The relationship between soothing music and sleep is well-researched, and could be the key to unlocking a significantly greater quality of sleep and relaxation for many. Why is it that meditative music has the ability to induce feelings of relaxation and aid sleep so effectively? Before we dive into the science behind relaxation and the role music plays, let’s begin with a carefully curated relaxing music playlist you can use to meditate to or fall asleep to.
Drift off to these carefully curated relaxing music tracks
Poor sleep impacts our health and wellbeing. This downloadable playlist has been carefully curated to assist with helping with insomnia, calming of the mind and body, and the peaceful state necessary to achieve optimal relaxation and restorative sleep.
New release from sleep music industry leader
Liquid Mind’s new album, Simplicity, dropped on October 10 to rave reviews. According to Chuck Wild, of Liquid Mind, the new tracks are designed to evoke feelings of peace and calm.
“The title…Simplicity is a reminder to me that, in our interconnected e-world, distractions can be frequent, making it challenging to focus our time on the simpler things that bring great value to our lives,” said Wild.
As with all Liquid Mind® albums, Simplicity has been created to alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety; perfect for use in the background while working, or to use as a pre-sleep relaxation aid. (It’s always important to note, therefore, that this music can slow our reaction times, so never attempt to operate machinery or drive while listening to it).
Chuck Wild of Liquid Mind is a Los Angeles-based composer and producer, an Emmy-nominated songwriter, and a leading artist for sleep music. He is a valued part of the Myndstream team, with his catalogue of music featuring prominently on our platform. Liquid Mind’s previous albums are also all still fully available on all major streaming services.
Relaxing music improves deep sleep quality
Many parents rely on lullabies and gentle rocking movements to create relaxing rhythms to help their baby fall into a deep sleep. It seems impossible to imagine a parent not being aware of the powerful effects that these meditative approaches can have on their baby and the young – and science backs it up, with studies demonstrating that children of all ages sleep better when they have been listening to gentle, relaxing music.
Using music to aid relaxation and improve sleep is far less widely considered in the adult community, despite there being evidence that it continues to be highly effective across all age groups.
One particular study demonstrated that adults who listened to music for 45 minutes before sleeping reported greater quality of sleep from the very first night. Furthermore, the benefit of improved sleep quality appears to be cumulative, with those studied reporting a general improvement in sleep quality the more often they used music in their pre-sleep routine.
Music can also help you to fall asleep faster
Research also demonstrates that listening to calming music can also help to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. A study into insomnia in women and how long it took participants to fall asleep before and after adding soothing music to their bedtime routine. Without the music, the women fell asleep after an average of 48 minutes, while after adding the music, it only took them an average of 9.5 minutes to nod off.
Given that listening to calming music designed to add relaxation can both reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and lead to better sleep, it stands to reason that incorporating it can improve overall sleep efficiency and an overall sense of spa relaxation. In other words, the more time you spend in restorative sleep, the better the health benefits your sleep will provide.
The science behind music’s effect on sleep
When we listen to music, sound waves enter the ears and convert into electrical signals that the brain then interprets. As this happens, a variety of physical effects are triggered, many of which can directly impact the quality of our sleep.
Research has found that listening to music can affect our body and hormone production in a number of ways, including:
The release of dopamine
Dopamine is a hormone that the body releases during pleasurable activities, such as eating, laughing, exercising, and engaging in sexual activities. When this feel-good hormone is released prior to falling asleep, it can reduce feelings of anxiety and even help to reduce pain, all conducive to a better quality of sleep.
There is evidence to suggest that listening to music can affect the regulation of our hormones, including cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. When we are stressed, and our cortisol levels are elevated, we tend to feel more alert, making it difficult to fall (and stay) asleep. Listening to soothing, dreamy music designed for sleep at bedtime can decrease our cortisol levels, aiding sleep quantity and quality.
Additionally, music can help to soothe our autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for controlling the body’s unconscious and automatic processes, including those that occur within our digestive system, heart, and lungs. By calming this natural system, we can slow down our breathing and experience a lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Furthermore, evidence suggests that those who suffer from insomnia or trouble falling asleep can associate their bedrooms with angst and frustration, and that peaceful music designed to help us wind down can help to counteract these and other negative thoughts.
Background environmental noise from roads, neighbours, and more, can also negatively impact our sleep, and calming music designed carefully can assist in drowning these disturbing noises out. For some, these background noises can act as white noise and promote relaxation, but, especially when too loud or abrupt, these sounds can interfere with relaxation and sleep.
Music, meditation, and mental illness
Given that listening to soothing music has been proven to reduce our levels of the stress hormone cortisol, it makes sense that it can also positively impact our mental health.
Research shows that listening to music as a therapeutic tool had a positive effect on the stress of individuals in 68.5% of cases. These results also included the treatment of other mental illnesses, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Stanford University researchers even found that music has the capacity to alter brain function to the same degree as some medications.
Researchers have found that the best types of music for reducing stress include Celtic, Native American, and those that feature drums, flutes, and Indian stringed instruments – although many others are also found to be calming to the human mind.
