Sleep is important in maintaining physical and mental health and for general well-being. However, sleep disturbances are highly common in our society, with increased prevalence in aging and among people at risk of a psychiatric disorder. Sleep-enhancing medicine is problematic as its effectiveness decreases over time and may lead to addiction. Consequently, researchers have been looking to other more natural solutions to help people sleep through the night.
Tuesday, July 19th
Listening to music is a widely used tool to improve sleep. In an online survey of a general population, 62% stated to have at least once used music to help them sleep. In a survey of over 500 patients with sleep disorders, over 50% reported using music as a sleep aid.
An expert group of scientists from the University of Zurich in Switzerland suggests that music consistently improves subjective sleep quality, whereas results for objective sleep parameters diverge.
These inconsistencies might be due to inter-individual differences. In the study, 27 female subjects listened to either music or a control text before a 90 minutes nap in a within-subjects design. Reports showed that music improved subjective sleep quality compared to the text condition.
In addition, music significantly increased the amount of slow-wave sleep (SWS) and the low/high-frequency power ratio. However, these effects occurred only in participants with a low suggestibility index.
As a result, experts concluded that listening to music before a nap can improve some participants’ subjective and objective sleep parameters.
In short, the study tested if listening to relaxing music before a nap helps improve subjective and objective sleep quality of a nap in young, healthy females, demonstrating a generally improving effect of listening to music on subjectively rated sleep quality.
In other words, subjects reported better sleep quality after listening to music; this is in line with previous studies showing the beneficial effects of music on sleep ratings. While subjective sleep is highly relevant for experienced wellbeing and the diagnosis of insomnia, it does not necessarily correspond to objective sleep measures.
To what extent this is applicable to sleep disturbances cannot yet be answered.
If you are interesting in reading the complete scientific study, click here