Do you ever listen to music before bed? That might be helping to keep you well rested. A new study published in Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain suggests that listening to music, whether it be happy or sad, can improve sleep quality and well-being.
Poor sleep is something many adults struggle with, and it can lead to negative outcomes such as reduced cognitive functioning and increased symptoms of anxiety or depression. Music as a sleep aid has been previously studied and has a lot of self-report support for its usefulness.
Music is thought to improve sleep by distracting the individual from stressful thoughts or background noise. Most previous research on this subject has focused on the elderly or those with sleep disorders, and this study seeks to bridge that gap by utilizing a healthy, young adult population.
Nadyanna M. Majeed and colleagues recruited 62 healthy young adults ranging from 19 to 31 years of age who were recruited from a university in Singapore. Participants completed three conditions: happy music, sad music, or pink noise (the control group) in a randomized order. Happy music was primarily in major keys while the sad music was predominantly in minor keys. Pink noise included sounds such as rustling leaves and steady rain.
Participants were asked to listen to the audio before bed for 5 consecutive nights and there were 2 days between conditions. Participants reported quality of sleep and wellbeing each morning.
Results showed that both happy and sad music showed was associated with improvements in subjective sleep quality over listening to pink noise before bed. There were no significant differences between improvements from listening to happy music and improvements from listening to sad music. Listening to either type of music reduced stress and negative affect the next day for participants and improved their reporting of life satisfaction. These results suggest that listening to music has clear benefits over simply listening to any sounds before bed.
“The findings of the current study bear potential practical applications; given that music listening is relatively cheap and easy-to-implement, healthcare professionals and lay individuals alike can use music listening as a cost-effective and convenient intervention for improving subjective sleep quality and other daily well-being outcomes,” the study authors wrote.
This study took strides into understanding the benefits of listening to music before bed. Despite this, it had some limitations. One such limitation is that participant’s familiarity or admiration of the music was not measured, which could have significant effects on how helpful the music was in aiding sleep. Additionally, this study cannot rule out the possibility that pink noise is harmful to sleep quality, which would make it a poor control condition. Lastly, this study focused only on young adults in Singapore; future research should expand the subject pool.
The study, “Does bedtime music listening improve subjective sleep quality and next-morning well-being in young adults? A randomized cross-over trial“, was authored by Nadyanna M. Majeed, Verity Y. Q. Lua, Jun Sen Chong, Zoey Lew, and Andree Hartanto.
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