The perfect start to the day – even without sun
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We have different daylight alarm clocks in total 20 hours tested and have woken us six times by six different alarm clocks before sunrise. With this in mind, we chose the Philips HF 3520 as our top recommendation. The realistic simulation of dawn and dusk is particularly soothing and the narrow crescent shape can be seen in every bedroom. The test was carried out by Wirecutter.com carried out in the USA, which is why only products available in Germany can be missing. You are reading the German translation.
Our favorite among the daylight alarm clocks: Philips Wake-Up Light HF 3520
Most daylight alarm clocks wake you with white light, which can be irritating in the early morning. The Philips Wake-Up Light HF 3520 , on the other hand, begins with a soothing reddish light that gradually develops into a bright white glow. The course looks more natural and can help you feel less sluggish when you wake up. Only the Somneo model from Philips offers the same red-toned simulation of sunrise and sunset, but costs almost double. The HF 3520 are missing some useful functions and features that can be found in the more expensive Somneo such as a port for charging your smartphone. It offers you a solid selection of five different alarm tones, a backup alarm, an emergency power supply and a high-quality radio.
Our upgrade recommendation for a daylight alarm clock: Philips Somneo HF 3650
If you make your purchase decisions more according to the “more is more” principle, the Philips Somneo HF 3650 probably the right thing for you. It simulates the sunrises and sunsets in the same reddish light and also offers you additional functions that you can use on the HF 3520 have to do without – including a charging option for your smartphone and a larger selection of different alarm tones. The light can also be set pulsating. In combination with soothing noises, this can support your breathing and relaxation. The Somneo is also slightly larger, lighter and more plastic than our top favorite. This doesn’t necessarily make you wake up fitter, but it could be worth an investment if you want even more of your product than the HF 3520 brings.
Our budget recommendation for daylight alarm clocks
If you don’t address any of our top favorites, we recommend the hOmelabs Sunrise alarm clock. Basically, it is equipped with everything you can find in a high-end product, but it is not nearly as luxurious. The simple white glow is less relaxing than the simulated dawn and dusk of the Philips models. The alarm tone also sounds tinny. Nevertheless, a gradual dimming of the light during the evening, several soothing alarm tones, as well as a radio can be set – all functions that you have to do without with the cheapest device in the Philips series (despite the double price). Buying the hOmelabs Sunrise alarm clock can be compared to cheap ice skates that you buy to try out the sport before you invest more money in a better model.
Why you can trust our test
As a health journalist, I have been following developments in light therapy over the past decade and a half. For this test report, I also asked two sleep researchers and three light scientists about the influence of sunrise simulators on the daily waking state. I also included several colleagues and even my husband, all of whom have been using such an alarm clock for more than a year.
Who is the test interesting for?
If you find it difficult to get up in the morning in general or especially in autumn and winter, a daylight alarm clock can be an effective remedy for your permanent sleepiness. A person’s biological clock makes us wake up at sunrise. Daylight alarm clocks simulate this effect by starting with a dim light and over the course of about 30 minutes build up the luminosity of a bright spring day. You may be wondering how that should work when your eyes are closed while you sleep. The fact is that your eyes can not only see, but also affect the biological clock (just as your ears are not only responsible for hearing but also for balance). The retina contains sensitive cells that perceive the changes in light at dawn and dusk, and light in general even when the eyes are closed. As soon as these receptors register the light of dawn, this can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin in sufficient intensity and thus prevent tiredness after getting up.
Alarm clock with timer light
You don’t necessarily need a special alarm clock to work with light to start the day – basically every lamp with a timer serves the same purpose. The use of artificial light can also prove helpful in jet lag. However, the gradually increasing brightness of the daylight alarm clock should be particularly suitable for people who are not exactly morning people, for whom the typical alarm clock ringing is a thorn in the side or who find it difficult to get out of bed, especially on dark autumn and winter days. As part of a study, subjects were asked to solve math problems and ride a bike immediately after getting up. The results indicated that twilight simulation had a positive effect on reducing fatigue and starting the day in general. Preliminary studies even believe that it can lower the risk of heart attacks.
