How melodic alarms could reduce morning grogginess?

Beep beep beep or Beach Boys?


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Feeling Groggy or clumsy? Blame your awful alarm sound.

Yes, a new study suggests that the sounds you wake up to could be affecting how groggy and clumsy you are in the morning.

Offering a solution on this, the study conducted by the RMIT University suggests that melodic alarms could improve alertness levels, with harsh alarm tones connected to expanded degrees of morning grogginess.

The examination could have significant ramifications for any individual who needs to perform at their peak soon after waking, for example, move workers and emergency first responders.

A total of 50 participants were involved in the study. All participants consented to participate by completing the online study. Each person logged what type of sound they used to wake up, and then rated their grogginess and alertness levels against standardized sleep inertia criteria.

Lead author, RMIT doctoral researcher Stuart McFarlane, said: “morning grogginess – of sleep inertia – was a severe problem in our 24-hour world.”

“If you don’t wake properly, your work performance can be degraded for periods up to four hours, and that has been linked to major accidents.”

“You would assume that a startling ‘beep beep beep’ alarm would improve alertness, but our data revealed that melodic alarms might be the key element. This was unexpected.”

Co-author Associate Professor Adrian Dyer, from RMIT’s School of Media and Communication and Digital Ethnography Research Centre, said “the research could help contribute to the design of more efficient interventions for people to use on their own devices to wake up properly.”

“This study is important, as even NASA astronauts report that sleep inertia affects their performance on the International Space Station.”

“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.”

“If we can continue to improve our understanding of the connection between sounds and waking state, there could be potential for applications in many fields, particularly with recent advancements in sleep technology and artificial intelligence.”

The surprising findings are published in PLoS One.


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