Sleep Music Explained

Young woman relaxing with headphones at home

Music is a compelling and moving art form.

While it’s widely more recognized for getting people to dance, it can also help you improve your sleep hygiene as well as help you fall asleep faster, eventually leading you to feel more rested.

Music can improve your sleep hygiene by allowing you to feel at ease and relaxed.

It’s a lot easier with portable speakers and streaming applications than ever before to take full advantage of music’s power wherever you go. Given music’s potential sleep benefits and accessibility, it might just be the perfect time to incorporate it into your bedtime routine. 

Can Music Help With Sleep?

Parents worldwide know from experience that gentle rhythms and lullabies can help infants fall asleep.

This is a common observation that science supports and shows that kids of whatever age, from elementary school kids to premature infants, sleep way better after they’ve listened to soothing tunes and melodies.

Fortunately, kids are not the only ones that can benefit from gentle melodies and lullabies before bedtime. Folks of all ages have better sleep hygiene when they listen to calming music before bed. 

In one particular research study, people who played about 45-minutes of music before they went to sleep reported sleeping better from the very first night they started listening to music before bed.

Furthermore, what’s even way more encouraging is that this benefit has a cumulative effect. The more they listened to music before bed, study participants reported better and better sleep as they continued with this. 

Music can also help decrease the time it’ll take for you to fall asleep. There was a study done on women that had insomnia. Participants listened to a self-selected album before they went to bed, and they did this for ten consecutive nights.

Before these participants incorporated music into their nightly routine, it took them an average of 28 – 70 minutes to fall asleep. When they added music to their bedtime routine, they only took around 7-14 minutes to sleep.

In addition to improving your sleep quality and helping you fall asleep quicker, playing some music before you go to bed will help improve your sleep efficiency as well. Meaning you’ll spend more time sleeping when you’re in bed.

Improved sleep efficiency will lead to less waking up at night and more consistent rest. 

Why Does It Affect Sleep?

sleeping

You being able to hear music all depends on how well your ears can convert sound waves into electrical signals.

As your brain interprets these sound waves coming in through the ears, a barrage of physical effects gets triggered in your body. Most of these effects directly reduce the complications that interfere with your sleep or promote sleep.

Several research studies have shown that music helps make sleep better because of how good it is at regulating hormones, including cortisol (the stress hormone).

Having high cortisol levels and being stressed can lead to poor sleep and increased alertness. Music can help reduce your cortisol levels, which is why it can release stress and help put people at ease. 

Also, music can help release dopamine, a hormone the body releases during pleasurable activities such as sex, exercise, and eating. This hormone’s release can help address pain, which is a very common cause of sleep complications, and boost good feelings right before bed. Psychological and physical responses to music can reduce both chronic and acute physical pain. 

Sleep music also helps soothe the autonomic nervous system, which, in turn, helps contribute to relaxation. The body’s autonomic nervous system is what the body itself naturally uses to control unconscious or automatic processes, including those in the digestive system, lungs, and heart.

Music can help improve your sleep quality by calming parts of the body’s autonomic nervous system, leading to reduced blood pressure, lower heart rate, and slower breathing. 

People that have lousy sleep quality associate where they sleep with sleepless nights and frustration. Music can help counteract all this. It will distract you from the troubling and anxious thoughts you might have and encourages both the mental and physical relaxation you’ll need to fall asleep.

Whether they’re from noisy neighbors, airplanes, or roads, night-time noises can decrease your sleep efficiency and are also linked to many adverse health consequences. Music can help drown these environmental noises out, in turn, helping increase sleep efficiency. 

What’s The Best Sleep Music?

girl falls asleep on piano

What kind of music is ideal for sleep? You’re probably wondering that no?

Researchers have looked at several diverse music playlists and genres, and there is no clear consensus among them about the best sleep music. However, most research studies either use playlists that have been specifically designed for sleep or one that was self-curated.

One of the most critical ways music affects your body is your musical preferences. An influential custom music playlist can include songs that you’ve used to relax before or ones that have helped you sleep in the past. 

When creating a sleep music playlist, you’ll need to consider music tempo strongly. The speed, or tempo, at which songs are played is typically measured in BPM (beats per minute). Most research studies pick music around 55-75 beats per minute.

A standard resting heart rate ranges from between 60-100 beats per minute. That’s why it’s good to play music that has a BPM within that range. It’s believed that your body will sync up with the slower music. 

You can use online music services that have pre-packaged music playlists for specific activities for those who aren’t interested in creating your sleep music playlist. You can curate helpful playlists for both relaxation and sleep. Your best bet might be to get playlists that concentrate on calming music genres, like piano and classical pieces.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different playlists, songs, and music genres until you come across one that best suits you. You might also want to consider trying out a couple of playlists and genres during the day so you can find what helps relax you the most. 

