By Amy Schlinger
Your morning doesn’t need to begin with a jolting alarm, sending you into a panic as soon as you open your eyes—in fact, it shouldn’t! A repetitive, siren-like blast can make you dread the morning and send your cortisol levels spiking before you even exit your bed.
There’s a simple fix that can help: a new alarm clock.
“Not all alarm clocks are created equally,” says Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified sleep specialist, American Academy of Sleep Medicine fellow, and author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctors 4-week program to Better Sleep and Better Health. Some wake you up with light, others use soothing sounds, and others use vibration. Generally speaking, these will be less jarring and more calming.
These are the features that Dr. Breus highly recommends for most people:
- A progressive alarm feature that slowly gets louder (with soothing sounds).
- A progressive light feature that slowly makes the room brighter and mimics the sunrise for a wake-up call the way nature intended.
- A feature that blocks off a range of time during which the alarm can wake you up. This way, the device wakes you up in light sleep versus deep sleep, so you feel less groggy.
Ready to find a clock that’s right for you? Here are some of the best alarm clocks for a more zen morning.
Best Light Alarm: Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-Up Light
This alarm clock replicates the light at the start and end of each day, so you can wind down with a sunset and wake up with a sunrise. Choose from five different sounds—including birds chirping, ocean waves, or classical music—to play in sync with your sunrise.
Best for Those Who Wake Up in the Middle of the Night: PICTEK Projection Alarm Clock
Ever wake up in the middle of the night and wonder what time it is, but don’t feel like rolling over or lifting your head to look at your alarm clock? Well, now you can look right up at the ceiling! This alarm clock projects the time above you, making it easy to know exactly how many minutes you have left before it goes off. (What’s more calming than that?) Adjust the brightness between six different settings, depending on your eye sensitivity or preference.
Best Silent Alarm: Fitbit Surge and Fitbit Charge 2
While these technically fall into the category of fitness/activity tracker, these smart devices double as a silent alarm. Simply designate a range of time (the end time being when you absolutely *need* to be up), and vibrations will wake you up gently (no grogginess here!). You can use the app to look at your sleep stats, and the silent feature is perfect if you have a partner who’s a light/late sleeper.
Best Smart Alarm: Amazon Echo Show 5
If you like having a connected home, this alarm is for you. This device not only acts as an alarm clock, but you can also use it to set reminders, check the weather, get a daily news update, and more. It’s voice-activated, so just tell it what you want it to do. (“Alexa, set an alarm for 7:00 a.m.”) It has an ambient sunrise lighting feature, and you can personalize the clock face with a photo or fun design.