I wake up to a clock that simulates the sunrise and sings gentle bird songs at me. When it works right, I'm a functioning human being. When my cat wakes me up by screaming in my face, I'm a mess. If a new study on alarm tones holds up, then I'm not alone.
Researchers at RMIT University in Australia investigated how alarm tones and wake-up music tie into sleep inertia, which is the feeling of grogginess some people experience in the mornings. The effects of sleep inertia can last for hours, putting a serious drag on the early part of the day.
The team asked 50 participants to fill out an online survey on the type of alarm sound they use. They also rated their grogginess and alertness levels. "You would assume that a startling 'beep beep beep' alarm would improve alertness, but our data revealed that melodic alarms may be the key element. This was unexpected," said RMIT doctoral researcher Stuart McFarlane in a release on Monday.
The researchers published the results of the study in the journal PLOS One last week. The team isn't drawing hard and fast conclusions from the data just yet, but is calling for further study into how alarm tones, sounds and music play into sleep inertia.
"We think that a harsh 'beep beep beep' might work to disrupt or confuse our brain activity when waking, while 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," said study co-author Adrian Dyer, an associate professor at RMIT.
This doesn't necessarily mean you should abandon your shrieking banshee of an alarm, but it might be worth experimenting with some rhythmic and melodic wake-up music instead.