As we get older, it’s harder and harder to get a really great night of shut-eye. Whether you toss and turn in bed or constantly wake up throughout the night, it can feel like such a battle. Now, new research is showing that a specific category of music can actually make a big difference in how you sleep.
Poor sleep affects anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of older adults, and recent academic work found that less restful slumber can lead to a higher risk of dementia and premature death. To figure out how to combat those issues, a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society looked into how music could specifically affect the sleep quality of adults over 60. Scientists investigated the shut-eye of 288 participants ages 60 and older over five randomized trials and used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index to observe their sleep duration, latency, depth, disturbances, and other factors that measure how restful a night of sleep is.
They made two important discoveries: First, participants who listened to music for roughly 30 to 60 minutes around bedtime tended to have higher sleep quality scores than those who didn’t listen to music. In other words, they were more likely to get to sleep quicker, stay asleep with fewer disturbances, and have deeper sleep cycles. Second, participants who listened to what’s called “sedative” or calming music had a higher sleep quality than those who listened to “rhythmic” music.
What’s the difference between the two? Sedative music is around 60 to 80 beats per minute and has a smooth melody, while rhythmic music is around 80 to 120 beats per minute and is often louder with a more pronounced beat. Some great sedative sounds include classical music, jazz, meditation tracks, and ambient noises. Sedative music is also heavy in instruments like piano, strings, and bells as opposed to drums and base.
So the next time you’re getting ready for bed, it might be a good idea to turn down the Top 40 music and queue up some Beethoven or a little Louis Armstrong to lull you to sleep. You deserve a good night’s rest!