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What makes the best alarm tone?

Very few people look forward to their alarms going off in the morning (unless it’s to wake us for vacation). It’s jarring to be woken from deep sleep to the abrasive sound of an alarm, but there may be a way to reset your morning routine so waking up every morning is a more pleasant experience.

There are so many choices when it comes to alarm tones that it can seem somewhat overwhelming. Experts have actually weighed in on the topic and provided some research that can help you wake up feeling more alert and ready to face the day. No one wants to experience FYOA (similar to FOMO but where you actually Fear Your Own Alarm), so we’ve done some research of our own to find the most soothing sounds to start your day.

alarm clock
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What do the experts say?

A 2020 Australian study found that certain alarm noises can actually decrease your morning fog and help you wake up more quickly. Study participants who woke up to a melodic song had “lower levels of morning grogginess” than those who wake up to a traditional beeping sound. Songs with melodies seem to have an energizing effect, “increasing arousal, cognition and attention,” which helps you feel less groggy, researchers wrote.

Other researchers agree. Dr. James Giordano told that “the ideal alarm or wake-up cues are those that elicit a gentle, relatively gradual shift from deeper to lighter sleep, to then allow a more natural, less stressful awakening. It’s best to avoid the often-jarring effect of a sudden loud alarm, which can cause activation of the sympathetic nervous system.”

rainforest sounds
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What’s the best tone to start the day?

The good news is there are tons of options that elicit a soothing, less stressful morning. Some top alarm tones include birds singing; flowing sounds of a stream or river; waves crashing; soft instruments like violins, harps, or pianos; raindrops; the sound of crickets; or your favorite song (unless that’s one from AC/DC or Metallica).

If you have an iPhone, you can choose one of dozens of tones like Sencha, Crystals, Night Owl, or Silk. The default alarm tone is Radar, which is much stronger and more jarring than, say, Waves. But fear not, because you don’t have to commit to one of these. It’s pretty easy to change it. There’s no harm in experimenting to see if a new tone will change the way you approach the day.

iPhone alarms
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How to change your alarm tone

If you have multiple alarms set on your phone, you can actually choose a different sound for each one. Simply open the Clock app on your iPhone, hit the Alarm icon to edit your alarm sound, hit Edit at the top-right of the screen, then tap the alarm you want to edit.

But you don’t just have to choose from the ones available. Scroll to the top of the Sound menu in the Edit Sound menu of your Clock app. Click on the Tone Store, which will take you to the iTunes Store app. Then, you can choose Tones from the menu, where you can buy a wide range of ringtones. You can also set your alarm to play a song from your iTunes library by clicking the same button. Under Songs, hit Pick a Song. That will take you to your iTunes library.

The bottom line is you should choose an alarm tone that will get you out of bed in the morning without stressing you out. If that means choosing a sound so alarming (excuse the pun) that it sends you leaping out of bed and it works for you, then the more obnoxious, the better. Set your alarm far away from your sleeping self so you have to rise out of bed to turn off the bullhorn or fire alarm you selected and go about your day.

However, sounds like waves crashing onto the beach and birds chirping in a rainforest may not seem like the tone that will get you out of bed (in fact, it sounds like it would put you deeper into a slumber), but the experts have spoken, and it seems these sounds may actually set you up for a more pleasant day. It’s worth a shot.

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