Praise The Alarm! And Ride Softly Into The Morning
- Recent research published in PLOS ONE found that using a disruptive alarm to jolt yourself awake actually may be less effective at helping you shake your grogginess.
- People who used melodic tones reported feeling more awake more quickly than those who used stereotypical loud alarms.
- If you don’t wake up properly, your performance can be hindered anywhere from 30 minutes up to four hours, which may affect everything from your morning ride to tasks at your job.
Waking up for a morning workout—or, let’s be honest, to head to the office—can be tricky. The anticipation of hitting snooze once or five times probably has you setting an alarm to a loud, blaring tone that jars you awake but still leaves you feeling groggy no matter how early you crawled into bed. Sure, you could just need more shut-eye. But if you got a solid night’s sleep, you might be using the wrong sounds to wake yourself up.
Recent research from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Melbourne, Australia published in PLOS ONE found that using a disruptive, blaring alarm to jolt yourself awake actually may be less effective at helping you shake your grogginess than using a melodious tone.
Fifty participants responded to a survey which asked questions about what type of alarm they used and what their feelings were toward the wake-up sound, and asked participants to rate things like their feelings of grogginess and how likely they were to hit snooze. The responses revealed that people who used harmonious alarms actually felt alert more quickly and reported feeling less groggy than those who used a typical blaring alarm noise.
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“Our surprising results suggest that the melodic aesthetic of alarm sounds may be beneficial in reducing as morning grogginess,” Stuart McFarlane, lead study author, Ph.D.(c) in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT told Bicycling.
That’s likely because the ups and downs of notes within melodic structures may promote alertness more effectively than monotonous single-note varieties, like your typical blaring alarm, McFarlane said.
As for the type of relaxing tones—whether it’s piano music or the soothing sounds of songs like “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys or “Close to Me” by The Cure—that might not matter as much.
The study authors are continuing to research if certain sounds are more beneficial than others. However, based on the current research and what is known about melody, relaxing tones can be produced in many forms, including voice, instrument, and composition, McFarlane explained.
So, how can the right alarm tone impact your morning workout? The length of grogginess upon waking can vary from person to person—lasting anywhere from 30 minutes up to four hours—can affect your performance upon waking up, McFarlane said. Shaking this drowsy feeling with the right alarm tone can help you feel more ready to take on your workout. And, it can help ensure that when you’re performing tasks like a circuit workout or an early morning ride that require peak cognition—not just sleepily going through the motions—there is less likelihood for accidents that can cause injury to occur, McFarlane said.