Scientists Have Figured Out The Best Alarm Sound For Waking Up

Scientists think they've figured out the best sounds for waking up in the morning. Do you have these going on your alarm clock?

By Doug Norrie | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

waking up

We all know the feeling. It’s the morning and the bed is feeling extra comfortable, the weighted blanket is feeling extra heavy, the pillow is softest and the threat of the morning rolling in is a distant thought in a sweet dreamscape. But then there’s blaring intrusion of the alarm clock and you are reminded that another day is beginning, disturbing the serene idea of sleep. Well, on the waking up front, scientists might have discovered something that can make those first few minutes of waking just a little bit easier. There are definitely better choices for alarm clock sounds than that blaring, car alarm-like disaster many of us are used to. It’s time to use science to make waking up easier. 

While the perfect waking up sound is going to differ just a bit among different people, scientists are saying that when choosing an alarm we should take certain things into account. For starters, it’s good to know that those repeating beep-beep-beep-like tones that come from alarm clocks and, now, cell phones, do mostly get the job done. The preinstalled 500 Hz options typically found on cell phones now do show the ability to bring a brain into a more alert state. So sticking with those and calling it a day (or a morning) is more than effective. 

But what scientists have also found is that tunes the person can remember, enjoy, or even sing and hum along to have the best effect on the brain in the morning. A pleasant, but actively engaging tune like a popular song, in certain keys, and with a certain frequency will bring the brain into a waking state faster than other options. According to Science Alert, there are three major things to check off when it comes to waking up alarm sounds. The first is the aforementioned melody or tune, making sure it’s something you’ll even subconsciously be humming along to. And then make sure the frequency is 500 Hz or in the key of C with beats in the 100-200 per minute range. 

waking up

So what are some of these song options? Well, we’ve got those covered as well. A couple of years ago, Spotify’s David M. Greenberg did a study (via MBG Health) that drew on his psychologist background and he found some tunes that lined up along this criteria and showed the ability to help folks in waking up. Some examples were Viva La Vida by Coldplay, Lovely Day by Bill Withers, Money on My Mind by Sam Smith, On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons, Confident by Demi Lovato, and the appropriately-titled Wake Up by Arcade Fire (a personal favorite). 

Understand that these waking up suggestions to combat sleep inertia are best for a more pleasant approach to wakefulness, bringing our brains into the day on a positive note. If it’s an emergency situation that is a bit different. In this case, those “Wake up, Wake up,” yelling alarms do the trick, or more harsh frequencies of sound can snap a brain awake. But that’s not best on a day-to-day basis. In the latter case, try some of the song suggestions, or follow the criteria outlined by scientific studies.