While many studies note that relaxing music creates a better, more sound sleep, multiple studies now show that any type of music that is paired with a relaxation exercise can improve sleep hygiene and quality. Discover how to use music and what choices are best to get a better night's rest.
How Music Impacts Sleep
Music can have a profound impact on sleep. From creating a relaxing atmosphere to impacting neurotransmitters, music can be an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to getting a solid night of sleep.
Binaural beats work by sending two tones of different frequencies to each ear using headphones. A study was conducted on athletes who listened to binaural beats while they slept for eight weeks. After the eight weeks, they reported improved sleep quality as well as daytime functioning. This study suggests that this meditative music can potentially have significant long-term benefits as well.
Studies have linked listening to chanting music with a reduction in anxiety. Reducing anxiety is shown to improve sleep quality overall. In a study of 199 participants, those that listened to 10 minutes of chanting music showed a significant reduction in their anxiety levels prior to having an endoscopy. Another study also illustrated that those with sports related anxiety showed a sharp reduction in symptoms after listening to chanting music for 40 minutes twice a week for a total of eight weeks.
Classical music has long been revered as the go-to for inducing sleep. In a study of students who reported having difficulty sleeping, two different control groups were studied. In one, students listened to 45 minutes of classical music; the other group listened to 45 minutes of an audiobook. Those who listened to the classical music reported a statistically significant improvement in sleep as well as a reduction of depressive symptoms. This study noted that classical music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate, and also slow down breathing. These are all key factors when it comes to getting a good night of sleep.
American and Chinese Relaxing Music
In a study of adults ages 60 to 83 years old, participants were given the option to listen to 45 minutes of relaxing American or Chinese music. Over a three-week period, participants reported better sleep quality, less sleep disturbance, and sleeping for a longer period of time. The results were cumulative and continued improving over the three-week period, suggesting that sleep habits and quality can be tweaked for the better if a consistent routine is set up.
Your Choice of Music Paired with Relaxation Exercise
A study conducted at two domestic violence shelters looked at the impact music paired with progressive muscle relaxation has on those who reported not getting good, restorative sleeps. They found that regardless of the music selected, as long as it was paired with progressive muscle relaxation, the participants reported getting better slumbers and showed a reduction in anxiety symptoms.
According to Forbes, the song Weightless by Marconi Union has been dubbed the most relaxing song in the world. Neuroscientists from Mindlab International conducted a study with the song and found it reduced anxiety in its subjects by 65 percent. Sound therapists explain that part of the reason it is so soothing is that it uses sustained rhythms that gradually go from 60 to 50 beats per minute.
How Music Impacts the Brain
Music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that causes a pleasurable feeling when released. This can lead to positive feelings, relaxation, and overall contentness which can result in a better night of sleep.
There are tons of free and subscription services to choose from when it comes to great music playlists. While subscription services allow you more freedom in creating a relaxing playlist, free services offer great pre-made soothing sound and decompression playlists. Along with classical music, music with binaural beats, and music with chants, you'll find other music styles likely to assist with sleep, such as instrumentals and nature sounds.
Youtube offers a huge selection of free relaxation playlists and ambient sounds. Some of their most popular include:
- Soothing relaxation offers three hours of music composed by Peder Helland.
- Meditative Mind plays beautiful flute music for about an hour before the video ends.
- Meditative Mind also offers an eight-hour long selection of repetitive Om chanting with music designed for sleep.
- Cafe Music BGM Channel plays live jazz music with rain in the background for about four hours at a time.
- French Cafe 24/7 plays the best of Starbucks relaxing music playlist for about three hours.
- Body Mind Zone has an eight hour insomnia playlist that plays very soothing music.
- Just Instrumental Music plays three hours of classical music which includes the composers Mozart, Bach, Chopin, and Beethoven.
You can use Spotify for free, but there will be ads, otherwise you can pay around 10 dollars a month to enjoy it ad free. With Spotify you can create your own playlist, or listen to a pre-made one. Some meditative playlists include:
- The sleep playlist plays relaxing piano music with ambient sounds in the background.
- The nightstorm playlist plays rain sounds, thunder storms and waterfall sounds.
- Bedtime binaural beats offers 28 relaxing songs.
- Calming acoustic plays various relaxing acoustic music.
The Power of Music
Research repeatedly notes that music can create positive physical and mental effects on individuals. Experiment with different playlists and music to see which ones help you fall asleep and get the best sleep possible.