5 Smart Ways To Help You Wake Up Easier

Sleep is, for many people, a dream if you have children or a hectic schedule. The only downside is having to actually get up. The mental fog, the dark room, the uncomfortable temperatures beyond that cozy bed, and the day ahead make you want to pull up the covers rather than rise and shine.

Though most rely on the power of an alarm clock (or the clock on a smartphone) to get out of bed, you can use a slew of smart gear to not only make waking up easier, but to ensure you have a better sleep.

Smart speakers

Smart speakers respond to voice commands to play news, music, podcasts, and more, and they control smart-home devices—but they also make great alarm clocks. The Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) is a compact and affordable smart speaker with a built-in clock display, and it also provides several ways to wake up. (One Echo Dot model also comes without the clock.)

Users can set daily or weekly alarms by clicking the More tab in the Alexa app, then Alarms & Timers. You can choose from many free alarm sounds as well as ones available for a fee. You can also create a Wake-up Routine where the alarm triggers connected devices, such as smart bulbs, thermostats, smart plugs, and window shades. Rose Maura Lorre, a senior staff writer, uses an Echo Dot to wake up her 10-year-old daughter for school, and she allows her daughter to choose her own song to wake up to (Katy Perry’s “Roar” seems to be the current favorite). “The level of self-reliance was very cool for her,” Rose says. To add music to your alarm, click the More tab in the Alexa app, Settings, Music & Podcasts, then add a music service to your Alexa device. From there, you can just ask your Echo device, “Alexa, wake me up at 7:00 a.m. to Katy Perry’s ‘Roar.’”

If you prefer a smart display, the Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen) has motion and sound sensors that can track your sleep. The 7-inch screen shows a sleep summary and provides suggestions on how to get a better night’s sleep. It can also play music and videos, show calendars, and provide smart-home control.

A smart wake-up light

Wake-up lights gradually increase the brightness directly by your bedside, gently waking and easing you into the day. It’s a lot more pleasant than the traditional jolt of an alarm clock. Smart wake-up lights add a variety of light options, sounds, and songs, and they can even be set up to trigger other smart-home devices, such as smart light switches and thermostats.

The Amazon Halo Rise is a bedside companion that combines a wake-up light, an alarm clock, and a sleep tracker—and you don’t need to wear a special sensor or watch. The Halo Rise has a companion app for configuration, and it also collects all kinds of interesting info about your previous night’s sleep, including how much you actually slept, how deeply, and ambient conditions in your bedroom—including lighting levels, the temperature, and even the humidity. When it’s paired with an Amazon Echo smart speaker, you can add music as a wake-up option, as well as set or cancel alarms with your voice, get your sleep report read to you, or, if you have an Echo Show smart display, your sleep data appears on-screen. At about $140, the Halo Rise is pricey—and that doesn’t include an optional $4 monthly subscription that adds access to workout videos, recipes, body composition info, and more. In testing for this guide, the Halo Rise delivered on its wake-up call duties, and sleep geeks will find the stats interesting (we also believe they were accurate). It’s fine to skip the subscription, although you get a six-month trial to decide for yourself.

Smart LED bulbs

For a cheaper alternative to a wake-up light, smart light bulbs are easy to add to the lamp on your nightstand or any other light fixture. Once the bulb is screwed into your lamp and connected to your Wi-Fi, you can use its app to create a schedule of wake-up times and even select what color you want the light to be to help you wake up with ease. Several smart bulbs also have a gradual wake-up functionality that mimics sunrise, similar to the way a wake-up light works.

Several Wirecutter staffers have had success using Philips Hue smart bulbs (our current upgrade pick) as a wake-up light. Under the Automations tab in the Hue app, click on Wake Up with Light and choose your wake-up time; your bulb will start to brighten around 30 minutes before, with a fade duration of 30 minutes. An even cheaper alternative is the Wyze Bulb Color (our current top pick), an A19 bulb that delivers bright light and excellent colors. It also has a Sleep Mode that can simulate sunrise and sunset at set times of day.

Smart window shades

If you need even more light to shake you into consciousness, smart window shades can let in the morning sun at a set time each day—or they can be set up to rise automatically based on local sunrise and sunset times. Because these shades can be set to close automatically as well, you don’t have to worry about running around to open or close them each night—although all of them allow for remote control using a smartphone, and many can be controlled through an included remote or voice commands when paired with Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Google Home.

We like these best because they are easy to control, are very quiet, look great, and offer the most possibilities for smart-home integration—which means you can trigger other smart devices like thermostats when shades open or close, or even set the shades to react to you coming home from work. Starting around $500 per opening (which doesn’t include the required roughly $80), they are undoubtedly expensive. If you’re looking for something slightly more affordable, check out IKEA Fyrtur shades, which aren’t customizable and come in a limited range of sizes and colors but provide the same wake-up effect at a fraction of the price.

Temperature controls

Having the right temperature in your bedroom can go a long way to helping you get a good night’s sleep. It also makes it a lot easier to get out of bed when the floor is the proper temperature or you know the downstairs isn’t like a meat locker in the morning.

A smart thermostat can be adjusted remotely using an app or by voice via a smart speaker, so you can tweak temperatures from your bed as needed. The Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium can also pay attention to and learn your preferences, then adjust temperatures automatically at times that match your daily routine. It can even tap into local weather information to provide the most comfortable temperature—also taking into account humidity. The Ecobee thermostat also includes a built-in air quality monitor, which allergy sufferers might appreciate, and a remote temperature sensor (the best we’ve tested). These sensors ensure temperatures around your home are balanced, so you don’t end up tossing and turning at night from an overly stuffy bedroom.

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Stevie Flavio
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