It seems like we're all in a constant state of hustle and bustle. From catching up on emails, rushing through errands, checking Instagram every 10 minutes and keeping up with our personal lives, it can be tough to remember how to simply unwind and relax—even before bedtime.
According to a study from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, an estimated 40 million Americans live with chronic sleep disorders, while 20 million more have trouble sleeping from time to time.
So, what can you do to start getting a better night's rest?
If counting sheep hasn't been working for you, consider listening to relaxing music to help you clear your mind. Putting on some calming tunes just before bed can help you fall asleep faster, wake up less during the night and feel more rested in the morning. Still not sure whether music can really help? Here are three ways music has been proven to help improve sleep quality.
1. Music Lowers Your Heart Rate
Did you know that relaxing music can have a direct impact on your physical state? According to a study published in the online peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, music has the power to lower your heart rate and slow your breathing. Try listening to slower-paced, soothing pieces in the classical, jazz and folk music genre that have a rhythm of around 60 to 80 BPM. Similar to meditation, relaxing music slows down the activity of the nervous system, which will help decrease anxiety and lower blood pressure. In addition, calming music has the potential to help those who suffer with insomnia by reducing the stress hormone noradrenalin.
Need some song inspiration for a sleep music playlist? Spotify polled its users to find out the top 20 songs for sleeping, and discovered that British singer Ed Sheeran is the most popular artist to listen to when snoozing. "Thinking Out Loud" is the most-streamed song in the U.S. and globally across 2.8 million sleep-themed playlists. Other music artists who topped the list include Sam Smith ("Stay With Me") and Ellie Goulding ("Love Me Like You Do").
"Thinking Out Loud"
Artist: Ed Sheeran
"Stay With Me"
Artist: Sam Smith
"Love Me Like You Do" (from Fifty Shades of Grey)
Artist: Ellie Goulding
2. Music Triggers Feel-good Chemicals in Your Brain
When we satisfy our desire to eat or to sleep, our brains release dopamine, the feel-good neurochemical that's associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. This same chemical is released when we're listening to music.
Researchers at McGill University in Canada conducted a study, which involved observing the brains of eight participants as they listened to music over the course of three sessions. The results showed that dopamine was released during peak moments of emotional arousal when participants were listening to music.
Another study conducted by Japanese neuro-scientist Tsutomu Ōhashi revealed that although humans can't consciously hear ultrasound (frequencies above 20 kHz), music with high frequency components has a powerful effect on the brain and is perceived as more pleasant than lower frequency sound. This phenomenon is known as the hypersonic effect. Ōhash's findings indicate that listening to High-Resolution Audio can actually increase your brainwave activity and make you feel happier.
Bottom line—when you feel good emotionally and physically, you're less likely to run through that endless list of things you need to do before bedtime. Being in the right state of mind is just what you need to help you settle down for a satisfying night's sleep.
3. Music Masks Distracting Noises
Sudden loud sounds—those that are louder than the ambient noise in our environment—can disrupt our REM sleep. Predictable, familiar music can help you tune out distracting background noise, which is critical for quality sleep. Music is something that is regular and rhythmic, as opposed to a noisy TV show, the traffic outside or a dog barking, which can be more irregular and jarring. Keep in mind that music is more effective for those who are already accustomed to hearing melodies while falling asleep.
Best Headphones for Sleeping
Now that you know how music can benefit your sleep quality, the next step is to find a pair of headphones that works for your sleeping habits. You'll want a pair that is wireless, so you don't get tangled up in the cord throughout the night. It's also important to get a pair with comfortable ear wraps since you'll be wearing them for several hours.
Sony's MDR-1ABT Bluetooth® Headphones are a wireless option that provide the perfect balance between comfort and ultimate sound quality. Their pressure-relieving soft leather ear pads shape around your ears for a snug, comfortable fit. And if you're looking for audiophile-quality sound, you can do no better. These headphones are optimized for High-Resolution Audio class Bluetooth® streaming. The Bluetooth® LDAC codec supports bitrates up to three times higher than typical Bluetooth® streaming, 96 kHz sampling rates and more efficient coding for CD-quality wireless sound.
The coolest thing about these headphones is that they feature touch sensor control. You can simply touch the ear pads to stop or play tracks, swipe left and right for the previous or next track, trace and stop for scanning, or swipe up and down to adjust the volume. It's the most convenient way to control your music, especially when you're curled up in bed.
Another perk is that the MDR-1ABT headphones were designed with ergonomic 3D ear pads, which seal music in so you don't disturb light sleepers nearby, and they keep sound distractions out so you're guaranteed a good night's sleep.
In addition to realizing the benefits of music, it's important to maintain good sleeping habits. Remember to reduce caffeine and alcohol intake, keep the lights low in the evening, stick to a regular sleep schedule, and stay off any electronic devices that emit blue light (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) at least 90 minutes before bedtime.
Now that you're equipped with a sleep music playlist and the right gadgets for bedtime, you're all set to throw on some comfy pyjamas, crawl under the covers, turn on some peaceful, relaxing music and get a good night's sleep.