Will music help me sleep? It’s a good question.
When you’re battling insomnia, you lie there for hours on end, getting agitated and worrying about being tired and crabby the next day. You may dread, yet again, missing the eight hours of sleep you need to be getting every night.
There’s a wide range of reasons why you might be suffering from the nighttime blues. It could be a reaction to medication, too many cups of coffee, troubling thoughts or a wide range of other reasons.
So the first step in battling insomnia is to try and identify what is stopping you from going to sleep at night. Introducing good sleep hygiene habits, such as going to sleep at the same time every night and avoiding stimulants late at night, is a also a wise step.
But if you’ve cut out the caffeine, haven’t been sat in bed working on your laptop and cant identify any psychological reason why you are still awake, it might be worth listening to some music a try.
How can music help me sleep?
To get to sleep, your mind and body has to be able to relax. If your mind is too active, worrying about things or being distracted, then it wont be able to go through the stages of relaxation needed to drift off to sleep.
There are a number of reasons why music can help you get to sleep at night:
1. Helps your body to relax
Along with your mind, your body has to be able to relax in order to get to sleep. This means your heart has to be able to beat at a slow, steady pace so that your muscles and body can relax.
Music can help if it is slow and matches the rhythm of a calm heart because it can subconsciously slow your breathing so that you reach a semi-meditative state and your muscles stop being tense and relax.
2. Calms down an overactive mind
Have you ever noticed how your thoughts seem to become abstract and random just as your drifting off to sleep? This is your mind becoming relaxed. It stops focusing on the here and now, but instead delves into the chaos of the subconscious mind. To help your mind get there, it needs to be able to relax.
Adopting the practices used by meditators to relax their mind and body can be an effective way of overcoming insomnia. Soft, relaxing music can enable you to calm the mind and to think in a less ‘present’ active state.
3. Blanket out background noise
If you live in a busy street, with noisy flatmates or family members watching the TV until late at night, background noise can be a real problem. Music can be helpful in providing a blanket of soft noise to replace the background sounds that might be keeping you awake.
Another option is to listen to ‘white noise’ that provides a continuous stream of sound. This can mask distracting background noise that’s disturbing you.
What sort of music can help me sleep?
Some of the music that helps people get to sleep includes Coldplay, Loreena McKennitt or even some downbeat ‘Dream’ trance music.
The best advice is to try calm instrumental music without any vocals. If there’s a singer in the song then it can distract your mind and stop it from relaxing. This could be because your brain has to subconsciously make sense of the words.
Soft, soothing music without vocals is probably the best for helping your mind and body to relax. You could try listening to panpipes, something ambient (like the sound of crashing waves or rainfall) or maybe even classical music.
A study by the University of Toronto found that music with slow rhythmic patterns created a meditative mood and slower brainwaves. It also found that classical music with this pattern helped people to get to sleep faster and for longer.
So if you’re wondering ‘what music can help me sleep? try some Bach or Beethoven to see if the scientists are right and that calming classical is great for sleep.