While it used to be that the sound of a ringing or buzzing alarm clock was the go-to way to wake up after a good night's sleep, you have a lot more options today. Now, alarm clocks that can play your favorite songs, gently wake you with a sunlight-simulating glow, or that feature customized tones are all popular. But is one option better than all the rest? According to RMIT University researchers, if you want to start your day more alert and less groggy, skip blaring horns and choose a melodic tone or your favorite tunes instead. In their study, which was published in Journal of Sleep Disorders & Therapy, researchers noted that "melodic" tones, no matter the genre, can reduce sleep inertia more than a beeping alarm clock. This simply means songs that you can easily hum or sing.
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The study authors created their own app for participants to use as a custom alarm clock on their smartphones. After the tones would sound, the volunteers would then wake up and complete a game-like activity (quickly touching their phones when different colored shapes would change) to test their attention levels. "Melodic alarm sounds resulted in participants having faster and more accurate responses, compared with a control group who woke up using classic alarm sounds without melody," the team shared in a statement.
When it comes to other types off sounds, like sirens, the team shared exactly how the body responds. "We reviewed all the available research on both sound alarm design and awakening in different age groups," the researchers noted. "This revealed that in emergency scenarios, children are also receptive to how alarm sound design affects their waking state." Stuart McFarlane, one of the researchers, explained that low-pitched sounds or human voices can help lessen the chance of sleep inertia than a siren or high-pitched alarm. Plus, they found specifically that kids were more alert when they heard lower-pitched tones.
In turn, the team recommends that everyone should choose to set their favorite song or soothing tone on their alarm clocks whenever possible. "Digital audio is now readily accessible and easy to share, meaning that when we go to bed we can set ourselves an alarm consisting of almost any conceivable sound," the study authors said.