Music improves sleep efficiency
That’s the measurement of the time you spend actually asleep compared to the overall time you spend in bed. A lower sleep efficiency can be an indication of restless sleep with awakenings throughout the night, trouble falling asleep at the beginning of the night, or waking very early and not being able to fall back asleep.
Research shows that a pre-bedtime music listening session can help you fall asleep more quickly.
Music is an effective treatment for short-term and chronic sleep disorders, according to a recent analysis of research. The therapeutic effects of music on sleep get stronger with time, the study concluded, meaning the more consistently you use music to help you sleep, the more effective the practice may become.
The influence of music over mood and stress helps sleep, too
One of the most important ways music can help sleep is indirectly, by its effects on mood and emotional state. Our mood has a significant impact on how well—or not well—we sleep. Stress is without a doubt the most common challenge to my patients’ ability to fall asleep routinely at the same bedtime each night and to sleep soundly throughout the entire night. Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders frequently go hand-in-hand with sleep problems, including insomnia. (I wrote recently about how lack of sleep hurts your emotional health
Sleep has what’s known as a bi-directional relationship with mood and emotional equilibrium. That means poor sleep can be both a cause and a symptom of struggles with mood. Depression, anxiety, stress, and other emotional and psychological problems interfere with sleep. And sleeping poorly can make us more vulnerable to stress, more emotionally reactive, and more prone to depression and anxiety.
When we find ways to relieve stress and improve mood, sleep almost always improves. Music, with its ability to activate and influence the emotional and memory centers of our brain, can help.
Several studies have tested music’s effectiveness to reduce stress in high-anxiety situations—often, in patients undergoing medical treatments, like surgery. In these circumstances, researchers have found listening to music can lower anxiety significantly, even more effectively than prescription drugs. It can also lower anxiety and simultaneously improve sleep in people who’ve experienced physical and emotional trauma, as in research conducted at the University of Kansas.
In healthy adults, too, research has shown that listening to relaxing music reduces feelings of anxiety, as well as the physical symptoms that accompany anxiety, including elevated blood pressure and heart rate and nervous system arousal. It also reduces cortisol, a hormone that stimulates alertness and also stress, according to numerous studies.
Research further shows how music can be effective in relieving the symptoms of depression and other mood disorders. It can improve both depression and sleep in people with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to recent research. Depression and sleep also showed improvement in a study that investigated the effects of relaxing music for people with schizophrenia.