Ringin’ in the Morning: The Best Alarms to Wake Up To

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As the days grow longer and alarms spring forward, a universal challenge seems to daunt those who care about their sleep: waking up. Changing alarms every three days, I decided to conduct a series of tests over two months of waking up to discover which alarm sound produced the most pleasant—yet motivating—wake-up experience. 

Like any serious scientific experiment, I needed some controls: I made sure to go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up every morning at a consistent time. 

I set my alarm each night and shut my eyes. The next morning’s results were surprising.

Radial (Default) by Apple: 2/10

The default tone for Apple ringtones, years of dreadful mornings come packed into this wake-up call. Boring and annoying, this ringtone is neither motivating nor serenading and yields an overall unpleasant wakeup experience.

War by Hypnotic Brass Ensemble: 5/10

This deep, brassy interlude was the anthem of champions…the first morning I woke up to it. However, its hearty rhythm and bass drop quickly became too overstimulating for a 7:30 am wakeup. My final consensus: while a good wakeup call on days of important presentations and tests, it easily gets annoying, almost inducing sleep again just to spite its good-to-do vibe.

Chalet by Apple: 3/10

The delicate harp strings of this gentle ringtone sound like waking up in a meadow field, the sun gently caressing your eyelids. In fact, this ringtone was so serenading that it put me right back to bed. I missed my first period. Three mornings of missing my first period after being lulled back to this ringtone proved its soft, relaxing melody is also its greatest downfall. While this may be a relaxing alarm to wake up to during a vacation or a slow Sunday morning, it’s safe to count this one out if you want a productive morning.

Dancing Queen by ABBA: 7/10

One of my favorite songs of all time, I thought that waking up to ABBA would encourage me to emulate being a Dancing Queen, young and sweet, instead of a drowsy student. While the first two mornings of waking up to the energetic piano riff and subsequent choir of singers telling me that I could dance and jive, I quickly realized my favorite song was ruining itself. I started to equate the song with feelings of dread and drowsiness. It’s safe to say that waking up to your favorite song, while nice for a day or two, can quickly ruin it.

The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?) by Ylvis: 8/10

Recognizing that I liked to wake up to music, but didn’t want any of my favorite songs to be ruined, I decided to try a new technique: I woke up to one of my least favorite songs for the next three mornings. “What Does the Fox Say?” is arguably one of the greatest plagues to the music industry, despite its coming out ten years ago. I was equally resentful of it all three mornings of its testing, however it motivated me out of bed, and I wasn’t tempted to hit snooze out of fear I would have to hear it again. In all, waking up to your least favorite song is a motivating factor to get out of bed, and also doesn’t ruin your favorite tune.

Student Picks

If my taste in alarms doesn’t suit yours, here are a couple of suggestions from students.

Senior Sadie Scherer said, “I wake up to Apple’s ‘Sprinkles’ ringtone. It reminds me of seaside chimes, and it makes it easy to wake up, however it isn’t annoying or daunting.”

Senior Palmer Assunto prefers a more automated wake-up. He said, “I wake up to the ‘Horn’ ringtone by Apple. I like cars a lot, so waking up to the cathartic sound of a revving engine gets me up in a pleasant way”

Junior Faith T’eo said, “I used to wake up to my favorite song, ‘Ripple’ by the Grateful Dead, however, the song was quickly ruined for me, so now I wake up to the default alarm on my iPhone.”

Kate is a senior at M-A. She enjoys talking to people and hopes to write stories in which she can represent multiple groups and perspectives around campus. In her free time, she likes to read, play volleyball, run track, and spend time with friends.

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