Waking up to an alarm clock has never felt so good.

By Lauren Phillips
December 05, 2018
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Alarm clocks may not be the bedside essentials they once were, but it’s amazing what the right alarm clock can do for your morning routine—especially if, like me, you struggle with hitting the snooze button a few too many times.

I’ve read plenty of studies and sleep experts that argue against hitting snooze. Rationally, I know an extra 10 minutes of sleep will not improve my day (in fact, it will probably leave me with a sleep hangover). But at 6 a.m., when that alarm goes off, there’s little that can stop me from fighting for a few more minutes of sleep. (And I know I’m not the only one.)

I’ve used my phone as my only alarm clock for years; even adding a smart home device to the mix failed to get me out of bed, on time, as regularly (or as gently) as I’d like. And then I tried the Philips Somneo sunrise alarm clock, and I realized I’ve been waking up wrong for years.

The Best Sunrise Alarm Clock for Gentler Mornings

Courtesy of Philips

To buy: Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-up Light Therapy Lamp, $200; amazon.com

All the alarm clocks I’ve used over the years woke me with blaring music, preferably so loud that I could not possibly ignore it. Waking up every morning felt like running a race, with a starting noise that would have my heart racing even before my eyes were open—not exactly the gentle, easy morning one might hope for.

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The Philips Somneo is the exact opposite experience: Instead of jolting awake every morning, I feel gradually awakened, until I feel almost surprised (in the best way) to be awake. Instead of feeling groggy and a little stressed out, even at 6 a.m., I feel refreshed and alert—even, dare I say it, happy.

The Philips Somneo simulates a sunrise, with a gradual increase in light that is intended to stimulate the body to wake up naturally, no blasts of noise necessary. At the scheduled wake-up time, the alarm clock will play the radio, birdsong, or another gentle noise, finishing the process of waking up in a way that feels completely organic. It has two alarm settings, so you can easily toggle between a weekday wake-up time and a weekend one. It’s even relatively easy to set up. It only took a few minutes of messing around with the touch-screen to set up my alarm preferences.

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Beyond its super-powered morning abilities, the Somneo can also lead a guided breathing session at night to help people fall asleep. It even has a sunset simulation, to help the mind and body relax for sleep gradually, too. Alarm noises and light levels can be adjusted, and the soft light can be turned on and off with a simple tap for middle-of-the-night wake-ups.

Especially in the winter, when the sun rises almost an hour after I do, waking up to the natural light of this alarm clock makes my mornings feel simple and unhurried—it’s like that alarm-free, no-worries vacation wake-up, every day. The Somneo does have a snooze button, but there’s a good chance it’ll go mostly unused; the gradual light-based wake-up feels that good.