Daylight alarm clocks can be used for people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or a clinically diagnosed delayed sleep phase syndrome ( DSPS, a clinical picture detailed in an article in the New York Times, Wirecutter’s parent company). However, do not rely solely on such an alarm clock as a treatment method. The common treatment for SAD is bright light therapy. In this case, a medical device is used that 20 to 50 Shines brighter than conventional daylight alarm clocks. A severe case of DSPS requires treatment prescribed by a doctor.
So we tested
It is difficult to test alarm clocks without first holding them in your hand. We therefore formulated the following criteria, the most important in this case being listed first:
The alarm clock can hardly be placed inconspicuously on your bedside table. Therefore, it makes sense to choose a model that can assert itself visually in your bedroom. Accordingly, we started looking for a reliable alarm clock that most people would like to put on their dessert for aesthetic reasons.
When trying to press the snooze button while half asleep, the alarm clock should not fall off the bedside table.
Inconspicuous time display:
It is best to sleep in a completely dark room. Therefore, it does not make much sense if the time of the alarm clock flashes directly in your face. It was important to us that the brightness of the display can be regulated.
Pleasant alarm tones:
The light is on the central wake-up method for these alarm clocks. Nevertheless, the devices have an additional audio alarm, which is activated as soon as the light reaches the brightest level. Maybe one day after you wake up to the sound of waves on the beach, another time you might prefer to start the day straight from a forest with the chirping of birds. Therefore, we preferred models that offered us a variety of different sounds to choose from.
For in the event that you set your alarm clock to 5 o’clock in the morning, only to regret it when the alarm clock rings, it makes sense to program a backup alarm that wakes you up at a more humane time.
emergency power function:
There is nothing more annoying than missing an important appointment such as an interview, a flight or a wedding, just because the battery of your alarm clock temporarily gives up the ghost. Therefore, we preferred alarm clocks where such an accident cannot happen.
We chose four models from the Philips brand, as well as the Lumie Bodyclock Active 250 and the hOmelabs Sunrise alarm clock. Each device got the space on my bedside table for at least one day. I judged how I felt when I woke up in the morning. I also compared the clocks side by side in the late evening twilight to assess the different color nuances.
Detailed test report: Philips Wake-Up Light HF 3520
The daylight alarm HF 3520 from Philips offers the best value for money. We couldn’t find another alarm clock at a less expensive price that simulated such a realistic, red colored twilight. It looks more natural and reduces your indolence better than bright white light. In addition, the model has some thoughtful extras such as five alarm tones, a pretty good radio and a backup alarm. Visually, it makes a leaner and more robust impression than other, similarly inexpensive models.
Philips’ only alarm clock
The HF 3520 and the premium device from Philips, the Somneo, are the only alarm clocks from Philips whose light comprises a red light component. Scientific evidence shows that there is much more to this function than just a technical gimmick: A PLoS study on mice from the year 2015 shows: The more natural the light, the more effective it affects the internal clock. Of course, people are not mice, but the principle can also be applied to us, Dan Oren, lecturer in psychology at Yale University, explained in an interview.
With my light sleep I woke up relatively quickly in our test after the light show started. I found the warm red tone a little more pleasant than the simple orange of the Philips HF 3510, the model below Line. This can be compared to a good Italian ice cream compared to frozen yogurt – both are delicious, but the latter simply lacks that certain something. I found this shade of red a little more pleasant when simulating the sunset (in the model one step below, it also looked more orange than red). I also liked the way he lighted up my room while I was getting ready for bed. Sometimes the effect alone made me shut down my laptop. Like the beneficial effect of simulated twilight, the supposedly positive effect of an artificial sunset must be researched even more thoroughly. Nevertheless, according to Oren, it seems plausible that such a simulation can improve your sleep rhythm. Every light at night suppresses melatonin. Darker, long-wave lights like the red of the HF 3520 are less of a concern in this case.
