Alarm sounds can affect wakefulness in the morning.

04 Feb Alarm sounds can affect wakefulness in the morning.

What kind of alarm tone do you have sound off in the morning to wake you up: the standard beep, your own preferred selected song, or nature sounds? A recent study has shown that, pending the alarm tone, you can either wake up groggy or refreshed! Sleep inertia, the grogginess feeling that occurs right upon waking, is a common occurrence in our busy 24-hour world and can have lasting effects for up to four hours into the day.

This four hour long effect can have major disruptions on overall functioning during that period and could even lead to accidents in the work place. Specifically, those who work high intensity jobs like doctors and other emergency workers, it’s clear that limiting the feelings of sleep inertia are of high importance.

This study, performed by RMIT University and published in PLoS One, looked at varying alarm tones and the self-reported level of tiredness experienced upon waking from a night’s sleep. The research involved 50 participants who utilised a specialized online survey that enabled them to remotely post their results from their own home. Each participant was asked to log the type of sound they used for their alarm, be it the standard alarm tone or something else, and then rate their level of grogginess and level of alertness against standardized sleep inertia criteria.

Results from the study showed a connection between sounds ranked as melodic by participants and an overall reduction in perceived sleep inertia whereas those sounds rated as neutral (neither unmelodic nor melodic) had a stronger relationship to reports of feeling sleep inertia at a greater level.

In our busy lives, we often rely on alarms to wake us from sleep so we can get as much as possible without missing our daily commitments. Going forward with this knowledge in mind, it may be beneficial to abandon the annoying beep sounding alarms and use a tone that’s more preferred like a favourite song.