The 10 Best Gentle Alarm Clocks of 2023

The Philips Sleep and Wake-up Light HF3670 quietly wakes you up with dawn-like light and has a slew of smart features for tracking sleep.

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The 10 Best Gentle Alarm Clocks of 2022

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Chances are you'll need to use some form of an alarm clock at some point in your life, whether that's a traditional device, your smartphone, or even a smartwatch. But most of those devices play rather harsh tones to wake you up, which isn't ideal for your mental and physical wellbeing. You're better off choosing a gentle alarm clock.

"Gentle alarm clocks are designed to wake you up more gradually with light, soft sounds, or a combination of both," says Dr. Shelby Harris, director of sleep health at Sleepopolis. "They are made to minimize the negative effects of traditional alarm clocks and reduce sleep inertia and are also beneficial in improving your mood, sleep quality, as well as symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), insomnia, and jet lag."

We've researched many different types of gentle alarm clocks, from sunrise lamps to coffee makers, to find the best ones that will rouse you in a calming manner. Our top pick is the Philips Sleep and Wake-up Light HF3670. We love that it wakes you up in the most natural way possible — with light — but also comes with high-tech elements like monitoring your bedroom environment and light-guided breathing programs to help you fall asleep at night.

Here’s our breakdown of the best gentle alarm clocks:

Best Overall

Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-Up Light

Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-Up Light HF3670


Why We Love It: It's a sunrise alarm that also helps you sleep better at night.

What to Consider: All those extra features come at a higher cost.

"Light-based alarm clocks, also known as sunrise alarm clocks, are specifically designed to simulate the natural sunlight, which plays an important role in the regulation of our sleep-wake cycles and provides you with a more natural and gradual way to wake up," says Harris. That's why our top pick for the best gentle alarm clock is a sunrise alarm. This one pairs a gradually brightening light in natural sunrise colors with soothing sounds (you have a choice of eight) to wake you in the morning.

But this alarm clock goes far beyond the act of waking you up (and telling time). It also monitors the environment you're sleeping in, checking on things like temperature, noise, and humidity levels — with that information, you can tweak the settings in your room for the ideal sleeping conditions. Plus, it has a sunset setting that can help your body settle in for the night.

Sunrise alarm clocks like this one are great for helping you beat jet lag, too, as light is a natural way to reset your circadian clock.

Price at time of publish: $200

Dimensions: 11.1 x 12.05 x 5.43 inches | Power Source: Plug-in

Best Sunrise

Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light Therapy Lamp

Philips SmartSleep HF3520 Wake-up Light at Amazon


Why We Love It: The digital display automatically dims in a dark room.

What to Consider: The wake-up light doesn't get as bright as our overall best pick.

Philips has an entire collection of sunrise alarm clocks at different price points, and we think this is the one that's the best bang for your buck if you don't want to splurge on the top-end model. Like our top pick, this gentle alarm clock uses a natural-looking, red-toned light to rouse you in the morning, and you have the option of pairing that with one of five different soft alarm sounds, including chirping birds and piano music. While it doesn't have sensors to monitor the environment, the alarm clock does have a nice bonus feature: Its display automatically dims in dark rooms, so you won't be distracted by the bright lights of a digital clock at night. 

Price at time of publish: $180

Dimensions: 6 x 10 x 10 inches | Power Source: Plug-in

Best Budget Sunrise

hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock

hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock


Why We Love It: It pairs light and sound to wake you up gently in the morning.

What to Consider: There are no smart features, like sleep tracking or even a phone charger.

If you're seeking a sunrise alarm clock that won't break the bank, this is the model for you. It still has all the important details: a gradually brightening light (you can alter the brightness), nature-inspired alarm sounds (like birdsong or ocean waves), and a digital clock, of course. And it has a few bonus details, like the option to choose from eight different light colors, which makes this a fun option for a kid's room. There's also an FM radio if you'd prefer to wake up to the sound of a voice. And like a traditional alarm clock, there's a snooze feature for those mornings when you need a bit more shut-eye.

Price at time of publish: $22

Dimensions: 6.8 x 7.2 inches | Power Source: USB

Best Coffee Maker

Barisieur Coffee Brewing Alarm Clock

Barisieur Coffee Alarm Clock Coffee Maker


Why We Love It: There's a milk fridge for those who don't like black coffee.

What to Consider: It looks like a science lab on your nightstand.