Make people fall asleep early
You should program your daylight alarm so that your body activates it Has the opportunity to actually feel sleepy – as is intended in nature. In this context, you automatically go to bed earlier, sleep more and ultimately get up more easily as soon as artificial twilight sets in.
We also found the alarm clock to be positive. As with the Somneo model, your brightness automatically reduced with the onset of twilight. With cheaper models, the brightness had to be adjusted manually. Our favorite is less bright than the Somneo – the maximum light intensity is 300 instead of 320 Lux (measure of illuminance). However, this is not really worth mentioning. “We have no indication that this has an effect on the effect,” explained Kathryn Roecklein, lecturer in psychology at Pittsburgh University in an interview.
On days, on For those who are really exhausted and need the sound of a “normal” alarm clock to really get out of bed, there are five different alarm tones to choose from: yoga-like music with chirping birds, chirping birds alone, calling a cuckoo, gentle Piano music and the sound of ocean waves along with the sound of seagulls. The slightly cheaper Philips model only offers three different alarm options (piano music, simple chirping birds and the call of a cuckoo), which we cannot really recommend.
HF 3520 also has a radio
The HF 3520 also has a radio, that sounds as good as that of our upgrade and can also be used as an audio alarm clock. If these alarm sounds don’t get you up, setting a backup alarm can be useful. The alarm clock can be activated at any point with a simple touch – quite pleasant. The shiny, round design is just as appealing as that of the more expensive Philips model and definitely represents a better alternative to the cheaper plastic products. In addition, its shape, a cone that is set up, together with a good weight, prevents it from tipping over in front.
The Philips HF 3520 is currently for around 90 Euro available and thus for about 50 Euro less than the expensive Philips Somneo. In this case, it is worth visiting the large mail order companies like Amazon. Chances are that you will find the model there for up to 90 Find Euro cheaper. Given that both Philips products basically have the same light simulation, that’s actually too much. In comparison to the premium model, the HF is missing 3520 certain alarm tones and noises, a midnight light, a connection for charging the smartphone and for the aux cable, as well as the possibility to play music from the smartphone via the loudspeaker of the alarm clock – however, we did not find these aspects so important that we between 45 or even 90 Euros would spend more.
Minor flaws, but no deal breakers
The robust, orange-like shape turned out to be problematic when dusting, because the alarm clock was difficult to move. The extended back makes the alarm clock more stable, but prevents it from being flush against the wall. In this case, we found the donut-like shape and the flat back of the Philips Somneo better.
As with the other test models from Philips, the LED lamp cannot be used change. If it no longer works, the entire watch must be replaced (unless the lamp gives up before the guarantee expires). However, the Philips development team informed us that the watches “have a lifespan of seven years with regular use.” A Wirecutter colleague has been using her alarm clock for six years now and it still works .
Detailed test report: Philips Somneo HF 3650
Regarding our waking up experience, we noticed no difference between the Philips Somneo and that HF 3520. However, the more expensive model offers some well-thought-out additional functions that could be interesting if money doesn’t matter – including a smartphone charging station. In addition, it is slightly larger and its shape is adapted to its function. Just like our favorite, the Somneo shines in a reddish light. The alarm clock is almost 2.5 cm larger in diameter, so that it can emit a little more light. The real advantages of Somneo are particularly evident in the evenings. As with our favorites, you can also set the Somneo so that its brightness gradually decreases until it is completely dark. But instead of just mimicking a quiet, passive sunset, the Somneo can accompany it with soothing sounds, such as the sound of ocean waves, or emit a pulsating light that supports your breathing and relaxation. I didn’t have the patience to test this function. If you like something like this, the more expensive model definitely makes sense.
Somneo alarm clock
In addition, the Somneo has several other functions that help the HF 3520 absence. For example, you can connect your smartphone via an aux port to use your Somneo as a loudspeaker or you can use the USB port to charge your smartphone (this is particularly useful if you use a sleep tracking app, for example but only a limited number of sockets are available around your bed). You can also choose between two other alarm tones: wind chimes and “Yoga harmony (my personal favorite). The latter reflects exactly the mood that you would imagine in a yoga class. An emergency power function is also included, as with our top favorite.
