Sleep Care

Music and Sleep

Insomnia plagues millions of people each night. They toss and turn and fret about getting enough sleep only to wake up tired and fatigued. As a result, many people resort to sleep medications and relaxation techniques, but researchers have discovered that music may be the best medicine.

In fact, scientists at the University of Toronto studied the rhythmic patterns and tones that facilitate slower brain waves found in deep relaxation and meditation. They discovered that they could replicate those patterns and tones with music that matched the individual’s brainwaves. As a result, they found that participants not only experienced increased relaxation and decreased anxiety, but they also slept better.

Meanwhile, another study published in The Journal of Advanced Nursing, found that listening to soft music 45 minutes before sleeping helped elderly people sleep longer and better. Participants in the study reported a significant improvement in overall sleep quality. Not only did they sleep longer, but their sleep also was more efficient. They experienced fewer sleep disturbances and less daytime dysfunction. Additionally, their sleep improved weekly indicating that listening to music before bed could have a cumulative effect.

Music also is helpful for stressed out college students. A study of 94 students between the ages of 19 and 28 with sleep complaints found that listening to 45 minutes of classical musical at bedtime for three weeks significantly improves sleep quality. Additionally, the study showed that depressive symptoms decreased as well.

Finally, music also can help babies sleep. Many parents play classical lullabies, Mozart or sounds of waterfalls in their baby’s room to help facilitate sleep. Not only does the music relax them, but it also serves as “white noise” blocking out other sounds in the home that may disturb a baby’s sleep.

Musician Junichi Kamiyama developed an unusual product used to promote a baby’s sleep. Using a tiny microphone, he recorded numerous musical instruments as they sound in the uterus. The goal was to relax babies and make them feel like they were in the womb again so they would sleep better.

Another product, Baby Go To Sleep, offers heartbeat music therapy to calm babies enough so they can sleep. The company cites several hospital studies showing that the music is effective. For instance, in a six-week study at Helen Keller Hospital in Alabama, nearly all 59 babies in the study stopped crying or began sleeping within two minutes of the music being played.

Overall, what researchers have found is that both young and old respond positively to music as a sleep aid. In fact, studies demonstrate that music can reduce sympathetic nervous system activity, decrease anxiety, lower blood pressure, and affect heart and respiratory rate. There are even some studies demonstrating that music impacts sleep via muscle relaxation and distraction from thoughts.

So, the next time you’re having trouble nodding off. Turn on some classical music and lose yourself in the melodies. You just may find that it is one of the most inexpensive and effective sleep aids on the market.

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