Struggling to Wake Up? You Probably Need to Change Your Alarm Sound

The first tune you hear each morning can make a big difference.


Most of us set an alarm to wake up each morning, but can struggle to really feel alert after we hear it. According to a new study, we don’t just immediately need a good cup of coffee to get us up. It actually might be the type of sound we’re choosing to rouse us that’s the problem.

Does your alarm beep or blare annoying mechanical noises at you? If so, you probably figured the abrupt jolts would be better at getting you out of bed. Researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology also thought so, but were surprised to learn the opposite is true. “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,” said study author Stuart McFarlane said in a press release “This was unexpected.” 

The results of the study are certainly promising to those of us wanting to become better at mornings, but they note it’s especially crucial for people with careers who are required to be alert at a moment’s notice, like firefighters and ambulance drivers. 

Researchers are also still looking into the why more soothing melodies work better. Co-author Adrian Dyer said, “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.” 

They also mention the need to look into which precise types of melodies and rhythms are the most effective at waking us up without lingering grogginess. This study was small with just 50 participants filling out surveys from their own homes. Still, it’s worth trying out for yourself if you’re someone who’s perpetually grumpy in the mornings. Remember, the key word is “melodic,” so choosing something like heavy metal probably won’t be quite as effective. 

Who knows, the answer to finally becoming a morning person might just be behind finding the right tune!

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