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Can Music Help You Sleep?

by | Sep 26, 2022

Not everyone prefers to sleep in quiet solitude. Some people prefer to drift off with mild noise in the background. More people, in fact, are sleeping with the radio on or their favorite song tracks playing on loop.

Parents put their babies to sleep by singing a lullaby or playing a soothing melody. What does science say, if anything, about music and sleep? Is there a connection that’s worth a deeper dive?

Scientific Studies

What does the research say? A 2005 study found that listening to music before bedtime improved sleep quality. Moreover, the effects were apparent within the first night.

Another study in 2008 found that music helped improve sleep in students who reported difficulty sleeping. Students who listened to music saw a significant increase in sleep quality over two control groups that listened to an audiobook or listened to nothing.

How does music assist you in falling asleep? Music has long been known to have a soothing physical and psychological effect on the body. It helps you:

  • Lower anxiety and stress
  • Promotes the production of the sleep hormone oxytocin
  • Reduces cortisol, the stress hormone that causes inflammation and makes it more difficult to sleep

The Best Music for Sleep

Do you listen to classical or soothing music when working out? Not likely. You listen to music with a faster tempo (beats per minute), which energizes you. For the same reason, you want to listen to music with a slower tempo when you sleep.

Slower-tempo music generates alpha brain waves, the state that induces relaxation and a sense of calm. Here are some suggestions for selecting a play track for your bedtime listening.

5 Tips for Creating Your Sleep Playlist

Stick to Instrumentals

Stick to music that’s purely instrumental and void of singing. If you listen to a song with a singer, your brain will naturally try to follow along with the lyrics, which can become a distraction. If you want, you can play the instrumental version of your favorite songs.

Avoid Songs with Sentimental Attachment

Avoid any music that has sentimental value. In other words, you should avoid the song that was played at your wedding or graduation ceremony. Even if they evoke positive memories, it keeps the brain active and out of the desired relaxed state.

Create a 60 to 90-Minute Playlist

Create your own custom playlist that’s one hour to 90-minutes. There’s no need for the song list to still be playing when you wake up halfway through the night. That’s a waste of battery power on your device.

Consider Music with Nature Sounds

Some people report sleeping better with white noise in the background, such as the hum of a fan or AC. Nature sounds like the tap of rainwater or the splashing of ocean waves have the same effect. There is instrumental music that incorporates the sounds of nature from areas like beaches and rainforests.

Experiment with Different Headphones

Headphones usually aren’t an issue if you sleep on your back with your head straight. However, they can get in the way for stomach and side sleepers. Earphones aren’t that much better as they may feel uncomfortable after wear for an extended period. If you need to use headphones, we recommend smaller ones that don’t get too much in the way if you press the side of your head against the pillow.

See also: Why Do You Need a Good Night’s Sleep?

Prioritize a Good Night’s Sleep

We can’t stress the importance of consistently getting good quality sleep for your overall health. If you’re not sleeping well for any reason, get assistance from a sleep specialist in Lafayette, LA. Music is one way that may help some people sleep, but for others, professional help may be in order. If you believe you fall into the latter, take our 1-minute sleep assessment and contact SleepWell Louisiana for a consultation.