We also found the optical design to be very positive. The round opening in the middle makes it easy to move (e.g. when dusting) and thanks to the flat back it can be placed straight on the wall. The donut shape is generally striking and may take some getting used to, but that’s probably why it goes through as a decoration.
Detailed test report: hOmelabs Sunrise alarm clock
If you are curious about the effects of a daylight alarm clock but do not want to invest as much money directly, the hOmelabs Sunrise alarm clock one good choice. The white light that it spreads as dawn and dusk is less soothing than the red light of the Philips models. Its extremely low weight, the many plastics and tinny sound make it appear of little quality. Nevertheless, a number of additional functions that you would normally only find in high-end alarm clocks make it the best model in the lower price category.
Instead of imitating natural dawn and dusk Simulating all rules of art with color nuances takes its white light 30 minutes just gradually. You can combine the light with one of a total of seven alarm tones or the radio (almost as many as in the case of the Somneo, but at a fraction of the cost). The radio or the playback of the alarm tone “Pachelbel´s Canon” sound rather modest in comparison to our more expensive products – but we would have more of a device for just under 18 Euro ( Note from translator: currently not available in Germany for this price. ) also not expected. You can’t go wrong with twittering birds or the sound of ocean waves. In contrast to the Philips alarm clocks, not only the sound turns off when the snooze button is pressed, but also the light. In at least one online customer review, this was perceived as negative. My husband liked that.
In the evenings you can first use the alarm clock as a reading lamp and program it so that its brightness decreases until you go to bed. For fun, you can also let the hOmelabs shine in one of six bright neon colors, but when you wake up there is only white light.
Best-selling clock radio
Thanks to the enclosed battery, the hOmelabs fulfills its duty as an alarm clock even in the event of a power failure. In the Philips range, only the two more expensive models Somneo and HF 3520. The products of the Philips middle class between 45 and 90) Euro do not offer any emergency power options. A rubberized pad prevents the hOmelabs from slipping off the bedside table despite its low weight. If you register the device, the warranty period includes 30 months – that’s 6 months more than our other test objects.
Compared to many others inexpensive daylight alarm clocks on Amazon stung the hOmelabs with more than 1015 Customer reviews clearly. It is the best-selling clock radio and number three in daylight alarm clocks. The hOmelabs customer service quickly answered a question about battery performance in a short telephone conversation. Although we had to wait a few weeks until we received more information about the hOmelabs device (it turned out that a holding company is behind hOmelabs), we did not find this problematic: the alarm clock does not cost too much and if it does Should you not be satisfied with your purchase on Amazon, you can buy it within 30 days back.
Are daylight alarm apps or smart lightbulbs worthwhile?
There are a few twilight apps on iTunes and Google Play – but most can only show a few or mixed customer reviews. An app that appeared promising was the Light Alarm for iOS (around 6 euros for the premium version). It was one of the few apps that was rated on average with more than 4 stars, even if it was only 27 reviews were. I tested the free version (which bombarded me with dozens of annoying advertising messages) on my iPhone and iPad (the latest generation in each case) – no comparison to the daylight alarm clock. The experience did not resemble a sunrise. John Hanifin, assistant professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, recommended in an interview a light that should fill the entire bedroom. It is difficult to implement with smartphones, although in my test they actually served their purpose and got me awake.
If you against it with your smart home equipment and the lighting A smart light bulb (e.g. from Philips Hue, C from GE Slepp or LIFX) may also be suitable for experimentation, says Grant Clauser, Senior Editor at Wirecutter, who has been closely following the smart home trend for a long time. This method works best if you wake up safely without the help of an alarm tone (of course you can use a normal alarm clock or your smartphone as a precaution). LFIX lamps even imitate the color nuances of the rising and setting sun. You can simply insert a smart light bulb into a normal lamp and use an app or an intelligent speaker system such as Amazon Echo or Google Home control. The price range for intelligent, color-changing light bulbs includes 30 to 45 Euro; pure white light bulbs are usually below 18 Euro.
Other daylight alarm clocks in the test
The Lumie BodyClock Active 250:
If Lumie sold its models on a large scale in the USA, the company would probably compete with Philips. We like how seriously Lumies does his science and uses his knowledge to further develop his twilight simulation. Instead of an LED lamp, the Bodyclock Active 250 an included light bulb for use, which according to the manufacturer has a maximum light 500 Lux at a distance of around 30 meters. In our test, the light felt hot – a problem I didn’t notice in any of the Philips models. On the other hand, the emergency power supply, the simulated sunset in combination with relaxing noises, the selection of five different alarm tones and the radio function appeared positive. Given the relatively high price of currently round 115 Euro and the fact that it is only available to a limited extent, at least in the USA, we finally decided on the Philips HF 3520 as the best choice.
Philips daylight alarm HF 3510:
This model is one level below our favorite from the Philips range. It emits a soft wake-up light, has the same shape as the HF 3520, but has a matt and less aesthetic surface . There is also no backup alarm and there are only three different wake-up sounds to choose from (piano music, cuckoo calls or simple chirping). We also lack the soothing red that mimics twilight. With just under 113 Euro he is just in the middle of the field.
Philips daylight alarm clock HF 3500:
The model for those interested looks significantly more elegant than other models under 90 Euro and offers a major advantage: Philips, as a well-known manufacturer, is behind the product. Its light is also warm and the buttons respond to touch. However, the price of short 67 Euro is still significantly higher than that of our budget recommendation, but offers fewer functions. Instead of the comparatively large selection of alarm tones of the hOmelab Sunrise, you only have a “gentle” beep that is about as gentle as a fire alarm. A radio is also missing. In addition, he gave an unstable impression.
You can look forward to that
We are currently testing the new elegant Glow bedside lamp from Casper. The user interface, which is restricted to a minimum, works together with an optional app or via the simplest gesture control. When you turn the lamp, the light turns on or off, a rotational movement increases or decreases the light intensity and shaking causes a weak light. Thanks to the wireless docking station, you can take the lamp with you for a night trip to the kitchen and you don’t have to pull a plug. The simple design of the Glow is promising. We are excited to see how it performs in our test.
Philips will have an app-compatible version of the Somneo (HF 3675) launch. Apart from additional alarm tones (you would certainly give anything to wake up with a few cows in the Alps), it will also offer you other color options to choose from – from “Nordic white” to “Caribbean red”. You can also register up to 20 set different alarm clocks. Like many smart smart home devices, it monitors room temperature, humidity, light and noise levels in your bedroom – all just for the perfect sleep.
- Dr. Mark Aloia, specializes in behavior change in collaboration with Philips Respironics and psychologist in the sleep department of the National Jewish Health in Denver , telephone interview, 11. September 2018
- Dr. John Hanifin, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia , telephone interview, 21. September 2018
- Robert Leeming, “ How to design human centric lighting – by scientist who discovered it “, Lux, 11. January 2017
- Ray Molony, John Bullock, “ Meet the godfather of circadian lighting “, Lux, 21. October 2016
- Dan Oren, MD, Lecturer in psychology at Yale University and board member at the Center for Environmental Therapeutics, telephone and email interview , 24. September 2018
- Regina Patrick, “ Shedding Light on Dawn Simulation “, Sleep Review: The Journal for Sleep Specialists, 16. May 2016
- Dr. Kathryn Roecklein, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh , telephone interview, 20. September 2018
- Dr. Orie Shafer, Professor of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor , telephone interview, 17. September 2018The contribution “The best daylight alarm clock in the test” is the German translation of the article “ The Best Sunrise Alarm Clock ” from wirecutter.com . The test was conducted in the United States and was first published in English on the Wirecutter website. The translation is based on the version from 01. 02. 2019. The CHIP test center was not involved in the investigation.