Philips Somneo sleep-wake light review

By reviews / 2. June 2020

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Can we ever get enough sleep? The answer is: probably not. And with the temptation of our smartphones lurking on the bedside table, with all that sleep-disrupting blue light emanating from them, it’s no wonder we’re not getting enough quality rest.

A new alarm clock may be able to convince you to ditch your phone as an alarm, providing a more restful ambience and an easier wake up call. I recently got my hands on a Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-Up light to test and review at home.

Philips Somneo is an alarm clock that has a built in light. The light simulates the sun, either as it rises or sets, and the clock also has sound effects and white noise to help you drift off to sleep. It’s a fairly large clock, but its soft donut shape gives it really nice esthetics.

When set with an alarm, the Somneo light will come on slowly, starting with a dim glow, then brightening gradually over a length of time you can choose, until it brightens your room like a natural sunrise. Similarly, you can set the light to dim gradually, simulating sunset and triggering your body to head for sleep.

You can customize the maximum brightness level too. There’s also a Breathe setting that brightens and dims the light organically so you can match your breaths to it for bedtime relaxation.

There are several sound options on the Philips Somneo. You can set them to play as white noise to help you sleep, or as the alarm sound. Sound options range from spa-style music, to nature sounds, and even Tibetan singing bowls.

There’s also an FM radio which you can use for passive listening, or as part of your wake up routine.

The Somneo sleep-wake light has a night light built in, so that if you wake in the dark, you can tap the top of the clock to light your way, without turning on bright lights.

Using the Philips Somneo’s touch screen menus, it’s possible to set two different alarms; one for weekdays and one for weekends, or a different time for each partner. I really like this feature.

To set the alarms you’ll tap Home and the Alarm button, which is a small bell icon. here you can scan your currently set alarms. To change them, there’s an icon on the far right: a bell with a gear. Click that to adjust the time, then touch the Clock icon (So Home-Alarm-BellGear-Clock-Set time. See? You’ve got to dive deep.) then use the up/down buttons to adjust the time; hour first, then minutes.

Initially I wasn’t sure I was snoozing the Somneo alarm correctly, and thus was paranoid I’d fall back asleep and miss work. Turns out the snooze is easy. You just tap the small button on top of the clock and it will shut off for 9 more minutes. That will only snooze the audio, the brightening light will stay on.

The speaker quality on this alarm clock isn’t great, but hey, it’s an alarm clock, not a Bose home stereo. It sounds quite flat and tinny, but again, this is not a device you’ll use for most of your music listening. It’s designed to wake you up and send you to sleep for a few minutes or an hour at a time.

So, does Philips Somneo work?
I’ve used a wake up light for a couple of years now and I have to say I find it easier to wake up, and more gentle. By the time my alarm sound goes off I feel like I’m ready to wake up, thanks to the light. With Somneo, I get the same gentle lighting effect, and the soft, round, sunny shape looks nice on the bedside table. The customized lighting levels allowed me to turn the brightness down so it wasn’t too glaring first thing in the morning. Overall, I really like this wake-up style, and think it works well.

I liked a lot of things about the Somneo. The shape and design are standout and sexy. The soft, warm lighting, and adjustable levels make it easy to get exactly the soft sunrise wakeup you want.
If there were some things I didn’t love about he Somneo, it was that touch screen multi-layered menu.

I didn’t love the quality of the sound effect options for wakeups. I found them to be just a bit on the jarring side and somewhat harsh and fake sounding. The scratchy speaker doesn’t help.
Despite that, I like the light, think the alarms work well and there’s plenty of options for how you want to wake up. I find it a nice addition to my decor and my sleep routine.

Philips Somneo sells for about $219 CAD from Philips and Amazon.

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