Yes, this gentle alarm clock is a bit gimmicky. But if you really want to wake up to a freshly brewed cup of coffee that you can enjoy from bed without having to head to the kitchen first, well, it does the job! You can set this mad-science contraption to brew your coffee five minutes before the built-in alarm clock goes off — our preference for the gentle wake, since you'll hear the quiet sounds of brewing and smell the coffee — or five, 10, or 15 minutes after it goes off. We also love that this coffee-brewing alarm clock has a built-in fridge for milk. On the flip side, it's not fun to have to clean your alarm clock every day.

Price at time of publish: $429

Dimensions: 17.6 x 13.1 x 10.6 inches | Power Source: Battery-operated

Best Scented

HoMedics SoundSpa Slumber Scents Alarm Clock

HoMedics SoundSpa Slumber Scents Alarm Clock


Why We Love It: This is an all-in-one device that doesn't take up much space on your nightstand.

What to Consider: It's not actually the scent that wakes you up but gentle sounds.

If coffee isn't your preferred morning scent, this essential oil diffuser, white noise machine, and alarm clock combo allows you to pick your favorite scent. Just note that it doesn't actually emit scents at certain times of day to wake you up — you'll have to rely on the six white-noise sounds and the glowing lights for that. The sounds range from campfire crackling to a babbling brook, or you can sync your phone to the device via Bluetooth to play your own audio selection, whether a song or a podcast. As for the LED light, which can be set to six different colors, it's primarily used as a nightlight, but you can set it so that it turns on in the morning with your alarm.

Price at time of publish: $90

Dimensions: 6 x 5 x 10 inches | Power Source: Plug-in

Best Smart

Lenovo Smart Clock 2

Lenovo Smart Clock 2

Best Buy

Why We Love It: It's a full-fledged command center compatible with Google Assistant.

What to Consider: It's compatible only with Google Assistant, which isn't great if your smart home is operating on another system.

Though its screen is smaller than your iPhone's screen, this smart alarm clock is a full-service digital hub, displaying information like the weather, photo slideshows, or even traffic reports. Best of all, it syncs with Google Assistant to control the smart devices in your house — no more getting out of bed to see if the front door is locked! You can also pair it with a wireless charging dock, or you can use the USB-A port to charge your devices at night. The one thing to note is that the default alarm sound is a pretty standard tone, so if you'd like to switch to something gentler, you'll have to use Google's voice commands to play another noise.

Price at time of publish: $45

Dimensions: 4.21 x 8.65 inches | Power Source: Plug-in

Best Vibrating

Bellman & Symfon Vibio Bed Shaker

Bellman & Symfon Vibio Bed Shaker


Why We Love It: This is ideal for hard-of-hearing folks and heavy sleepers.

What to Consider: You have to charge the device regularly.

This alarm clock isn't actually a clock, but it still can wake you up in the morning; it's a silent alarm that rouses you with vibration instead of noise. In order to set it up, you pair it with a free app, which can also sync the device with your phone to alert you of incoming texts or calls with vibration and LED lights (they aren't bright like sunrise alarm clocks, just little indication lights). Don't worry — if you have do not disturb on, the device will comply. Do note that you'll have to charge the device for 1.5 hours via USB to power it up, but it'll last up to 10 days under your pillow on a single charge.

Price at time of publish: $70

Dimensions: 3.7 x 3.7 x 1.1 inches | Power Source: USB charged, battery operated

Best Sleep Sounds

Loftie Smart Alarm Clock

Loftie Smart Alarm Clock


Why We Love It: It's very design-forward.

What to Consider: It needs Wi-Fi to function, and it requires a very specific type of Wi-Fi connection.

Loftie has the best sound library of all the alarm clocks out there, and it's continually being updated so you can discover new sounds all the time. This is great not only for morning alarms (Loftie uses a two-phase system that combines very gentle sounds with slightly louder ones to wake you up), but also for falling asleep at night. One thing we really love: You can listen to some of the sounds online before purchasing the clock. But one thing we don't love is that this clock must be connected to a 2.4 gHz connection in order to tap into those sounds, which isn't great if you're traveling. Keep it at home on your nightstand, where you know the Wi-Fi will work. A nightlight is the only other feature besides the clock and the sounds.

Price at time of publish: $149

Dimensions: 2.75 x 6 x 2.75 inches | Power Source: Battery-operated

Best Light

Casper Glow Light

Casper Glow Light

Bed Bath & Beyond

Why We Love It: There's nothing complicated about this light at all.

What to Consider: There's no clock.

Some gentle alarm clocks go a little too hard on the frills, but that's not the case with this one. In fact, there are essentially zero frills — not even a clock. In essence, this is a timed light that can be used both as a nightlight and a sunrise alarm. In manual mode, you can wiggle the light to adjust brightness, using it as a nightlight for a midnight bathroom run. Then you can twist it if you need a brighter light, such as for reading in bed. And finally, there's the alarm portion. You'll need to connect the device to an app, but once you do, you can set dimming and brightening timers to help you fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.

Price at time of publish: $117

Dimensions: 5.25 x 3.75 inches | Power Source: Plug-in

Best for Kids

Hatch Rest 2nd Gen

Hatch Rest 2nd Gen


Why We Love It: Though it's designed for kids, the clock doesn't look "kiddie" at all.

What to Consider: You can't play your own music or sounds, just the pre-programmed ones.

This gentle alarm clock is designed with kids in mind, though you wouldn't be able to tell from its elegant, minimalist form. But it is enabled to be a two-way audio monitor as well as a sound machine and a nightlight. As for the alarm, which can be used for both mornings and naptime awakenings, you can select a light color from 10 options and pick between 11 soothing sounds that include rain and lullabies. To set the alarm clock, you can use your voice via Amazon Alexa or do so with the phone app. There is a clock on the device, but you can adjust its brightness or turn it off entirely to ensure total darkness for your little one.

Price at time of publish: $70

Dimensions: 4.2 x 4.2 x 6.61 inches | Power Source: Plug-in

Tips for Buying a Gentle Alarm Clock

Be prepared to test it out on low-stakes mornings 

If you're transitioning from a loud alarm clock to a gentle one, do it when you have nothing going on the following morning, just in case the gentle one isn't enough to wake you up. (That is, do not tempt fate if you have an early morning flight the next day!) It might take a few mornings — or even more than a week — to get the settings on your new alarm clock just right. "Some gentle alarm clocks allow you to adjust the intensity of the light and wake sounds, so it’s important you make sure that you can set the brightness levels to be bright enough to wake you up in the morning," says Harris.

Consider portability for travel

If you plan on taking your gentle alarm clock on the road — most hotels only have loud alarm clocks, so make sure you take its size and portability into consideration. Ideally you'll want a small alarm clock that's battery-powered in case there's no outlet near your nightstand.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is it better to use a gentle alarm clock?

    Yes, it's better to wake up in a gentle manner rather than a jarring one. "The problem with traditional loud alarm clocks is that they trigger your stress response, increase adrenaline levels, and essentially shock you into waking up. This forced awakening can increase sleep inertia and lead to high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate," says Harris. 

  • How did people wake up before alarm clocks?

    Before alarm clocks were invented, people typically relied on the sun to wake them up — followed by the sounds of animals like roosters, which were roused by the sun, too. During the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th century, humans were used as alarm clocks. People called knocker-ups would walk around town and use a stick to tap on the window of their clients, waking them up. Some knocker-ups would throw pebbles at windows or even use a peashooter. This practice continued into the mid-20th century, when alarm clocks became largely affordable to the masses.

  • How do I stop sleeping through my alarms?

    "There are ways to train yourself to wake up to an alarm clock if you have an especially tough time getting up," says certified sleep science coach Becca Fair, the sleep accessories editor at "Moving your alarm clock away from your bed is a type of ‘forcing’ you [to] get out of bed. Following a morning routine is always a good habit as your body will adjust to the new routine and make it easier to wake up each morning."

    But more importantly, you should be looking at why you're sleeping through your alarm — and the answer is likely that you're not getting enough sleep. "Research shows the more sleep deprived you are, the more difficult it is to be roused from sleep and the worse it feels," says Jeff Kahn, co-founder and CEO of Rise Science. "Keeping your sleep debt [low], or the amount of sleep you’re missing out on relative to your unique sleep need, is an excellent way to 'train' yourself to better wake up to an alarm."

    If you find that you're getting a quality sleep for a sufficient amount of time each night but you still can't wake up for an alarm, you might need to see a sleep doctor to be assessed for a potential sleep disorder.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Stefanie Waldek is a freelance travel writer with nearly a decade of experience. For this article, she evaluated alarm clocks based on their features and read dozens of customer reviews.

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