Starting the day on the right foot can be key to making the most of your waking hours. So many of us find ourselves groggy, cranky, and slow when we first roll out of bed, though. There's nothing to replace a good sleep schedule, but one small, free tweak could do us better than a fresh cup of coffee.
Researchers at Australia's RMIT University have just published a study showing that harsh, blaring alarms don't do us any favors first thing in the day. By changing our alarm tone to a melodic alert or song, however, we can measurably stave of sleep inertia — grogginess — and perhaps crucially improve the first four hours of the workday.
"We think that a harsh 'beep beep beep' might work to disrupt or confuse our brain activity when waking," said coauthor Adrian Dyer, "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."
The research team emphasized the importance of these findings for professions that demand immediate, high-focus engagement, such as first responders and shift workers, but the results are clearly widely applicable. If you're trying to train yourself to respond well to your alarm clock, start planning the night before. It's best not to lean too hard on caffeine. And if you pick the right song for waking up to, you've already given your future self something to look forward to.