Modern Lullaby: Can Music Help you Sleep?

July 21, 2020

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 these songs to lull babes to sleep are found. Returning our focus to the modern age, most humans can relate to the sensation of being cradled to sleep accompanied by a soothing song, so 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?


Can Music Help with Falling Asleep?

The short answer is yes. There are a number of studies that suggest acute 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. However, the results 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. 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.


Can Music Help with Staying 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. With depression and anxiety on the rise, it is good to know that something simple and readily available can be effective to provide natural anxiety help and possibly improve sleep quality.


Music Genres

In reviewing the research regarding music as sleep therapy, the idea of classical music comes up regularly. Classical seems to be the universal mascot for relaxing music. Tempo is a major influence on the relaxing qualities of music and the classical genre seems to have a large cast of entries with a consistently low tempo that approximates the beating heart heard in the womb. If one were to try applying the results of these studies, classical music should be a reliable starting point considering its tried and true reputation. It stands to reason that loud music with erratic beats and tempo are not likely conducive to natural relaxation and sleep.


Music and Depression

It is important not to adopt a one size fits all mindset regarding music therapy and use. Sleep disorders can be helped with musical intervention, yet what some might 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. That being said, music has had a proven impact on depression levels in the elderly, with a portion of the effects correlating with improved sleep. Just like Zenbev, music is natural and when used in the right way provides natural help for anxiety and sleep.


Music has proven worthy as a natural sleep aid in all walks of life, all ages and a variety of those affected with sleep issues. It appears the right kind of music at the right time is still able to lull us off to golden slumbers if we let it.