Every morning my alarm goes off. And every morning, without fail, I hit that snooze button — hard.
I’ve always chalked this up to not being a morning person. After all, there are many others who abuse the snooze button as egregiously as I do. However, according to science, I might be placing too much blame on myself. The harsh sound of my alarm could also be to blame for my morning malaise.
The type of alarm you use may affect your morning alertness
The current study was published in the journal PLoS One and suggests that using a melodic alarm in the morning, rather than a jarring beep-tone, may help individuals feel more alert.
For the study, a group of Australian researchers recruited 50 people and asked them to fill out an anonymous questionnaire. They asked what type of sound they preferred to wake with, how they felt about that sound, and how alert or groggy they felt upon waking.
The scientists discovered that more musical-sounding alarms helped people feel more awake and alert in the morning. Using a melodic alarm tone helped focus the brain’s attention and reduce grogginess.
Meanwhile, a traditional alarm clock (such as one that repeats a single note abrasively) can induce sleep inertia — which is a term for the grogginess people often feel upon waking. The same goes for an alarm that’s set to a talk radio station or a recording of someone telling you to get the hell out of bed. As much as you might hypothetically like those alarms, they’re not doing good things for preventing that weighed-down feeling you might experience in the morning.
Sleep inertia, along with tempting us to pound the snooze button, more crucially impairs our ability to think, remember and react.
Though this study is potentially useful for people like emergency responders or airline pilots (who are required to be fully functioning upon waking), there are still several drawbacks.
Limitations-wise, the study only used a small sample of people. The authors didn’t screen for any sleep disorders. And there were no controls. Further research must be done to figure out what this data truly means. However, there’s no harm in experimenting with a melodic alarm substitution in the meantime. I, for one, will be waking up to classical music tomorrow morning.
See Also: Here’s why you always wake up at 3am