While most people will be better off finding something pre-mixed or making their music playlists, others might need a more formal approach to succeed. A certified music therapist is a professional who’s been trained to use music to help improve mental and physical health.

Music therapists can assess your individual needs and then come up with treatment plans that will involve both creating and listening to music. 

People are growing more and more interested in the effects music has on the mind, body, and soul. Several major research groups have dedicated all their time and resources to uncover all the new ways sleep music can benefit your health. 

How To Incorporate Sleep Music Into Your Bedtime Routine

Music can help you get a healthy sleep routine. Here are a couple of tips you can use to help you incorporate sleep music into your sleep-promoting routine;

  • Make listening to sleep music a habit: Having a routine can be fantastic for sleep. Come up with evening rituals that’ll give your body enough time to wind down. Incorporate music that’s consistent and calming. 
  • Find enjoyable music: If pre-packaged playlists aren’t working for you, try creating a mix that you’ll enjoy before you go to sleep. While most folks will benefit from music that has a slow tempo, other people might find upbeat music more relaxing. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find out what works best for you. 
  • DON’T PLAY MUSIC THAT INCITES STRONG EMOTIONAL REACTIONS – We’ve all got those songs that can cause strong emotional reactions. Listening to such songs while you try to fall asleep might not be the best idea. Use music that’s positive and neutral. 
  • Be careful with headphones: Earbuds and headphones can potentially cause ear damage if you aren’t careful with them and sleep with them when the volume is high. Sleeping with headphones can also cause earwax buildup, which, in turn, can help increase of getting an ear infection. Instead, why not try using a small speaker or stereo somewhere near the bed. Picking speakers that don’t have bright lights can negatively affect your sleep quality, and find a volume setting that’s soothing and not disruptive. 

Benefits of Sleep Music 

sleeping music benefits

Here are a few reasons why you should use music for sleep;

Triggers Feel Good Chemicals When you listen to songs that you enjoy, your body will produce serotonin, which is that ‘feel good’ chemical found in the brain. Depressed people don’t make enough serotonin.

So if you want to get some happiness into your life, find ways you can naturally boost your serotonin levels. It’s way easier to both fall and stay asleep when you’ve managed to get yourself in a good, happy mood.

Try listening to your favorite album before bed and see how you feel when you wake up the next day:

  1. Boosts Sleep Quantity and Quality

So long as you’re picking songs that allow you to feel both happy and relaxed, then using those songs will not only help you get better sleep, but you’ll fall asleep faster as well. It’s kind of the same as when you were a kid and your folks sung you lullabies to get you to sleep.

If your nightly routine involves playing some soothing background noise, you can multiply the positive effects. Not only will the sounds help relax and soothe your body and mind, but the whole routine aspect of it will tell your body that it now needs to sleep. 

  1. Fall Asleep Faster

Once your day is done, you’re probably thinking about a million things as you prepare to lay your head down to rest, no? The dishes you’ve not washed, that lady who cut you off on the highway, your tomorrow’s to-do-list, your workmates’ annoying comments, and so on.

All these thoughts want your attention, which helps keep you awake by occupying a lot of space in your brain. Listening to some sleep music before bed can help keep some of these thoughts at bay, giving your brain something else to concentrate on. 

  1. Relaxation 

Music can help you relax, especially if you’re listening to hits that 60-80 beats per minute sweet spot. This BPM is what’s closest to resting heart rate, making that type of music biologically soothing. However, we’re all very different. That’s what helps make the human being such a delightful creature. What one individual could find grating, another would deem as relaxing. 

For example, you might be a death metal rock head, and your wife likes classical music. Whereas you’d be able to dream blissfully after listening to some of Metallica’s greatest hits, your wife/husband might prefer some Tchaikovsky before bed. It all depends on what kind of music you like.

Avoid trying to use sounds you aren’t accustomed to or don’t like. They won’t help you much. 

Wrapping Up

Your brain is hardwired to respond to sound.

And since it sends signals to all the other body parts, this sound can end up affecting you in very many different ways. Your heart rate and breathing will mirror the BPM of a song from a physiological standpoint.

Different music genres and songs can alter the body’s hormone and chemical levels in different ways. For example, as we’ve already highlighted, playing pleasant sounds and music can boost serotonin levels (the feel-good chemicals in the brain). 

Although, “pleasant” in itself is a very subjective term. People can react very differently to the same song. With that said, music typically has a positive effect overall, and if you’re having trouble falling asleep, then sleep music might just be the answer to all your problems.

Few things in this world are better than having a good night’s sleep, and now you know how you can get this for yourself. Hopefully, this article explained everything you needed to know about sleep music. 

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