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Does music help reduce sleep insomnia?
Well, on a website that reviews sleep sound machines, you would hope that music helps to reduce sleep insomnia! So let’s take a look at the evidence and find out if we can, how and why music helps us to sleep better.
We all know that many people suffer from a lack of sleep, whether they can’t fall asleep without difficulty or they keep waking up during the night. Both of these are very debilitating conditions, resulting in poor health, increased accidents and more illnesses ad sick leave.
Many people resort to medications to help fix their sleep insomnia (provided by their health professionals), others turn to cognitive behavior therapy, exercise, meditation and other natural therapies.
Music is one of these natural therapies that doesn’t have any side effects, doesn’t really cost much money and seems to work well for lots of people who have problems sleeping.
What does the research say about music helping with sleep insomnia?
A study in 2015 at the Center for Music in the Brain at the Department of Psychology in Aarhus University, Denmark, found that music does indeed help people sleep better. They didn’t actually perform a trial themselves as such, instead they reviewed the scientific literature on the topic and found compelling evidence to support their hypothesis.
There are a number of scientific studies into brainwave optimization, which uses a series of audible musical tones with specific pitch and timing (made by mathematical algorithms), to cause a resonance between the frequencies in the brain and the musical tones. What all this means is that certain frequencies of music create a feedback loop in our brain, resulting in a reduction of sleep insomnia.
Brainwave optimization is also known as HIRREM (high-resolution, relational, resonance-based electroencephalic mirroring) and you can watch neurologist Dr. Charles Tegeler, Professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine, discuss his research using HIRREM in the video below:
Research has also demonstrated that music therapy for 45 minutes prior to bedtime can increase REM sleep in adults suffering from chronic insomnia. A study has also shown that music therapy prior to bedtime helps to reduce anxiety and depression, and increase the quality of sleep in people living with schizophrenia.
As you can see, there is quite a lot of research into the effects of music on reducing insomnia and improving people’s quality of sleep and without a doubt, the evidence stacks up.
What type of music is best to reduce sleep insomnia?
The best type of music to reduce sleep insomnia has around 50 to 60 beats per minute (similar to the resting heartbeat), as this synchronizes your brain waves with the beat resulting in alpha waves.
Alpha waves happen when were are relaxed, and these then turn into delta waves when we fall asleep. So classical music that matches this type of slow rhythm can work really well in helping you to fall asleep and to to improve the quality of your sleep.
But what if the thought of listening to classical music puts your blood pressure up, not down? What type of music can you use to help you sleep better?
Well, the University of Nevada in Reno suggests that Native American music, Celtic music, flutes, drums and Indian stringed instrumental music are all ideal in helping you to relax, as are nature sounds, such as thunder or rain.
They also state that light jazz music, relaxation and easy listening music, and in fact any type of music that you like and relaxes you is beneficial. You will receive the best benefits if you listen to the music for at least 45 minutes before bedtime, so one or two tracks won’t cut it.
The most relaxing tune ever produced is called ‘Weightless’ by Marconi Union. Apparently they used scientific theory to produce this song and it synchronizes with your heart beat, starting at 60 beats per minute, slowing down to 50 beats per minute.
The tune lasts for 8 minutes, because it takes a full 5 minutes for this this synchronization to occur. You can listen to ‘Weightless’ below: