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Experts share the benefits of a sunrise alarm clock — plus 9 options to wake you up peacefully

No need to drowsily hitting the snooze button in the morning.
TODAY Illustration / Casper / Phillips / Hatch

If you're someone that cherishes every moment of slumbering (even if it means hitting the snooze button a few too many times), then a sunrise alarm clock can rescue you from sleep deprivation. Whether your morning routine has changed or you struggle with waking up in the morning, a wake-up light can help with the daylight transition and improve your circadian rhythms.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends seven hours of sleep for adults and eight hours for teens per night. While most people wake up with a traditional alarm clock, this can be detrimental to some people's health in the long run.

Many researchers have also studied how certain occupational settings like airline pilots, nurses and other nighttime workers have a long-term effect on their sleeping patterns. According to an interview hosted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine with Dr. Flynn-Evans, our bodies experience a modest circadian misalignment when our wake-up time is different from the sunrise or sunset time. But one study found that a sunrise alarm clock improves sleep quality and reduces burnout, especially when the smartphone is put away.

Shop TODAY consulted sleep experts to weigh in on the benefits of sunrise alarm clocks and how these can help in decreasing your morning fatigue.

What are the benefits of using a sunrise alarm clock?

Wake-up lights simulate the natural sunrise brightness and encourage us to wake up slowly. However, not everyone needs one. When it comes to sleep patterns, people's biological clock can be placed in four chronotypes — the lion, the bear, the wolf and the dolphin. According to Australian sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo, sunrise alarm clocks are better for early chronotypes (a lion's energy level peaks before noon) because "they are easier to rise in the morning and their melatonin levels are lower than those with a late chronotype (wolves, which are more productive in the evening)."

"Ultimately, light is the primary factor to control the circadian rhythm, which means it exerts the greatest ability of any stimuli to influence our levels of alertness. This notion is reflected in the research too — sunrise stimulation can reduce morning fatigue," said Arezzolo.

"Unlike a regular alarm that may jolt your entire system out of sleep abruptly, a wake-up light is known for helping you rise gradually as the light fades on over a 15-30 minute window before your scheduled wake up time for a more natural wake up experience," added Serta Simmons Bedding's head of sleep experience, JD Velilla.

Aside from reducing lethargy, sunrise alarm clocks induce a soft awakening without altering our senses. According to Arezzolo, sound alarms can trigger high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that contributes to anxiety feeling.

What features should I consider before buying a sunrise alarm clock?

One of the best things about alarm clocks is that many come with different features. Arezzolo suggests choosing a sunrise alarm clock with a warmer hue (like yellow) that mimics the sunrise.

"If you sleep through the light and become irritated, perhaps it’s worthwhile to combine light and sound in the interim, or simply leave the wake-up lights style to a morning you don’t have to be awake so early," she added.

Velilla also recommends choosing a wake-up light that has a color temperature between 2700k and 4600k, which is ideal for most sleepers.

"Experimenting with waking up with light and sound for a few weeks may give you a better feel for what is right for you," he added.

Best sunrise alarm clocks, according to shoppers

hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock

With more than 8,000 reviews, this sunrise alarm clock can be used as a traditional bedside lamp or a gentle wake-up assistant. It features eight colorful light options and nature-inspired sounds for those heavy sleepers, along with three different brightness settings to accommodate your eyes.

One customer said they feel less "crabby" after using it. "This clock compared to my 20-year-old Sony is like a command center for NASA."

Jall Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock

This multifunctional alarm clock serves as a radio, sleep aid and alarm. With more than 20,000 reviews, it features seven natural sounds with 20 different brightness levels. You can adjust the lighting from soft to warm while incorporating gentle sounds of wind bells to your morning routine.

One Shop TODAY editor found this sunrise alarm clock effective in her low-light bedroom. "It's super handy for people like me who have little natural light in their rooms, but it's also a good option for anyone who wakes up before the sun rises or those who struggle with losing an hour of sleep at the start of Daylight Saving Time," she said.

Urban Outfitters Sunrise Alarm Clock

Wake up from the deepest dream with this calming alarm clock that features a gentle illuminating sunrise. It has multiple modes and colors that help you ease into your morning routine without heavy noise and vibrations. This is a great budget-friendly option if you want to give this new method a try and don't want to invest in a more advanced model.

Dekala Sunrise Alarm Clock

No more lethargic mornings thanks to the sunrise simulation of this alarm clock. You can set the light to gradually rise 20 to 60 minutes before the alarm clock rings. Not only will you feel less groggy during the morning, but also more relaxed. The clock also features seven natural alarm sounds such as the sound of the ocean and piano music.

According to one verified buyer, this clock "helps you relax with built-in natural sounds, it has radio capability and there’s this unreal colorful aura function that you can use to relax or brighten your mood."

Mahli Himalayan Salt Sunrise Alarm Clock

This chic, yoga-inspired alarm clock is about to rejuvenate your spirit. You can change the lighting of the Himalayan rock salts and has a natural wood-like top to match your minimalist decor. This alarm emits a cozy amber glow that will help light sleepers to wake up naturally.

iHome Zenergy Sunrise Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine

Start your morning with a guided meditation or the sound of chirping birds with this therapy machine. The alarm clock can help you wake up or fall asleep with soothing light colors, plus the simulated sunrise feature will create a tranquil environment in your bedroom.

Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light

No need to hide like a vampire when the sun rises thanks to this bestselling alarm clock from Philips. With nearly 8,000 verified five-star ratings, this clock is ideal for those that need time to wake up. You can change the sunset feature from 10 to 40 minutes and adjust the brightness to your preference. This machine also has an auto feature that dims the light according to your room's light setting.

Casper The Glow Light

Whether you need an hour or 10 minutes to snooze, this glowing light will cue your body to bed and softly lulls you to sleep. It'll also help you to gently wake up thanks to the 2700K color temperature.

One nurse that struggles with sleep said, this alarm "gives my body a nudge to start waking up without being jolted by an alarm. And because my room slowly gets brighter I don't have that inclination to just hit snooze and go back to sleep."

Hatch Restore Smart Sleep Assistant

This top-rated alarm clock has everything you need for your sleeping needs. The Hatch Restore combines sleep stories, relaxing sounds, smart light, sunrise light and more to power your morning routine. According to the brand's clinical trial, 50 percent of users who used this alarm clock felt less stressed by 59 percent. Now, that's a great way to trick your internal clock.

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