Music as a Sleeping Aid

In our lives, the current global pandemic has created a lot of unprecedented uncertainty leading to many disruptions, transformations and eventually affected our delicate sleep routines. According to the Times of India report, ‘Insomnia’ and ‘can’t sleep’ are the most searched terms on Google in the year 2020 (TOI, 2020).


Psychologists evidenced that the combination of beautiful vocal and instrumental sounds make every individual heal physically and mentally. It is documented that music therapy immediately eases anxiety, alleviates stress, depression, anger and induces sleep as well (Cevasco A M, 2005).


Music, truthfully can it make you fall asleep?


Lullabies are the best proven, well-known examples. Pieces of evidence support that lullabies and soothing rhythms make premature infants and preschool children sleep faster than usual (Loewy J, 2013). Fortunately, not only for children but also for people in all age groups, listening to gentle music for 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime assists in increasing the quantity as well as the quality of sleep (Lai H. L, 2005).


If you spend more than 15 to 20 minutes tossing and turning in your bed, then you should definitely work on your sleep hygiene. In one research, a group of women with insomnia were selected and studied. The participants played an album of their own choice before bed for ten consecutive nights. The results proved that the time taken to fall asleep were notably reduced from 27 – 69 minutes to 6 – 13 minutes (Johnson J. E, 2003). This strategy can also be applied to those who do not suffer from any sleep disorders as well. Besides, listening to music before bed improves sleep efficiency, which results in less waking up during the sleeping hours and more consistent rest.


How does sleep is affected by music?


When the brain interprets the electrical signals of sounds, a surge of physical changes is triggered inside the body. It eventually relaxes the body and reduces the stress hormone called cortisol which elevates the alertness and leads to poor sleep (Koelsch S, 2011). It provokes the release of dopamine, a hormone synthesized during pleasurable situations. This reduces pain and boosts positive feelings during bedtime. Listening to music also soothes the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system, which is the human body’s natural system for regulating involuntary and unconscious processes leading to calm breathing, normalize heartbeat rate and reduces blood pressure (Low P, 2020). Overall, this induces an excellent sleep.

What kind of music is appropriate for inducing sleep?


It’s sometimes dreadful to choose a hard rock or drum and bass music with a high tempo to make you sleep faster, instead of choosing some soothing sedative music with low tempo wisely helps you a lot. Sometimes, natural sounds like mild tunes of rain, breeze and flute, stringed instruments like melodious drums, guitar and jazz music exceedingly soft or mellow one with classic tunes. Furthermore, ‘chill-out’ music, generally known as ambient music, can be preferred because they are wordless ones primarily designed for relaxation.


Here are some nightly routine music tips:


  1. Slow beats are the best: Human brain is highly reactive to music, including its rhythm, pattern of beats and tempo. It’s highly suggested to use songs that have 60 to 80 beats per minute to push your brain into relaxation and kick start sleep mode. As these 60 beats per minute, relax the brain and synchronize with the sleep waves (alpha and delta waves) inducing sleep (Emily S, 2016).

  2. Prefer lyric-free tunes: If interested, you may also prefer lyric-free ones who easily lights up the brain to rest, as everyone has a unique taste.

  3. Keep away from emotional triggers: Listening to music gives a magical experience that impacts the individual in different ways. It is better to keep away the songs or tunes holding memories related to incidents with personal emotional attachments in life during bedtime as that makes you feel highly emotional, either sad and troublesome or super happy and excited. Successively this elevates the mood, heart rate, blood pressure, etc., and declines sleep.

Remember, music helps one speaks out the unexpressed emotions. It smashes the fear, overcomes loneliness, delights the hearer, heals the heart, soothes the mind and makes the soul fall asleep beneath the surface of the world.

References


Cevasco, A. M., Kennedy, R., & Generally, N. R. (2005). Comparison of movement-to-music, rhythm activities, and competitive games on depression, stress, anxiety, and anger of females in substance abuse rehabilitation. Journal of music therapy, 42(1), 64-80. https://academic.oup.com/jmt/article-abstract/42/1/64/928283


Emily S. (2016). Feeling the beat: Symposium explores the therapeutic effects of rhythmic music., Stanford report. https://news.stanford.edu/news/2006/may31/brainwave-053106.html


Johnson J. E. (2003). The use of music to promote sleep in older women. Journal of community health nursing, 20(1), 27–35. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327655JCHN2001_03

Koelsch, S., et al., (2011). Effects of Music Listening on Cortisol Levels and Propofol Consumption during Spinal Anesthesia. Frontiers in psychology, 2, 58. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00058


Lai, H. L., & Good, M. (2005). Music improves sleep quality in older adults. Journal of advanced nursing, 49(3), 234–244. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2004.03281.x


Loewy, J., et. Al., (2013). The effects of music therapy on vital signs, feeding, and sleep in premature infants. Paediatrics, 131(5), 902–918. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2012-1367


Low, P. (2020, April). Merck Manual Consumer Version: Overview of the Autonomic Nervous System. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders/autonomic-nervous-system-disorders/overview-of-the-autonomic-nervous-system


Times of India, 2020. Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/de-stress/insomnia-cant-sleep-most-searched-terms-on-google-in-april/photostory/76170670.cms.

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