Researchers have found waking up to music can be beneficial, as jarring alarms are linked to grogginess.
The study showed a rude awakening from loud, repetitive alarm tones could cause sleep inertia (morning grogginess), a condition leaving people feeling half asleep.
Lead author Stuart McFarlane said sleep inertia was a serious problem in today's 24-hour society.
“If you don't wake properly, your work performance can be degraded for periods up to four hours and that has been linked to major accidents,” Mr McFarlane said.
“This is particularly important for people who might work in dangerous situations shortly after waking, like firefighters or pilots.”
The researchers suggested a startling alarm would improve alertness, but found melodic alarms had a better effect on waking.
More research will be needed to find the exact melody and rhythm which works best, which could impact on millions of lives.
Study co-author Adrian Dyer said the harsh beeping of an alarm may trigger sleep inertia by disrupting or confusing brain activity as we wake.
“Whereas a more melodic sound, like the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations or the Cure's Close to Me, may help us transition to a waking state in a more effective way,” Professor Dyer said.
“Even NASA astronauts report that sleep inertia affects their performance on the International Space Station.”
The RMIT study was recently published in scientific journal PLoS ONE, to gain a better understanding of the connection between sound and waking states.