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How to feel more alert in the morning

Expert insight:

Mornings are often marked by sleep inertia, an impaired mental state that reduces alertness, says study author Stuart McFarlane, doctoral researcher at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. People typically spend about 30 minutes in this state before they feel fully awake, but it can last up to four hours.

Melodic compositions may jumpstart your alertness by focusing your brain's attention on the rise and fall of the tones, McFarlane says. Loud, monotonous beeping, on the other hand, is more likely to increase anxiety and confusion.

The bottom line:

You’ll feel more alert in the morning if you use a melodic alarm, whether it's a hand-picked song or one of the options that comes on your phone.

As long as the tune has a melody, the genre doesn't matter, McFarlane notes. (Study participants listened to tracks from The Cure and The Beach Boys.) Chances are, if you can hum, whistle, or sing along, it’s a good pick.

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