How Music Regulates Your Sleeping Patterns
Doctors prescribe thousands of sleep aids a year -- many have side effects and are addictive. Music, itself, acts as a natural sleep aid, and its only side effect is that you might have to buy Spotify Premium.
In this post, we will discuss the use of music therapy for:
And a few ways you can use music therapeutically at home.
Do you ever feel yourself drifting off to sleep when listening to smooth jazz or a symphony? On one hand, you might just despise jazz. On the other hand, this is likely because the slow beat relaxes you.
According to the Sleep Foundation, music directly affects your parasympathetic nervous system (which is in charge of relaxation and sleep). Listening to music mimics some of the exact changes your body goes through when falling asleep -- a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and muscle relaxation. Older adults who listen to 45 minutes of relaxing music are proven to fall asleep faster, longer, and wake up less frequently during the night.
Getting into the habit of listening to music before bed can eventually train your body to sleep better -- letting you wake up more refreshed, rested, and ready to brace the day.
Insomnia is defined as having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even in a preferred sleeping environment.
There are two types of insomnia -- acute and chronic. Acute insomnia is short-term and usually caused by disturbances in life such as a final exam or medical testing. Chronic Insomnia is much more serious and occurs at least three nights a week -- this is where your sleep habits become more clinical and you may need to seek medical help.
Someone who is experiencing insomnia may show one or more of these symptoms:
According to a recent study by Aarhus University, music is proven to help those with insomnia.
“We included six studies with a total of 314 participants. The studies examined the effect of listening to recorded music at bedtime for 25-60 minutes daily in a period of 3-35 days. Five of the studies measured sleep quality and the overall result indicates that music can improve the quality of sleep for adults with sleep disorders,” -- Ph.D. student Kira Vibe Jespersen of the Aarhus University study.
Another study concerning sleep disorders showed that listening to music consistently for three weeks before bed proved to be successful to those with acute and chronic insomnia.
A music therapy assessment for insomnia may look something like this:
Do you get a full night’s sleep, but still feel tired in the morning? Do you snore loudly? You may have sleep apnea. This potentially dangerous sleep disorder is marked by repeatedly starting and stopping breathing during the night. It is likely that you don’t know you have it until you get a sleep study done.
There are three main types of sleep apnea:
A recent study by Dr. Christopher P. Ward, a professor of psychology at the University of Houston Clearlake, and his colleagues observed that musicians who play woodwind instruments are at a significantly lower risk of sleep apnea.
Using this information, a connection in music therapy science was made between playing double reed instruments and sleep apnea -- the muscle movements. By taking the same muscle movements an oboe player uses, exercises were constructed for everyday people with sleep apnea.
The study “Effects of Oropharyngeal Exercises on Patients with Moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome,” written by Katia C. Guimaraes further proved the connection between these exercises and a better night’s sleep for sleep apnea patients. A total of eight out of 16 patients saw their sleep apnea lesson and two saw it disappear completely.
The exact set of exercises can be viewed at Sleep Apnea Guide.
Often, a music therapist will talk about shifting your mindset from problems to solutions. In this case, you must stop thinking about sleep and just do it. One way they accomplish this is by having a patient intently focus on the music. This stops those racing thoughts and directs all attention to the vibrations and tones of the lulling sounds.
When you’re settling down for the night, try not to think about your busy day. Instead, put on some relaxing tunes and just listen. Soon, you will find yourself completely relaxed.
Another essential part of relaxation is our breath patterns. When music is aided by a breathing coach, it becomes incredibly powerful. Many therapists instruct their patients on when to take deep breaths while playing music or listening to it.
At home, you can try listening to meditations. Usually, they are accompanied by music but if they are not, play some soft beats in the background for better results.
Music is an organic alternative to sleeping supplements that offers so much and has no drawbacks. Try practicing these music exercises at home and if you enjoy it, consider talking to a music therapist. If you have any of the above conditions, music therapy is a consequence-free option -- there’s no harm in trying a lullaby.