In my mind, there have always been two types of people: those who rise at dawn, hit the gym, and enjoy coffee in peace, and night owls like me, who jolt awake at the sound of their alarm and frantically race out the door every day, breakfast in hand.
That was until I spoke with Dr. Shelby Harris, a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist in Westchester, NY, and author of The Women’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia.
“If your alarm clock makes you wake up startled, it is likely going to set the tone for a more stressed and rushed day,” she explained.
Makes sense — so, I did some digging through my Spotify playlist and figured Taylor Swift‘s “Wildest Dreams” was calming enough to ease me awake like the angelic morning person I always wished I could be.
Surprisingly, the opposite happened.
It wasn’t until 8:30 a.m. the next day that I realized how dramatic the tune actually was — especially the heavy drum beat.
Learning this was all a part of the process, Dr. Harris said. Discovering what works best for you may take trial and error; everyone is different.
“Some people find that they like to awaken to music, others like loud beeps, and others like noises like birds,” Dr. Harris added.
After a week of jumpy Taylor Swift wake-up calls and a disgruntled huffing from my roommate — who shared a room with me at the time — I decided it was time to try something new.
That’s when I discovered the “Harp” iPhone preset: a mellower option that seemed to do the trick without triggering any panic.
If you’re still struggling to wake up or the sound of your alarm is making you anxious, Dr. Harris suggested being more consistent about your nighttime and morning routines, trying to get more sleep overall, and seeking help from a medical professional.
She also recommended exploring different alarm clocks. For those who have an Amazon Echo ($100), for example, you can go beyond changing your tone and sync a smart lightbulb to your device. Once your alarm sounds, the lights gradually turn on to create a pseudo-sunrise in your bedroom.
While I still flinch at the sound of Wildest Dreams, I enjoy my harp-filled mornings slightly more than the iPhone’s default alarm tone. Now, I just need to work on falling asleep sooner.