Philips Wake Up Light review (HF3520)


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Erin Lawrence

philips wake up light, sunrise, sleep, reviewSleep is so critical to every facet of our lives. It affects our bodies, our minds, and our mood. So if we can make improvements to our overall sleep, it should be a game changer, right?

The Philips Wake Up Light is supposed to help with your overall sleep-wake rhythms. I had a chance to wake up with this bedside alarm clock with simulated sunrise for a few weeks and this is what I learned about it.

What is Philips Wake Up Light? What can it do?

The Philips wake Up Light, model HF3520 to be exact, is a large cone shaped alarm clock with a small digital screen and a built in light that can simulate a sunrise. It’s got standard alarm clock features like a snooze plus different sound options for the wake up.

The Wake Up Light is quite large and takes up a lot of space on the bedside table.

What’s different about Wake Up Light?

Surprisingly to me there’s no smartphone connection with this clock. There’s no app and thus everything about it needs to be managed on-device. There are other wake up lights out there that do have this smartphone set up option and it’s very easy. philips wake up light, sunrise, sleep, review

I will say right out of the gate that the wake up sounds that accompany the light are much more natural sounding than the ones on the Philips Somneo Wake up Light I tried last year, which you can read by clicking here too. That’s a nice improvement.

This light also feels a lot more powerful and brighter than both the Beddi and Somneo; perhaps it’s the larger size of the light.

Philips also says this clock “is the only one scientifically proven to work” — that the company has done independent tests that show it’s effective, and that 92% of Philips Wake-up light users find it is easier to get out of bed.

philips wake up light, sunrise, sleep, review

Why wake up with light?

If there’s anyone out there who actually loves the sound of a ringing alarm clock before the sun is up, I’ve never met them. Most of us find alarm clocks a very necessary evil, with emphasis on the evil. For many years I had to wake up at about 3am so I know how hard it can be to get up before dawn.

I did some reading about wake up lights, and they’re supposed to make it easier for you to wake up by simulating a sunrise over about 20-30 minutes. The theory goes that by the time the alarm actually goes off, your body has already begun to respond to the natural light brightening and it’s gently nudging you to wakefulness.

I will say that during my 3am wake up heyday I did use a wake up light, and I tested out others, and I am a believer in this type of technology to help you wake up. I find it gentler, and easier to wake up and get out of bed when it’s still dark, when the room has a sunrise glow to it, even if it is artificial.

Setting up Philips Wake Up Light

While I’m a fan of this technology, I am NOT a fan of the user interface on this clock. As I noted earlier there’s no smartphone connection with it so al the programming has to be done on the device. Programming it is not user friendly and definitely requites the use of the manual for interpretation. The pictographical buttons aren’t self explanatory, and the programming sequences are a bit confusing, so it took me a couple of tries to get everything set properly.

My advice: set aside some time to sit down with the manual and program it when you can focus, not right before bed.

philips wake up light, sunrise, sleep, review

Features of Philips Wake Up Light

Wake Up Sound options

One of the features I like about this clock is that you can choose between five natural sounds to wake up to, in addition to an FM-only radio. There’s birds chirping, birds with a musical backdrop, musical spa sounds, rainforest and the ocean (with some rather aggressive sounding seagulls). PhilIps dubs these ‘Bird Song, Birds in the forest, Zen Garden, Gentle piano and Seaside Sounds. I opted for option 1; birds chirping.

Wake up Light options

It’s possible to make some adjustments to the light intensity and duration for your wake up. Using the cryptic buttons you can adjust how bright the light will be and how long the ‘dawn duration time’ will last. The default is 30 minutes by you can change it to as little as 20 minutes or as much as 40.

Powerful glow

One of the things I like about the Philips wake Up light is how powerful and colourful the sunrise effect is.

The glow comes on and it’s very red, much like a natural sunrise. Then it transitions from red to orange to yellow then a warm white. It’s bright enough to wake you but not so bright that it’s blinding. Either way, you can adjust it to what’s right for you.

Snooze options

You can snooze you wake up if you want to. Tapping the front of the light snoozes the audio but not the light. Light and sound controls are on the side edges of the clock. That’s also where your two alarm activation buttons are; you can turn your alarms on or off for the week by tapping the buttons and you get visual confirmation the alarm is set. The snooze lasts 9 minutes and doesn’t seem to be adjustable which is a bit of a disappointment.

You can set two different alarms for different times of day or different days of the week.

philips wake up light, sunrise, sleep, review

Fall asleep to a sunset

There’s also a fall asleep function on this clock which is a nice added bonus. It’s the wake up in reverse. You push the fall asleep button, which is a face icon with some zzz’s on the side and the light will come on, then fade out over anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes. The natural darkening, helps nudge your body towards rest by simulating a sunset.

Overall review: Philips Wake Up Light HF3520

Overall, after initially hating this clock because of the tedious and confusing set up, I’ve really warmed up to it. I really like the natural wake up sounds, and I find the glow that transitions from red to orange to yellow and white to be very much like a natural sunrise, and it’s the perfect brightness level, and I find I’m often awake before the sounds kick in. I also like that it has the fall asleep option too.

On the downside, like I said, you’re going to hate programming this clock, or resetting the alarm times, and you will definitely want to keep the manual handy. It’s also really large and takes up a lot of space.

Overall I do find it easier to wake up with this light and I feel rested and like I’m easing into my day better when I use it.

In the end, this clock just might be displacing my old wake up light from the bedside table. Philips Wake Up Light HF3520 sells for about $189 CAD from places like Amazon.

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  1. Rob on December 16, 2019 at 6:19 am

    The idea of this light is good but the execution has one small flaw from what I can see. The sun rise is BLUE not Orange. Blue light helps you wake up and is used therapeutically for this purpose.

    I ran one of these lights for a few months and ultimately ditched it for an Amazon Echo Show which can do the same simulation of a sunrise with the wrong colours and of course it can do lots of other things too.

    • Erin L on December 16, 2019 at 8:49 am

      Great point! I guess the sky/clouds is what turns colours. And, yes, the Echo Show does have that feature but I haven’t tried that aspect. I’ll have to give it a go.

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