Loud Morning Alarms are Terrible for Healthy Sleep
Loud alarms cause stressful reactions, like raising your blood pressure, cortisol level, and heart rate, to wake you up.
Being abruptly woken up in deep stages of sleep- which is how loud alarms work- make you feel groggy and disoriented in the mornings.
Silent alarms make waking up easier, healthier, and less disruptive. Overall, they’re much better for your health.
Most of us wake up using a phone alarm or noise alarm in the morning, but we may want to rethink how we choose to wake up every day.
It turns out that loud alarms can have negative effects on your health in a number of ways. From loud, blaring noises to waking up feeling stressed and groggy, studies show how loud noises from alarms tend to do more harm than good.
Why are loud morning alarms bad for you?
With the increasingly early, 24-hour working days, we are reliant on alarms to wake up more than ever before.
Studies show how loud alarms have negative effects on our bodies when we wake up. Scientists have found how jolting awake to the sudden shrill of an alarm can be bad for your heart. They found that exposure to noise during sleep increased stress.
Dr Chris Idzikowski of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre explains that subtle body changes that occur during sleep make us vulnerable in the early hours. Your body is very vulnerable during sleep, so an alarm that wakes up the whole body through very loud noises can put strain on your entire system. You can read more about the studies here.
In addition, a study conducted by the National Institute of Industrial Health in Japan found that participants who were suddenly forced awake had higher blood pressure and heart rate than those allowed to wake up on their own time. This could also be attributed to the stressful reactions that are physically triggered to the body reacting the loud noises during a vulnerable stage of sleep.
Loud alarms put strain on your body
During the later part of night, the body's general physiology is less regulated. This means the fluctuations in blood pressure, heart rate and breathing are more extreme than usual.
A loud alarm can raise your blood pressure very easily and trigger a “flight or fight” response from the stress. The increase in cortisol levels and stress hormones are what wake you up.
Even if you set your alarm to wake you up with peaceful music or your favorite song, it can still disrupt your rest. A sudden loud alarm triggers a sequence of physical reactions like a spike in blood pressure, increasing cortisol levels, and even adrenaline from being jolted awake.
Loud alarms don’t wake you up feeling well-rested.
We all sleep in stages or cycles. We go through five different stages of sleep including light sleep, deep sleep (during which the body restores itself and it is difficult to wake) and REM sleep when dreams mostly occur.
The problem with loud alarms is that they wake you up too suddenly. If you're woken suddenly during your 'deep' sleep stage, your ability to think clearly is badly affected, equivalent to that of being drunk. This contributes heavily to morning grogginess (or sleep inertia). According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this year, scientists found that when people were woken during deep sleep, it affected their short-term memory, cognitive abilities and even counting skills.
Although serious effects faded within the first ten minutes, some impairments were still detected up to two hours after waking. The researchers said the results could have implications for those who need to function at peak performance in sudden situations, like firefighters, doctors and emergency workers.
There might be some gradual long-term effects that might be correlated to waking up to loud mornings alarms. Circadian misalignment describes a variety of situations that could describe inappropriately timed sleep and wake cues, or general misalignment of your body’s rhythm that is throwing off its sleep patterns. Being constantly disrupted from deep stages of sleep could possibly contribute to this kind of state.
Long term health effects
Waking up to a loud alarm every morning can also lead to a build up of effects from chronic physical and mental stress. Over a longer period of time it could contribute to high blood pressure which has been shown to be associated with long-term health consequences like insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.
While using a loud alarm is convenient to wake up on time, it leads to creating a physical burden which if it persists over a long-term period of time. Exposure to loud noises can lead to chronic health symptoms attributed to stress, says Dr Mark Atkinson, a GP who specialises in treating such illnesses.
Previous studies have also linked sleep deprivation with increased risk for obesity or increased weight. Research found that insufficient sleep impacted the body’s secretion of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite.
Other studies show how sleep regulates many aspects to your metabolism, and that sleep loss is related to decreased insulin sensitivity, increased cortisol, and increased hunger and appetite. This evidence suggests some association between sleep loss and increased risk for obesity.
Your sleep impacts your long-term health in many different ways so it’s important to maintain healthy sleep behaviors for our sleep health.
The way we choose to wake up is important.
Our sleep and wake cycle is greatly influenced by our internal circadian clock.
Your circadian clock is the foundation to your sleep system. This central clock controls a variety of functions in your body that are essential to your health, including body temperature, your metabolism, hormone secretion and blood pressure.
Your circadian clock is greatly influenced by the way we wake up. That’s one reason why it’s especially important to have a consistent sleep and wake cycle, where you wake up around the same time and go to bed around the same time. This consistency supports your body’s biological rhythm, which drives things like your digestive system, your immune system, and other functions that drive your daily life.
Waking up abruptly to loud alarms can disrupt you from deep phases of sleep, which make you feel groggy and tired when you have to wake up. This can affect how you feel for the rest of the day, and create a vicious cycle of building exhaustion and losing sleep.
It can be difficult to teach your body how to wake up on its own, but the results are worth the time and effort. First, you need a consistent rhythm for your day by sleeping around the same time every night. You should also know how much sleep you need to function at your best during the day.
Luckily there are alternatives out there to make that process easier, and we don’t need to rely on a loud alarm that jolts us awake with stress. There are alarms like VibeRise that are smart, gentle, and overall built to be mindful of both your health and of others around you.