I’m sure there are countless crimes against humanity I should be mad at Apple for, but right now, I’m focused on one particular sin. In one of their recent commercials, they begin by featuring their signature “radar” alarm clock sound. It quickly becomes clear that the sound is intended to be diegetic to the commercial, featuring someone waking up and later going about their day. But by then, the sound has already taken its toll. My blood pressure is up, my heart is beating and I’m filled with the same anxiety as I am each morning as I wake up earlier than my body wants.
Sure, I could pick a less abrasive tone, but abrasive gets the job done. I hear it, I wake up, I turn it off and I begin my morning of involuntary scrolling. But could I be setting myself up for a better day if I eased into consciousness with a more mellow sound?
According to a recent study from RMIT University in Australia, waking up to melodic sounds can increase alertness and decrease grogginess. In this context, melodic sound is defined as “a sequence of single notes that is musically satisfying; a tune.” Apparently, the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” was considered the perfect example of a melodic sound to wake up to — simple, upbeat and without harsh tones. The majority of people in the study listened to the same sound every single day, too, so apparently, “Good Vibrations” doesn’t get old.
Not all sounds we might consider pleasant are good for waking up to, though. In fact, sounds like gentle rain or ocean waves might just send you back to sleep. And some particularly heavy sleepers might manage to sleep through even “Good Vibrations.” For that reason, the “best” alarm sound is basically whatever actually works for you. End-of-the-world tornado horns and shock bracelets might be a terrifying way to start your day, but products designed to wake you up this way exist for a reason.
For what it’s worth, your iPhone already comes with a solid set of melodic and non-melodic alarm options. To change them, just go to your Clock app, hit “Edit” and click on the specific time you have set to wake up. From there, click “Sound,” and you’ll see their list of choices. Almost all of Apple’s specialty sounds, except for the default “Radar,” are somewhat melodic, though a few mirror the sound of receiving a phone call or FaceTime, which is anxiety-inducing in itself.
If you’re a true psychopath, you can also utilize Apple’s set of “classic” sounds, including “Bark” and “Old Car Horn.” There’s also “Piano Riff,” which must somehow have copyright access to the beginning of “Bad to the Bone,” “Duck” and the very cool and badass “Motorcycle.”
I honestly think you’re the fucking weirdest person on the planet if you decide to wake up to the sound of dogs barking, but whatever works for you. I suppose my tendency to fuel my mornings with the anxious adrenaline of “Radar” isn’t really any healthier.