Want a simple way to wake up in the morning feeling more alert? Stop using that jarring alarm tone to wake yourself up and replace it with a melodic song.
According to a new study out of Australia, using a harsh tone to wake yourself may actually work against you, leaving you feeling groggy. This groggy feeling is known as sleep inertia, and it can temporarily impair our ability to think, remember, and react.
The study, which was published in the journal PLoS One, found that alarm sounds people deemed to be “melodic” were linked with people feeling like they had an easier time becoming awake and alert.
The lead researcher Stuart McFarlane explained what makes a tone be perceived as melodic is the presence of at least two notes, time, and the sequence in which the notes are sounded in relation to each other. An example he gave of a melodic alarm tone is the introduction to Madonna’s song “Borderline.”
McFarlane theorized that perhaps the rise and fall of notes in a more melodic alarm helps to focus our brain’s attention. On the flip side, a more monotonous “beep beep beep” alarm might raise anxiety and promote confusion.