The sound of your alarm going off in the morning isn’t typically a pleasant experience. Whether it’s chimes, beeps, or talk radio, that alarm means one thing: You have to drag yourself out of bed. But new research from Australia shows that the kind of alarm tone you use might have a noticeable effect on how easily you wake up. A study from researchers at RMIT University suggests musical alarms can help reduce morning grogginess.
“You would assume that a startling ‘beep beep beep’ alarm would improve alertness,” Stuart McFarlane, lead author on the study, said in a press release, “but our data revealed that melodic alarms may be the key element.”
McFarlane and his team set out to study how alarm sounds affect morning grogginess, also known as sleep inertia. To do it, they gathered a group of 50 participants who filled out an online survey about their sleep and alarm habits. The participants gave information on the alarm sound they preferred, reported how they felt about it, and used standardized sleep inertia criteria to rate their grogginess level after waking.
After analyzing the responses, the researchers found a correlation between melodic sounds and reported reductions in sleep inertia. In addition, sounds that the participants described as neutral—neither melodic nor unmelodic—showed a correlation with increased grogginess. Although McFarlane cautioned that more research is needed to understand exactly what sounds have an effect on sleepiness, it’s a compelling finding. Musical melodies seem to wake people up better.
“We think that a harsh ‘beep beep beep’ might work to disrupt or confuse our brain activity when waking,” said study co-author Adrian Dyer. “A more melodic sound like the Beach Boys ‘Good Vibrations’ or The Cure’s ‘Close to Me’ may help us transition to a waking state in a more effective way.”
Getting a good night’s rest is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, so it’s no surprise there are lots of products and strategies out there to help you sleep well and wake up refreshed. First, there are the usual suspects, like comfy pajamas and pillows or a weighted blanket. There’s also quite a few high-tech solutions, including noise-making sleep earbuds and glow lamps that wakes you more naturally with soft, warm light. But with this new research in mind, you can add a new strategy to the list: Set your alarm to play The Beach Boys.
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