Can sound play an important part in your mornings?


Mornings can be difficult at the best of times, but right now winter is coming. Generally in Glasgow, this means that daylight appears for about 7 hours a day - to illuminate the rain - then disappears just after lunch.

There are some sure-fire ways to get going in the morning – coffee, a freezing cold shower or standing on an upturned electrical plug are old favourites – but can sound play a part in an invigorating morning? Now, before we go any further, we should acknowledge that we’ve previously written about the productive and motivational qualities of some audio; but – like a toolbox you carry in your ears – there’s no reason why you can’t use sound to perform an array of vital functions throughout your day.

Change up your alarm clock

Obvious fact: sound is very important to sleep and regeneration. You’ll have a bad sleep if you fall asleep near noise. Obviously you’ll have trouble staying asleep if the local highway, or your neighbour’s damn dog have anything to say about it. As for waking up properly (i.e. when you’re actually supposed to), Actual Scientists have studied the different affects that sound in the morning can have. As with all sound, this is very subjective and your mileage may vary BUT a study showed that the aggressive BEEP BEEP BEEP of your Acme-issue red alarm clock might actually result in your feeling groggier when you wake than, say, some gentle melodies from your Spotify Relax Jams playlist.

Sleeping Without Sleeping

It might seem counter-intuitive that the gentler option is the better one, but that might be because you think sleep ends the moment you wake. It doesn’t. ‘Sleep inertia’ is the term that describes the tendrils of sleep that grasp at you as you climb out of bed and start trying to function as a human being. It’s like a hangover that even responsible people get. To simplify this to an extent that would shock most scientists: Your brain ‘prefers’ the gentler option of a nice melody; it’s like gently slipping into a swimming pool rather than, say, shocking and confusing your brain awake by leaping head-first into an ice bath. Your brain doesn’t like the ice bath. It resents the ice bath. So the period of ‘sleep inertia’ tends to shorten if your waking experience has been a pleasant one. While this might not make much of a difference if the first hour of your day is spent doomscrolling on Twitter or pretending that muesli is pleasant, it is important if you’re, say, a surgeon on call, or driving to work, or using a chisel right next to your thumb. In those cases, it’s pretty important that you’re fully alert as soon as possible.

What You Should Listen To

The study we’ve quoted here recommended The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations, The Cure’s Close To Me as ideal wake-up tunes; upbeat and energetic without, say, the volume and pace of Killing In The Name. However, as with everything, there’s no accounting for taste. If you don’t normally like the gentle melodies of Zero Seven (you’re wrong), then it’s unlikely you’re going to enjoy it any more at 6AM with bags under your eyes and a cat on your face. Maybe Royal Blood is your morning jam. Who are we to judge?

Obviously, relaxing music in the morning should be taken as part of a healthy and balanced routine; coffee if you have it, sunlight if you can get it (☹) and a nice breakfast. Or just ignore this and use the ice bath. Let us know how that goes.

Back to top