We've tested and reviewed the best alarm clocks to wake you up well
Dragging yourself out of bed for work can be a challenge, especially when the mornings are cold and gloomy. That’s why many of us rely on a bedside alarm clock to get us going. However, not all alarm clocks are created equal, so it’s important to pick the right one. So while a monotone buzzer might work for some, others might prefer to be woken by their favourite radio station or a gentle recreation of the sunrise that brings you out of your slumber slowly and naturally.
And for those who want to stay ahead of the times in terms of their decor, there’s an extensive range of designs to match every kind of bedroom decor. Whatever your preference – natural light alarm clocks, digital alarm clocks and retro radio alarm clocks – there’s a look and sound for you.
We’ve tested and reviewed some of the top alarm clocks to help get you up and out of the house more easily in the mornings.
Make sure you have a look at more of our expert buying guides
Best alarm clocks
1. Newgate Dome Alarm Clock – best traditional alarm clock
This beautifully simple alarm clock from British brand Newgate sports a tactile silicone petrol blue finish and a distinctive design. Blending a number of styles, it features a mid-century inspired graphic dial. The unusual podium shape has a space age feel to it. This alarm clock is powered by 1 AA battery (not supplied) and setup is child’s play. Simply set the time using the dial on the back, pop in the battery and you’re in business.
The sole alarm is set using a second dial on the back followed by an on/off switch. Keeping things simple, there’s no snooze button and only one alarm. You can’t alter the volume or style of the beeping alarm but we found it was enough to wake us up without being too jarring. And while some might enjoy the white noise of a ticking clock, the Dome is completely silent so it won’t disturb you. While features are limited, this cool little alarm clock delivers everything it promises. It comes with a bargain price tag and will look amazing on your bedside table.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
2. Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750D – best sunrise alarm clock
Billed as ‘the original wake-up light’, Lumie’s latest effort sports a round design with an attractive frosted glass dome. It looks good even when it’s not lit up. The lamp mimics the rising sun, with the aim of regulating your sleep cycle for a better night’s rest. You can choose from a daily or weekly alarm and if you want sound to accompany the lamp, you’re in luck. There’s a DAB radio or a choice of 20 wakeup sounds including birds, crickets and traffic.
The unit also doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, with pretty decent audio. Then there’s a USB port for charging your mobile device if you can’t bear to be parted from it while you sleep. The alarm clock offers a sunset mode to help you unwind before bed, along with a low blue light setting especially for bedtime. The light level settings for sunrise and sunset can be tweaked, as can their duration. This enables you to find the perfect wake-up and bedtime process to suit you.
The unit relies on mains power, but it’ll keep time for 30 minutes if there’s a power cut. It will also save your settings so you won’t have to programme it all again. The wake-up lamp works a treat, and really does feel like a more relaxing way to start the day. However, the control buttons and on-screen menus are incredibly fiddly and not very intuitive, so it takes a while to master the settings. While it’s not as slick to use as we’d expect at this price, the Lumie is a sound investment if you want to up your chances of getting a good night’s sleep.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
3. Lexon Flip LR130 – best alarm clock for heavy sleepers
For something a little different, the tiny Lexon Flip is only slightly bigger than a pack of cards. This makes it a good choice if you need something portable. The fun design is available in a wide range of colours to match every bedroom. The time and alarm are both set with simple buttons on the back, with the alarm time displayed in the bottom right corner of the screen.
To turn the alarm on and off, you simply flip the unit over so ‘on’ or ‘off’ is showing on the top. It really couldn’t be simpler. Powered by 2 AAA batteries (not included), the clock features a five-minute snooze that’s activated by tapping the button on top of the unit. This will also turn on a nightlight for a few seconds if you want to check the time when it’s dark without disturbing your rest too much.
The alarm is rather loud and urgent, so there’s no slow, relaxing wake-up call here. There’s also no option for adjusting the volume or setting multiple alarms. With an unusual ‘flip’ method of turning the alarm on and off, this colourful clock is fun and functional, but not very flexible.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
4. Pure Siesta Rise S – best radio alarm clock
A welcome update to the classic radio alarm clock, this compact device sports a neat design. You can choose from five different colourways: gold, mint, navy, white and grey. You can choose to wake up to an alarm tone or your favourite radio station (the Rise S supports DAB, DAB+ and FM). It’s also possible to set three different alarms, which is handy if your partner gets up at a different time.
Alarms can be set as daily or for weekdays or weekends, or just once – and you can also adjust the volume. Both the tone and radio alarm start out at a low level, gradually increasing to the chosen maximum volume, for a gentle wake-up call. Simply press any of the buttons in the back row on top of the radio to stop the alarm. There’s also a really handy flexible snooze function, which can be set for anything between five and 59 minutes.
You even get a countdown clock on the display. And to avoid disturbing your sleep, the CrystalVue display packs auto-dimming. The Rise S relies on mains power and packs impressive sound. It includes a USB port for charging your mobile and a headphone socket, plus it works as a Bluetooth speaker. Overall, it’s a flexible, reliable timekeeper that’s easy to use, looks good and won’t put too much of a dent in your bank account.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
5. Roberts Ortus 3 – best DAB radio alarm clock
The Ortus 3 alarm clock has a retro feel to it, but the huge numbers on the display give it a contemporary twist. Available in a black or white finish, this mains-powered radio alarm clock features DAB, DAB+ and FM tuners. There is the option to set two alarms with the choice of a buzzer or the radio. Both start at a low volume, getting gradually louder.
The click dial on the top panel makes it really simple to whizz through setting the alarms. Meanwhile, manual switches on the side make it easy to toggle the alarms on and off without having to set them up from scratch. You can set the alarms for weekends, weekdays, daily or just once. The snooze timer can be set to five, 10 (the default), 15 or 20 minutes or even disabled completely and you can touch any button to snooze the alarm.
