Apple’s ‘By the Seaside’ Might Be the Worst, But It Could Be The Solution to Groggy Mornings

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By the Seaside Apple Alarm

Imagine this: You’re peacefully dozing in the early morning, drifting in and out of deeper sleep. Maybe you’re dreaming here and there. Then, all of a sudden, your phone wakes you up with what is supposed to be a bouncy, happy alarm. The first few times you wake up to this alarm, you might not be bothered by it, but after days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, you will begin to dread your alarm tone of choice. 

I’m talking about the much-maligned Apple ringtone, “By the Seaside.” I was once a “By the Seaside” user myself; it was my go-to Apple alarm tone all throughout college. At first, I loved being woken up by that fun little song in the mornings, but that love quickly turned to hate. By the time I was graduating, the alarm tone would fill me with rage. Even if I heard someone else play the alarm randomly throughout the day, I would find myself tensing up. 

On June 23, CNN interviewed fellow haters of “By the Seaside,” each with a similar story to my own. The alarm seemed like a good idea at first, but it quickly became a much-dreaded part of the morning. 

In the world of Hatch alarms and gentle-wake up methods, a jarring, upsetting alarm just doesn’t seem to cut it these days. Read on to learn about why your alarm tone matters and some gentler alternatives to “By the Seaside.” 

Reactions to “By the Seaside”

Needless to say, “By the Seaside” has been meme’d to death. TikToker @rh1013_ph captioned a video of DJ Khaled dancing with, “When your dad’s alarm goes off and this banger comes on” and a fire emoji. It goes without saying that the song playing over the TikTok is “By the Seaside.” Reddit user u/notkhaos uploaded a meme comparing Android alarm tones to a cute cartoon and Apple alarm tones to a much less cute demon: the meme is titled “Nice and Calm vs. PURE PAIN”. 

Back in 2023, @FakeShowbizNews, a parody account on X, posted that Adele “reveal[ed] that she has earned more from the iPhone ringtone she wrote — “By the Seaside” — than the rest of her tracks put together.” While this isn’t true, it’s still funny to think that one of the best songstresses out there composed such a goofy alarm tone. 

Is “By the Seaside” a Bad Alarm? 

As it turns out, “By the Seaside” is actually not the worst choice for an alarm. According to a 2020 study from Australia, melodic alarms are actually much better than harsher, more traditional alarm tones. The study found that the more melodic the alarm, there is a reduction in perceived sleep inertia symptoms. (1)

According to Sleepopolis’s Dr. Shelby Harris, traditional alarm clocks aren’t all they’re cracked up to be: “The problem with traditional loud alarm clocks is that they trigger your stress response, increase adrenaline levels, and essentially shock you into waking up. This forced awakening can increase sleep inertia and lead to high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate.”

For those who are unfamiliar, sleep inertia is the transitional period between being asleep and waking up. Most people will experience unique sleep inertia symptoms, but it can manifest itself as grogginess or sleepiness, poor short term memory, impaired cognition, and more. 

While “By the Seaside” is grating it could be useful for transitioning your body into a waking state after waking up. So maybe we hate “By the Seaside” because it’s just too good at waking us up. 

Pleasant Apple Ringtone Alternatives

If you use “By the Seaside” and are looking to switch, I’ve perused Apple’s catalog of free alarm tones that are still melodic, but perhaps have a bit of a different vibe than “By the Seaside.” Feel free to enjoy these alarm tones until they ultimately start to menace you just as “By the Seaside” did. 

  • Chimes
  • Night Owl
  • Radiate
  • Sencha
  • Silk
  • Stargaze
  • Uplift
  • Waves

If you prefer waking up to music in the mornings, then the authors of the study suggest using these two songs: “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys and “Close to Me” by The Cure as options that might help you transition to being awake after a good night’s sleep. (1)

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  1. McFarlane, Stuart, J., Garcia, Jair, E., Verhagen, Darrin, S. Alarm tones, music and their elements: analysis of reported waking sounds to counteract sleep inertia. PLOS. 2020. DOI:
Mary-Elisabeth Combs

Mary-Elisabeth Combs

Mary-Elisabeth Combs is a Staff Writer at Sleepopolis covering all things Sleep news. Previously Mary was a writer for CNET, and she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in English. When she's not writing, she's probably knitting, reading or catching up on Formula 1. 

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