When it’s time to turn off the light and put your head on the pillow, the mind often starts working at full speed. The brain is not like a switch, turning on and off completely in an instant. To calm down and fall asleep, listening to music is one of the most popular strategies, thus escaping from stressful thoughts. But there is no perfect melody for this. There is a lot of variety in music tastes at bedtime.
A study conducted by researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark and published today in the Scientific Journal Plus one, shows that there is a great degree of variability among sleeping musical preferences. By analyzing nearly a thousand Spotify playlists that refer to the word to sleep (asleepin English) and its derivatives such as sleepingAnd sleepingAnd sleeping In different languages, including Spanish, and 130,150 unique songs, the researchers found great diversity in the musical characteristics found in these playlists. While the standard music is quieter and slower, with vocal instruments and no lyrics, Spotify’s sleep-related playlists also feature faster, louder, and more energetic songs.
The most popular song appeared at 245 out of 985 playlists Analyzed, it was dynamite From the Korean band k pop BTS. It is a melody that does not at all correspond to the descriptions of relaxing music, but it is a happy theme, with a very lively rhythm. Another popular song is lovable, Billie Eilish on the version with Khaled, which appears on 60 playlists. On the other hand, popular melodies for bedtime and children’s lullabies such as lullaby brahms, moon light Beethoven or little star where are you They appeared more than 100 times in the analyzed data set.
According to the authors, the most popular songs, even if they are moving, can induce some people to relax and fall asleep if they are familiar. The reason is that by listening to it over and over again, the brain becomes able to predict what is coming next, an effect similar to that produced by slow music with some differences.
Study co-author Kira Vibe Jespersen told EL PAÍS that there is still too little scientific evidence to know how much more important, at bedtime, are characteristics such as rhythm and volume, or individual preferences. Maybe it’s kind of a mix, the delicate balance between those two factors. This study contributes to broadening the perspective,” he affirms.
While it cannot be determined whether the songs improved sleep quality or helped listeners fall asleep faster, the study shows that musical taste that can lead to relaxation is highly individual and made up of a range of genders. Jespersen adds that these findings could improve the clinical use of music, as it shows the diversity of tastes. “It is very important to take individual preferences into account in clinical settings and in scientific studies,” stresses the researcher at the Center for Music in the Brain, in Denmark.
Alba García-Aragon, a sleep specialist at the Sleep Institute, commented that several studies to date have shown that patients who receive music therapy at night have significantly better sleep quality than a control group that does not listen to. On the other hand, an investigation was conducted in 2020 and published Psychological Science Association, showed that familiar and repetitive music, even if it seems relaxing, can lead to “involuntary musical images” that impair sleep quality. “Given the lack of scientific evidence, new lines of research will be necessary to confirm the efficacy of music therapy on sleep, examining both the general population by age group and people with sleep disorders,” says Garcia-Aragon.
Despite this, the specialist adds that relaxing music can benefit adults with sleep problems due to its physiological effects. First, because it slows down the body’s rhythm and ultimately reduces sympathetic nervous system activity and norepinephrine levels (both of which control levels of bodily alertness, among other tasks). With this change, the feeling of serenity and calmness increases. “It slows heart rate and breathing rate, lowers blood pressure, and relaxes muscles. In people who are under a lot of stress in their daily lives, music can help them sleep, shift focus away from stressful thoughts and also mask outside noise,” he explains via mail. mail.
Because of its physiological benefits, music may be one of the first recommendations for adults with sleep disorders. And the doctor stresses that “compared to drug therapy, it is a procedure that is cheaper, easier to access, does not generate addiction, and has not been proven to have any harmful effects.”
However, the habit of listening to a podcast, for example, can have the opposite effect in some cases. While audio narrations help you tune out stressful thoughts and focus attention on something different, on the other hand, they activate multiple parts of the brain, including areas responsible for sensory processing, emotions, and memory creation. Messages: On the one hand, you can prepare your body for sleep by staying still In bed with your eyes closed and ready for it. But, on the other hand, your brain is trying to stay awake so you can listen to podcasts, thus preventing you from falling asleep and maintaining your sleep,” says García Aragon.
The Spanish Sleep Association estimates that between 20% and 48% of the population suffer from sleep problems at some point, which eventually turn into chronic insomnia in about 10% of the population. García Aragón emphasizes that it is necessary to seek professional help when the quantity and quality of sleep is affected by “difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep” in a systematic way, without an apparent external cause.
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