Like most people, you probably spend at least a few hours a day listening to music. It is not uncommon to see people with their headphones plugged in while commuting, exercising, and working.
You probably blast some tunes while you are in the shower too! This makes sense considering all of the positive things that music can do for you.
It can get you pumped up, prevent you from getting bored, and help you get into the right mood. So, what about listening to music before going to bed?
Is it something that you should include in your nightly routine, or is it something to be avoided at all costs? Let’s delve into this further…
The Benefits of Music for Sleep
Now, the main question that you may have is regarding whether listening to music has any impact on your sleeping patterns. This section breaks it down for you:
The Effect of Music on the Brain
Now, as you are probably aware, the brain plays a large role in sleep. Therefore, it is interesting to sleep what happens to your brain when you listen to music before you get some shuteye.
Music actually has a much greater impact on your brain than you might imagine. It is assumed that the auditory processing part of your brain lights up when you begin to hear music.
However, the actual extent of what goes on during this time is much greater than that. It has also been noted that regions pertaining to memory, attention, planning, and even movement were activated.
To a considerable degree, many of the effects on your brain are positive.
In fact, your brain can actually anticipate when you are about to hear some of your favorite songs by releasing dopamine in expectation.
Basically, it is your brain’s way of telling you that you are engaged in a pleasurable activity.
Can Music Help You Fall Asleep?
If you toss and turn at night, taking ages to fall asleep, you may be wondering ‘does listening to music help you sleep?’.
After all, there are probably some songs that make you feel calm and relaxed, the perfect combination to make it easier to nod off.
As you begin to fall asleep, your body undergoes several changes. In particular, your heart rate begins to lower, your breathing becomes gentler, and even your blood pressure begins to decrease.
These transitions act as signals, making it easier to go to sleep.
The interesting thing is that music can also cause these changes. This is because your breathing, heart, etc., more or less synchronize with the music that you are listening to.
So, if you are listening to tunes that can elicit such a reaction, then you could presumably fall asleep faster to music.
Another way that music may help you to drift off into the land of nod is if it is a part of your bedtime routine.
See, although we may not realize it, a certain routine can act as an indicator to your brain and body that it is time to go to sleep.
Often, this includes brushing your teeth, getting into your pajamas, and powering down electronic devices.
For some people, listening to music for a bit before going to sleep may also be part of this routine. In this case, yes, listening to music may help you to fall asleep.
The point to remember here is that each person is different. So, while some might require noise or music to help them sleep, others may need absolute silence.
In the end, you should stick with what works for you.
Does Music Improve Sleep Quality?
Now that you have some clarification on the impact of music before you sleep, let’s turn to the matter of sleep quality. In the above section, it was found that music can help you to fall asleep faster.
So, with this in mind, can music help you to sleep better and more deeply?
The short answer is – yes, music can actually help to improve your quality of sleep as well. For those looking to sleep for longer or more restfully can do so by listening to music for around half an hour at bedtime.
Now, one of the reasons that you sleep better after or even while listening to music is the same as why you fall asleep faster to tunes. The right music can help your body to get into a state of rest and remain there.
The Impact of Music on Sleeping Disorders
One of the most common sleeping disorders is insomnia. It is estimated that a large percentage of the population experience this issue for at least a short period of time. Insomnia is characterized by the difficulties experienced in falling or staying asleep. A continued period of insomnia can result in various health and mental issues.
The good news is that a number of insomniacs have actually been able to find relief with music. Clinical studies conducted with large groups have found that even among people with sleeping disorders, music has been helpful.
Not only does music make it easier for people to relax and fall asleep faster, it also ensures that they continue to sleep for an extended period of time as well.
What’s most promising about studies such as this is that it seems to be an effect that most people can enjoy, regardless of other factors.
The Negative Effects of Music on Sleep
Unfortunately, music is a bit of a double-edged sword. While it does offer up a multitude of advantages as far as sleep is concerned, there are also certain things that you need to be careful about as well.
Can Music Make It Difficult to Fall Asleep?
In a previous section, we covered the concept of your heart rate, breathing, and other vital signs syncing up with music. This means that while it can help you to calm down, it can also have the opposite effect. Music that is loud or has crescendos is more likely to get your heart beating even faster.
