Music has long been considered a therapeutic tool, but can it help improve your sleep, too?
Listening to music is a popular sleep aid. On the digital music streaming service Spotify, sleep playlists promise to help you doze off at night. From songs engineered to induce sleepiness to bedtime stories for adults, nighttime listening is more than one-size-fits-all.
There may be some merit to using music to lull yourself to sleep. Studies have found that participants who listen to music subjectively report better sleep.
But self-reported quality sleep doesn’t necessarily mean the sleep is better. Some researchers believe that the effect of music on sleep depends on a person’s expectations.
Still, for some, music may improve sleep. Various studies report that slow, soothing music can lower the heart rate and relax the body, reduce anxiety and stress, or simply distract from stressful thoughts that prevent sleep.
For those who stay overnight in a hospital, quality sleep is important to recovery. But routine nighttime checks and jarring sounds can interrupt sleep. According to a study of patients in an intensive care unit, listening to music during daytime rest improved sleep.
So, what type of music should you select? Some playlists feature songs with an “ideal” tempo of 60-80 beats per minute to calm you down before bed, but what works for some may not help you drift off. Researchers say that the familiarity and predictability of the music is important.
Music may or may not improve sleep, but it can increase comfort and lower anxiety that could be keeping you from sleep. When used with healthy sleep habits, music therapy may be a cost-effective way to get better sleep tonight.