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Turn on the Tunes to Beat Insomnia

Turn on the Tunes to Beat Insomnia

Listening to music before bed can lead to a more restful sleep.

The original cradle song, “Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, Gute Nacht” (Lullaby: Good Evening, Good Night), was written by German composer Johannes Brahms in 1868. Now known as “Brahms’ Lullaby,” this nighttime classic is still used by parents around the world to get their little ones to sleep.

But we could all use a little lullaby once in a while, so it’s no surprise that lots of folks of all ages make sure they have tunes sending them to Slumberland. Researchers from the UK recently published a survey in PlosOne that found more than 60 percent of adults use music to fall asleep. Many favored rock and roll or classical.

Music is also beneficial while you’re sleeping. In one randomized study of 50 adults, people who went to sleep with 45 minutes of soothing music had longer periods of REM sleep, the deepest, most restorative stage, compared to tune-free participants. They also had shorter durations of stage 2 sleep, which is lighter sleep.

The key, say the researchers, is music that soothes—but there’s no telling what that might be! One study of 650 folks (62 percent said they used music as a sleep aid) found the participants relied on 14 different musical genres (classical, rock, country) and named 545 different artists (Megadeath, Sinatra, Jay-Z).

So incorporate some tunes you find pleasing into your nighttime routine (not too loud in those earbuds, you’ll damage your hearing). Then, in the words of Brahms (sing along if you like): “Lay thee down now and rest/ May thy slumber be blessed.”

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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