Woman waking up in the morning

How to feel more awake: change your classic alarm tone for a melodic tune, say scientists

Are you the sort of person who hits the snooze button over and over again each morning? Read this.

The world is divided into two types of people: those who wake up easily in the mornings, and those who can’t stop hammering the snooze button on their alarms.

Of course, we all know that the sleep afforded by our snooze buttons is a false economy: the five extra minutes we gain are actually disturbing our sleep cycles. A lot.

So how do we overcome this issue? Is there an easy way to ensure we start each day with all the energy of an early bird, as opposed to a perpetually tired pigeon?

Well, scientists believe the answer is ‘yes’. All we have to do, apparently, is switch our alarm tone.

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A new study, which was published in the journal PLOS One, asked 50 people about the type of sound they preferred to wake with, how they felt about that sound, and how alert or groggy they felt after waking up.

And, while you might assume that a harsher, louder noise is key to shocking yourself awake in the mornings, it turns out that the complete opposite is true.

That’s right: a tuneful melody is actually the best way to warm brains up for the day’s activity. Go figure.

A sleeping woman
How to get a good night’s sleep? Change your alarm tone.

In the study, lead author Stuart McFarlane, a doctoral researcher at RMIT University, has said that the more monotonous “beep beep beep” of a common alarm tends to raise anxiety and promote confusion.

Songs with melodies, on the other hand, have an energising effect, “increasing arousal, cognition and attention.” This, in turn, helps us to combat ‘sleep inertia’ (aka feel less groggy) as we wake up.

Sleep inertia typically lasts for up to 30 minutes after waking and has been shown to extend for two to four hours, McFarlane says.

“If we can reduce these symptoms by altering the alarm sounds we use to more melodic and tuneful varieties, we may at least head towards safer conditions for everyone,” he adds.

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So which are the best wake-up tunes? Well, it seems retro pop is the way forward, according to researchers: think Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys and Close To Me by The Cure.

“Another tune that I am trying currently is Borderline by Madonna,” McFarlane says in the report, although he has pointed out that people’s personal music tastes might influence how effective an alarm song is.

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While more research need to be done into the connection between sounds and wakefulness, this study has certainly given us food for thought. So, if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to swap our classic alarm for Lizzo’s Juice.

Images: Getty


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