Therefore, you will feel more wide awake and have even less chance of falling asleep than you did before.
Considering the effect that music has on your brain, you know that various parts of your brain are engaged in listening to songs. As mentioned, this includes emotion, movement, and memory. So, when turning on the tunes before bed, you could actually be employing these regions, making it quite difficult to fall asleep.
Can Music Disrupt Sleep?
There is no denying that music can help to improve your overall sleep quality. However, what would happen if you were to hear music while sleeping? Would it throw off your sleep cycle?
If you were to only listen to soft and calm music, then it is unlikely that the music would disrupt you from your sleep. Nonetheless, as mentioned above, swelling music can cause your heart rate to increase.
Considering that most songs have crescendos at some point or another (or get louder at certain stages) it is quite possible for this to stir you from your sleep. Thus, if you were to keep the music on while you were playing, there is a chance that your sleep maybe somewhat disrupted.
What Kind of Music Should You Listen To?
Now that you have some idea of what type of music that you should listen to and what you should stay away from, let’s delve into this a little further.
Listening to your favorite music, provided of course that it is gentle and calm, can be a powerful ally in helping you go to sleep. Of course, as mentioned, you will need to ensure that the song doesn’t suddenly get loud or crazy at times.
It may also help you to listen to the instrumental versions of your favorite tunes. Often, when there are lyrics involved (particularly ones that you are familiar with) your brain attempts to follow along. This engages your brain and can prevent you from sleeping.
Interestingly enough, one of the best types of sounds to listen to may not even be something that you consider music at all. Instead, white noise and soothing nature sounds such as the ocean, waterfalls, or rain.
This is because, in addition to being rhythmic, these are sounds that your brain has identified as ‘safe’. So, it will not bother rousing your body from sleep and will allow you to continue sleeping in a relaxed manner.
Best Music for Insomnia
Since insomniacs have a harder time falling asleep, typical sounds and music may not do much them to help them out. However, studies have found that classical music has had some success here. Of course, not all types of classical music are quiet and relaxing.
If you do find a set list that fits this criterion, though, it should greatly help to alleviate the symptoms of insomnia. Sufferers will be able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.
Music to Avoid
Heart pounding, catchy music is definitely something you should avoid at nighttime. This includes anything that might excite you in any way, even if it just makes you feel like dancing. You may also want to stay away from anything that evokes emotion, memories, or anything that may engage your imagination.
Some people prefer listening to the radio and with such options as internet radio, you get to handpick the kind of music that you can listen. While this may seem like a good idea, this option is a little unpredictable as you can’t tell what will play next.
Also, there is a tendency for music to suddenly stop and start again which could jerk you awake.
Can Earbuds and Headphones Damage Your Health?
Like most people you probably spend at least several hours of the day with either a pair of earbuds or headphones in your ears. You may have also heard some of the negative aspects of using these audio devices for long periods of time. If so, what does this mean for sleeping with earbuds or headphones plugged into music?
Well, the bad news is the science is in, and you really shouldn’t be falling asleep with your headphones in. This is because of what constant sound can do to your hearing. On average, scientists recommend that you listen to your music at 60 percent of the full volume.
Even then, you shouldn’t have headphones or earbuds in for more than 60 minutes a day.
The main concern here is nerve damage. If you listen to music at levels above 95 decibels for too long, you could permanently damage your hearing. This could also be true if you have your earbuds in for hours and hours, even if the music is soft. Considering that you will be trying to get at least eight hours of shuteye, it is probably not a good idea to wear headphones or earphones in.
The Right Way to Listen to Music While Sleeping
If you want to preserve your hearing, then you should really avoid earbuds and headphones while sleeping. In case this is not an option for you, you can try over the headphones, preferably with less padding. This will allow some of the sound to diffuse away from your ears, cutting down on damage.
Ideally, though, you should set up a stereo, laptop, tablet, or similar device a short distance away from you. Then, have soft music playing throughout the night. This is the best way to ensure sleep quality while also avoiding any health risks.
Hopefully, this article will give you some insight whether or not you should listen to music before you go to sleep.