Sleeping Soundly: Does Listening to Music Help You Sleep?
Who doesn’t love a little music? From the radio tunes in the car that have you singing at the top of your lungs, to those beats that have you secretly tapping your feet in the office, there’s nothing like a little melody to boost your mood. But did you know that music can be used as a method to relax your body and mind and help you sleep, too?
That’s right: lullabies aren’t just for children. A little music might just be the all-natural sleep aid you’re missing if you find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night. And with the science in that your body needs adequate sleep for all kinds of renewal, any help is good help.
Some Music Will Help, But Not All Music is Equal
Of course, not all music will do the trick and have you heading for the deep sleep you deserve. One of our brain’s natural reflexes is to be on guard and assess any sound that can be deemed as threatening. Yup—even when we sleep, our bodies are hard at work. So how can we let our minds rest and fill the silence with just the right sounds that might help us drift off to – and stay – asleep?
The right music can boost our sleep quantity and quality, lowering our heart rates and slowing our breathing: think of it as our bodies finding our own sleep rhythm. Music also encourages the brain to produce dopamine, that feel-good chemical that may just make it easier to shake off the day’s stresses and anxieties as you head to bed.
Find a Good Volume and Keep it Consistent
The first key is to find the right volume: too quiet, and you’ll find the music to be an irritating distraction; too loud, and you won’t be able to relax and sleep. Familiar, predictable music can help tune out any distracting background noise—ideal if your bedroom happens to face a busy road. Music with a lower frequency, that’s repetitive, is perfect to help you relax, switch off, and fall to sleep—but make sure your final track fades out rather than finishing abruptly, as our brains are wired to be on guard for noise even while we sleep: a sudden silence will jolt you out of your rest.
The Best Music is Slow Music
So what music to play? Classical, jazz, and folk music are all good choices, as many tracks have a slow rhythm of 60-80 beats per minute. Not sure if your favourite tunes have the right metre? Just type in your favourite artist and the title of their song into songbpm.com and you’ll be able to check if it’s in the right range to queue on your bedtime playlist. Still not sure what music to play as you get into bed? Streaming sites such as Spotify are packed with bedtime playlists focused on mindful relaxation. In fact, in one recent survey conducted by Spotify, British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran came top as a popular choice to play before sleep.
Setting aside time for music as a relaxation technique before bed and as part of healthy sleep hygiene (no late-night email-checks, no blue light, a regular bedtime) could help re-focus your mind and help prepare you for sleep. Similar to meditation, music can help slow down the activity of the nervous system, decreasing anxiety, and lowering blood pressure. Music is good news for insomnia suffers, too, as relaxing music reduces the stress hormone noradrenaline in our system.
So, does listening to music help you sleep? It doesn’t work for everyone, of course: some people prefer the soft sound of white noise, such as rain and wind outside their window, while others need perfect peace and quiet. But if you’re looking for another way to wind down at the end of the day, and ease yourself into to an easy sleep, then kicking back with some soft tunes on your Nectar mattress may just be the hit that will have you singing of sweet sleep night after night.