You can adjust the screen dimmer to avoid interrupting your sleep, choosing from, low, mid, high or off. The time lights up at the touch of any button before fading to the chosen setting. The sound quality from the speakers is good, though we found that it took a while to find the perfect spot for a radio signal.
Alarm clock extras include a USB socket on the back for topping up your smartphone’s juice while you sleep, plus a headphone socket. The fuss-free Ortus 3 delivers a reliable wake-up experience with a touch of flexibility. Best of all, it has possibly the largest and most easy-to-read digital clock face we’ve ever seen.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
6. Gingko Cube Click Clock – best-looking alarm clock
This unusual cube-shaped alarm clock comes in a range of colours, including a few different faux wood finishes. You can choose the hue of the LED lights too. The unit is powered by 3 AAA batteries (not included), but it also comes with a power cable. However, you’ll need to supply your own USB-compatible charger plug if you want to power it from the mains.
The clock face appears seemingly out of nowhere, displaying the time, date and temperature. The idea is that you click your fingers and the clock face lights up. A tap to the top of the unit or the bedside table should also produce the same result. However, we could only get the time to appear by clapping very loudly or tapping the top quite firmly, though the latter didn’t always work.
There are three alarms, which can be set to either weekday or weekend. There is also a five-minute snooze that can be activated a maximum of five times in a row. The controls on the back are not particularly intuitive and the instruction booklet can be a little confusing. Overall, this alarm clock looks chic, and the idea is great, but the execution needs a lot of work.
Ideal Home’s rating: 2 out of 5 stars
7. Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-up Light HF3651 – best alarm clock for wellbeing
Sporting a distinctively unique shape, this wake-up lamp from Philips looks great, if a bit unusual, in any bedroom. The default sunrise setting, which progresses from a soft red, to orange followed by a bright yellow, takes 30 minutes. However, you can tweak this to suit. You can choose to have no wake-up sound, or opt for FM radio (there’s no DAB here), or sound effects. These include the usual suspects such as birdsong, or plus slightly weird new age music, if that’s your thing.
The sound starts quietly and gradually increases, for a genuinely soothing way of starting your morning. You have the option of setting two separate alarms while tapping the top of the lamp activate snooze for nine minutes. The touch controls are really simple to use, even without the help of the instruction manual. You can alter the intensity of the display or turn it off altogether — just tap it to see the time.
The sunset mode, which can also be paired with relaxation sounds like rain or ocean waves, is a brilliant way to wind down at the end of the day. The device also offers light-guided breathing exercises. Tapping the top of the unit transforms it into a handy night light. The device also features a power backup which will preserve the time and your alarm for a maximum of eight hours.
This Philips alarm clock offers a USB port for charging your phone, and an aux input for plugging in your own music. However, you can’t use it as your wakeup sound. The seamless touch control and soothing lamp make this alarm clock worthy of your hard-earned cash.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
How to buy the best alarm clock for you
What’s the best way to wake up?
This comes down to personal preference, but we can probably agree that a gradual awakening is better than being startled by an obnoxiously loud buzzer. Your alarm needs to be loud enough to actually wake you up, without actually disturbing the neighbours.
Research shows that listening to music has a positive affect on the brain, so waking up to the radio is a good way to start the day. It’s also worth exploring wake-up lights which are designed to mimic the sunrise. This’ll wake you gradually and in a more natural way. Similarly, many alarm clocks now offer a buzzer or radio alarm that starts quietly and gradually increases in volume for a gentler effect.
Can’t I just use the alarm clock on my phone?
Of course you can! But the trouble is, having a smartphone next to your bed could well be disturbing your sleep. Numerous studies have linked the light from mobile devices to troubled sleep patterns. That’s because the light from the screen interrupts your ‘circadian rhythm’. This is your body’s internal clock that deals with your sleep cycles.
The glow emitted by smartphones has a much higher concentration of blue light than natural light does, which confuses your body’s circadian clock and makes it more difficult for you to drift off. The way to get around that is to limit your screen time before bed, and ideally banish your mobile from the bedroom. Alternatively, lots of smartphones now have night modes now, which enable you to lower the blue light on your screen from the evening until the morning, just in case you’re tempted to scroll through Instagram right before bedtime.
Do wake-up lights really help with SAD?
If you decide to opt for a wake-up lamp alarm clock, it could help to combat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). SAD is a form of depression that’s thought to be linked to the limited hours of sunlight during the autumn and winter months. Light therapy, which simulates exposure to natural sunlight, is known to help SAD sufferers, so a wake-up lamp could be the ideal solution for those dark and dreary winter mornings.
Most wake-up lamps also offer a sunset mode that be used to help you unwind naturally before you sleep and regulate your sleeping pattern.
What else should I know before buying an alarm clock?
- Check how many alarms the device has. If you and your partner need to get up and different times, or you start work at different times each day, this may well be a priority.
- Is there a snooze function? It’s also worth noting whether the snooze time can be altered and whether it can be switched off altogether. This is worth thinking about for those who would never get out of bed if they ever used a snooze function.
- Unlike the radio alarm clocks of yesteryear, most contemporary models now offer adjustable light levels on the display so that they don’t disturb your sleep. Some automatically adjust to the ambient light, while others can be adjusted manually.
- Plugging your alarm clock into the mains will save you cash on batteries, but you might want to check if your clock has a power back-up in case of a power cut. Alternatively, a battery-powered clock might be preferable if you want to play it safe or you’re simply short of plug points.
- If you can’t bear to be apart from your smartphone, it might be useful to know whether your alarm clock has a built-in charging port. This is handy so that you can replenish your phone’s juice while you sleep.