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Music Can Improve Quality of Sleep for People with Insomnia

A new study from the Center for Music in the Brain at Aarhus University shows that music can improve the quality of sleep of adults with sleep disorders.

Millions of people all over the world experience difficulty sleeping. Many people find it difficult to fall asleep, wake several times during the night, or experience poor sleep quality. Poor sleep has negative consequences for the individual, but also for society in general in the form of poorer well-being, increased illness or more accidents.

Working together with two collaborative partners from Ohio/Heidelberg and Glostrup, PhD student Kira Vibe Jespersen and Professor Peter Vuust from the Center for Music in the Brain at Aarhus University have had the overview article “Music for insomnia in adults” published, in which they assess the effect of music on sleep disorders in adults.

A comprehensive literature search has been carried out to identify all the relevant studies that which have studied the effect of music on sleep in adults with sleep disorders. The overview article has been compiled as a Cochrane review, which is a very thorough review of the scientific literature on a specific research area, where limitations and methods are clearly defined in advance.

“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,” explains PhD student Kira Vibe Jespersen.

No side effects

The major advantage of using music to combat insomnia is that it is easy to use and has no side effects.

Colorful painting of a man playing a guitar.

The major advantage of using music to combat insomnia is that it is easy to use and has no side effects. Image is for illustrative purposes only.

“However, there is a need for further research to clarify how music affects objective measurements of sleep, as well as which aspects of the music are important,” says Peter Vuust, who leads the Center for Music in the Brain.

One of the centre’s objectives is to examine how music affects the human brain, as well as how music can be used to promote health and well-being.

About this music and sleep research

Source: Kira Vibe Jespersen – Aarhus University
Image Source: The image is in the public domain
Original Research: Abstract “Music for insomnia in adults” by Kira V Jespersen, Julian Koenig, Poul Jennum, and Peter Vuust in The Cochrane Library. Published online August 15 2015 doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010459.pub2


Abstract

Music for insomnia in adults

Background

Worldwide, millions of people experience insomnia. People can have difficulties getting to sleep, staying asleep or may experience poor sleep quality.

Poor sleep affects people’s physical and mental health. The consequences of poor sleep are costly, for both individuals and society. Many people listen to music to improve their sleep, but the effect of listening to music is unclear.

Study characteristics

We searched electronic databases and music therapy journals to identify relevant studies. We included six studies with a total of 314 participants. The studies compared the effect of listening to music alone or with standard care to standard care alone or no treatment. The studies examined the effect of listening to pre-recorded music daily, for 25 to 60 minutes, for a period of three days to five weeks.The evidence is current to 22 May 2015.

Key results

Five studies measured sleep quality. The findings suggest that listening to music can improve sleep quality. Only one study reported data on other aspects of sleep, including the length of time it takes to fall asleep, the amount of actual sleep someone gets, and the number of times people wake up. This study found no evidence to suggest that listening to music benefits these outcomes. None of the studies reported any negative side effects caused by listening to music.

Quality of the evidence

The quality of the evidence from the five studies that examined sleep quality was moderate. The quality of evidence for the other aspects of sleep was low. More high quality research is needed to investigate and establish the effect of listening to music on other aspects of sleep than sleep quality and on relevant daytime measures.

“Music for insomnia in adults” by Kira V Jespersen, Julian Koenig, Poul Jennum, and Peter Vuust in The Cochrane Library. Published online August 15 2015 doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010459.pub2

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