The Philips Somneo (also known as SmartSleep) is one of the best wake-up lights we've tested, with a gentle and realistic sunrise that wakes you gradually, phasing through red, then orange, yellow and white to avoid jarring you awake. Its unusual shape provides soft, even illumination that fills the room.
We were particularly impressed by the snooze function (something lacking from most wake-up lights), which lets you doze for an extra nine minutes before waking you again.
It's controlled using a touchscreen on the bottom of the lamp, which disappears when not in use. Here you can adjust the wake-up time and duration, choose a sound to wake up to, and pick the brightness level. You can add an alarm noise as well. There are several to choose from, or you can opt for FM radio instead. Unfortunately there's no DAB option with this model, but you can create two alarm profiles (one for weekdays and one for weekends, for example).
When it's time for bed, you can use the Somneo as a night light to read by. Once you're ready to settle down, it plays its sunrise effect in reverse, gently fading back to darkness. If you need to get up in the night, the lamp can provide just enough illumination to see by; handy if you don't want to disturb your partner.
Once you get the hang of working your way around the touchscreen and its various icons, it makes for a very pleasant sleep experience.
Price and availability
The Philips Someo Sleep and Wake-Up Light costs $199.95 / £189.99 (about AU$270) direct from Philips, or from third-party retailers. Note that there's also a version of this light with Bluetooth connectivity (the Connected Sleep and Wake-Up Light), which costs a little more.
This is the same price as the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB, which has a DAB radio and 20 sound effects to wake up to, but has a less stylish design.
The design of the Philips Somneo sets it apart from other wake-up lights, with a retro style that mimics the shape of the sun. White in color, its futuristic design adds an element of funky art to your bedroom and weighs around 3.2lb so is sturdy enough to stand up alone without having to prop it up against a wall.
There are no physical controls; instead, the light is operated entirely through a touchscreen that appears when you tap the bottom part of the lamp, and fades away when not in use.
If you're short of space, it's worth bearing in mind that the Somneo is quite large. It measures 225 x 220 x 120mm (W x D x H), so make certain you have enough room on your nightstand.
It has a power cable, plus a thin wire that serves as the FM radio antenna, which trails out the back.
The Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-Up light take a little while to get used to, thanks to its unusual touchscreen menu system, but once you've got to grips with it, you'll be able to control the light intensity, sound, and wake-up time with just a few taps/
The lamp offers both a wind-down light effect, which gently dims the illumination to help you drift off to sleep, as well as a reading light function that we found provided a very calming reading environment. The fact it doesn't require a phone app was a bonus, as we weren't tempted to start scrolling through social media.
The Somneo really comes into its own when you have a particularly early start, and it's dark outside. The lamp made for a far more gentle and enjoyable rising experience than using a phone alarm, and it gradually brightens the entire room to prepare you for the day.
The lamp has both audio effects (including the tweeting birds almost always present in wake-up lights) and an FM radio, which you can set as a backup in case you sleep through the simulated sunrise. The light alone worked fine for us, but deeper sleepers are likely to appreciate the extra reassurance.
On that note, you can set two alarms, should your partner perhaps want to wake up at a different time to you. In our case, this didn’t work as the room became so bright from the yellow sunrise it would be impossible for anyone to sleep through it, but you can also choose to just set one profile or the other (one for weekdays and another for weekends, for example).
We particularly appreciated the Somneo's Relax Breath feature: a light-guided wind-down breathing program that helps you relax at bedtime. We found it genuinely restful, particularly when we had a stressful day ahead and would normally struggle to switch off and settle down.
Buy it if
You want a top-end sleep light
This is a deluxe wake-up light that works effectively, looks good and can be used as a bedside lamp too
You have an eye for design
We just love the sleek doughnut shape of this device. Although designed for the bedroom, it won’t look out of place in a downstairs living area.
You have real difficulty waking up in the morning
Although many sleep lamps claim to work wonders when it comes to creating a sunrise effect to help wake you up gently, they don’t always deliver. The Somneo does. The slow colour changes over a 30-minute waking period really stimulate the waking up cycle.
Don't buy it if
You're on a budget
This is one of the most expensive wake-up lights on the market, and there are many cheaper options available if money is tight.
You want a good alarm stereo
The Somneo doesn't have a particularly impressive speaker, and isn't intended for playing music for long periods.