By Kaitlyn Meslin
Alarms are fairly universal, but an individual’s choice of alarm tones is often personal. Waking up to whatever sound you desire has never been easier, with the rise of the personalized smartphone alarm app. Modern technology has made the wake-up dilemma incredibly simple. You’re free to choose your ideal wake-up time and the tone you think will best jerk you away from your temperature-regulated, six-foot-three, form-fitting silk body pillow. You’re even granted full ability to sync wake-up schedule with a range of compatible devices from sleep
cycle-tracking mood rings to a Facebook-connected (Cambridge Analytica-connected) smart coffee machine. Faced with the abundance of options, many people just stick to the basics. A survey of over 100 undergraduate students (from Tufts and other American universities) has shone light on participants’ alarm song/tone; reasons behind their choice to make this specific tone the sound of their alarm; and how (after experiencing this tone as their alarm sound) it makes them feel when they hear the tone in public.
Nearly a third of participants indicated that they simply use the default setting on their phone’s alarm application. Around 35% said they chose the sound because they like it, and almost 10% of participants chose their alarm tone because they disliked it. Responses varied from empowered to ironically bitter.
“It’s really embarrassing so I have to scramble to turn it off before my suitemates hear it”
“It is the loudest”; “It’s loud”
“I find it highly motivating”
“It screams I’m ready at 7:30 am”
“It’s my ex’s fave song which makes it the perfect wake-up song: obnoxious and annoying”
Overall, participants who chose to write in their own answer expressed opinions siding with a general dislike. However, when choosing from the given options, more positive opinions surfaced. These participants also expressed their alarm’s ability to wake them up in a jarring and overall effective manner.
Even though many survey participants indicated that they chose their alarm sound based on their appreciation for the tune, people are generally unsettled when hearing their alarm song outside of its assigned setting. Participants detail feeling scared, stressed, anxious, and angry. Responses highlight the visceral nature of this reaction.
“I practically jump when I hear it”
“I feel like it’s time to go”
“Dear God, run”
Other respondents indicated a neutral reaction to their alarm going off unexpectedly.
“Not much because I usually only hear the first two seconds of the song before I turn it off”
“I don’t hear it unless it’s my alarm”
In order to replicate the unique and relatable experience of taking your friend’s PSY32 study that they swore would only take two minutes, we probed participants for their miscellaneous thoughts on the subject of alarms.
“There’s this one girl two rooms over whose alarm goes off for HALF AN HOUR every morning and wakes up everyone but her and she sucks”
“I once used the super mario bros theme song as my alarm throughout middle school now I hate alarms”
Participant #68 offers a relatable take.
“They all suck. Sleeping is good.*”
*Young adults between the ages of 18-25 are recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.