Can Music Help you Sleep?
Many people wonder if music aids or detracts from healthy sleep. Music and sleep have been intertwined as far back as 2000 B.C. Lullabies are commonplace in almost everyone’s early years, dating back to the ancient civilization of Babylon where the first recorded instances of tunes to lull babies to sleep are found.
Returning to the modern age, it’s no wonder that the practice of listening to music at bedtime finds itself upheld by adults who have long outgrown the crib. Music is commonly used as a technique to help anxiety but does it really help you fall and stay asleep?
The short answer is yes. There are a number of studies that suggest significant increases in sleep quality when listening to relaxing music. In a meta-analysis of 10 different sleep studies, results supported the case for music intervention as a reliable sleep-therapy option. The results, however, are not always so black and white. One survey questioned 651 Americans on sleep habits, their music preferences and whether they used music for sleep aid. Of those questioned, 62% claimed that they used music to fall asleep although a large variety of music genres were reported. Interestingly, this suggests that although one would expect music such as classical pieces to be most effective in relaxing the mind, a subject’s preferred genre can prove to be just as useful.
But can music help you stay asleep? The right kind of music does not harm sleep and may help in unanticipated ways. In a study concerning young adults with short sleep latency, sedative music was played for the first hour they were in bed at a sleep lab. What researchers found was that, while the music did not necessarily help them fall asleep faster, it did increase deep sleep stages, suggesting a statistically higher sleep quality with the use of music.
In reviewing the research regarding music as sleep therapy, the idea of classical music comes up regularly. Classical seems to be the universal go-to for relaxing music. Tempo, or the speed at which the beat is played, is a major influence on the relaxing qualities of music and the classical genre seems to have a large catalogue of options with a consistently lower tempo that approximates the beating heart heard in the womb. It stands to reason that loud music with erratic beats and tempo are not likely conducive to natural relaxation and sleep.
It is important not to adopt a one size fits all mindset regarding music therapy and use. Sleep disorders can be helped with the right musical intervention, yet what some would consider an aid, others might consider a disturbance. It is important to acknowledge what works for the individual with something as variable as sleep and music preference. Just like Zenbev, music is natural and when used in the right way provides natural help for getting you off to peaceful, restful, deep sleep.