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Help me put together a Metal playlist for people suffering from sleep inertia!

heavy metal for sleep inertia Jan 25, 2022

Do you struggle to wake up properly in the morning?

Do you often feel like you’re not completely yourself yet and that you can’t fully engage with the world or function properly at work or school first thing in the morning? You might suffer from sleep inertia.

If you caught my talk on sleep inertia on Metal Therapy, you’ll already know what this is all about. Feel free to skip to the final paragraph of this article for a reminder of the criteria we need for our playlist.

Sleep inertia refers to the state of grogginess that most people tend to experience on first waking up. When this transition runs smoothly it should take you no more than between 15-30 minutes to be fully awake, alert, and ready to face the day, including any complicated tasks you may need to carry out.

Unfortunately, for many of us this is not the case, and some people can experience the effects of sleep inertia for up to four hours after waking. That’s right – four hours!

The symptoms include not only the general grogginess that most people experience, but a whole list of real cognitive impairment that means that sufferers can remain in a prolonged disoriented state, caused by reduced sensory acuity, reaction times, and a general drop in their ability to concentrate. Sleep inertia can even affect people’s vision, their motor functions, and spatial memory. If you suffer from sleep inertia, you know exactly what I’m referring to. If you don’t, try to imagine, if you can, waking from sedation, or having been drugged, just somehow the effects don’t seem to wear off for several hours, and not matter what you do, you can’t quite seem to come to.

There is no doubt that sleep inertia is a real problem for people who experience the extremes of up to four hours of cognitive impairment after waking, but even those who are lucky enough to able to overcome sleep inertia within half an hour of waking, might benefit from waking up more fully alert. Think of those on emergency call, astronauts, those living and working on an oil rigs, or anybody else who needs to be alert quickly after waking up.

Whilst we know that prior sleep deprivation can increase the likelihood of sleep inertia, we also know that getting rid of it is not as simple as just making sure you get enough sleep. From what we do know, sleep inertia seems to be linked to our sleep phases, during which phase we wake up, and most of all, how abruptly we wake.

And this is where it gets exciting: a study carried out by RMIT University in 2020* suggests that harsh alarm sounds actually make this initial morning grogginess worse, whereas music really helped their participants overcome sleep inertia. The two songs this study looked at in particular were “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys and “Close to me” by The Cure.

The study found that the songs need to be upbeat, melodic, and include a rise and fall in the song’s melody. Other songs that fall into this category are, for example, “Take on Me” by A-Ha, “Hold the Line” by Toto, or “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club, you get the idea, right? But hey, I talked about this on one of my episodes of Metal Therapy, so how does Boy George fit into this? Well, this is where you all come in: here's your chance to help me put together a Metal playlist to combat sleep inertia! I’ve already given you a Metal example of a song that fits into this category on my show - “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio. Some of you have already submitted examples to me via email, but we now need to put together a playlist that contains a minimum of 10-15 songs, so please keep your suggestions coming! You can email me, or submit your entries in the comments below, if this platform allows comments (keep in mind that this article is published in several different places, not all of which allow commenting.) And if you can’t think of any examples yourself, simply share this request far and wide, and make sure to keep checking in for updates. I’ll let you know, of course, when our playlist is ready and where to download it. In the meantime, keep on rocking, and make sure you tune in to Metal Therapy!

UPDATE: Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to our playlist, which you can now listen to here: https://www.mixcloud.com/BurwellRadio/the-metal-therapy-play-list-to-combat-sleep-inertia/

*Alarm tones, music and their elements: Analysis of reported waking sounds to counteract sleep inertia by Dr Jair Garcia (School of Media and Communication) and Dr Darrin Verhagen (School of Design) published in PLoS ONE (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0215788)





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