The calming effect of some music styles naturally fits with its popular use for meditation. Some prefer to meditate in silence. Still, for many, using calm, rhythmic sounds can assist with falling into a meditative state, and the use of music for meditation is rich in history, including tools such as singing bowls, bells, and sounds of nature.
Even if you don’t intend to actually meditate, the meditative state that music can put you in can profoundly affect your ability to relax, improve your energy levels, and sleep better.
What music is best for sleep?
Of course, all of this research leads us to wonder what type of music is most effective for aiding good sleep. Despite the body of research already conducted, there remains no clear consensus as to which deep sleep music style is most optimal for sleep quality.
What is apparent is that one of the most significant factors regarding how calming music can affect individuals is whether it fits with their own musical preferences. We each have our own unique interpretation of sounds; the sound of thunder and rain or ocean waves may be relaxing to many, while some may find it unnerving. For this reason, it is essential to create effective custom playlists, or at the least try a variety of prepared playlists specifically curated for sleep to find what works best for you.
Tempo (or speed) is one of the most important factors to consider when designing a bedtime playlist. Normal resting heart rates can range between 60 and 100 BPM (Beats Per Minute). Since the calming nature of meditative music works on the principle that the body aligns with the rhythm of the music, most sleep music studies work with tracks that sit at around 70 BPM.
Many people want the flexibility and convenience of having playlists curated for them, and online music platforms, such as Myndstream, offer a variety of pre-prepared playlists. It’s vital to find the music that best suits you for optimal results, so taking the time to try out a few different genres and playlists is a good idea. You can also try them during the day initially to see if they make you feel more relaxed and in a state of bliss. You will often know almost immediately.
Tips for incorporating music into your sleep routine
Healthy night time slumber routines, otherwise known as sleep hygiene, is important for us all to prioritise, but especially for those having difficulty getting enough quality slumber. Here are some tips for incorporating music into your pre-sleep routine.
Find the right music for you
It doesn’t matter whether a particular track comes highly recommended by someone you know; we each have our own unique physiological response to sounds and music, so you must find the right fit for you.
Avoid meditation music that evokes intense emotions
Listening to certain songs can create intense emotional responses; whether these reactions create feelings of elation or sadness, they will likely cause your body to release hormones that aren’t conducive to relaxation, so they are best avoided.
Create a routine
Our minds and bodies respond well to habitual sleep routines, so create one that incorporates music, allowing sufficient time to relax and wind down after the day, and follow the same pattern each night.
Protect your hearing
Overnight use of headphones could cause damage to your hearing and ear canal if the volume is set too high and can also increase the risk of developing an ear infection. Ideally, use a device or speaker close to your bed, and set it to a soothing background volume.
Who is Myndstream?
Myndstream is a global music brand dedicated to creating music for health and well-being as well as for spa owners and schools.
Myndstream is a diverse team of creative people united in their passion for music. Our core belief is that music has the power to support people’s health and well-being, and we work with a talented network of professional musicians dedicated to creating and curating music that supports both individuals and businesses. As part of the Cutting Edge Group, we also have over 20 years of experience as the leading international full-service provider of music for film, television, advertising, and gaming.
Embodying key principles of both art and science, and backed by credible research, we aim to be the most impactful health and well-being music business in the world. Myndstream is committed to ongoing research, creating bespoke solutions, and building relationships with experts in the fields of music therapy, relaxation, sleep, and education across many other areas.
Myndstream’s mission is to ensure that our transformational music is accessible, with access to some of our award-winning, critically acclaimed global artists available via leading platforms like Spotify, YouTube, Apple, Pandora, and Amazon. We also offer spa businesses uniquely curated playlists for each treatment they offer via our own Myndstream platform.
The integrity of Myndstream
Myndstream sits proudly at the intersection of art and science. Working with an extensive network of wellness experts in conjunction with leading wellness music artists, we aim to create the ultimate music designed for health and well-being. We offer dreamy piano music designed to alleviate insomnia, to dreamy flute music designed to aid relaxation.
Everything we do at Myndstream is based on a foundation of integrity and research. We conduct our own in-house research, as well as work with experts, such as Sleepscore Labs, Psilocybin Clinical Trials, Feedback Loop: Spa Audio Test/Pilot Programme, and Junior Genius Education Research.
Relaxing sleep music; the key to better health
There is an abundance of research that supports the positive impact that relaxing, meditation music can have on our sleep, and overall health. For far too long, it has been generally regarded as an approach primarily relevant to infants and children, but the research clearly demonstrates that incorporating gentle meditation music into the lives and bedtime routines of adults can result in significant improvements to their mental well-being, sleep quality, and overall health.
There is a hugely growing demand for products that specialise in supporting well-being and mental and physical peace. At Myndstream, we believe that music is a significantly underutilised industry resource, and that improving the accessibility of free music streaming on platforms like YouTube will allow more consumers to discover their love for conscious well-being practices.