Many people listen to music during the day and before going to bed to relax. But according to a new study of scientists from Baylor University (USA), listening to music before going to sleep is not so useful.
It’s all about involuntary musical images, or so-called “earworms,” when a song or melody is repeated over and over in a person’s mind. This usually happens while we’re awake, but researchers have found that it can also happen when we try to fall asleep.
Our brains continue to process music even when it’s not playing, including when we sleep. Many people listen to music before going to sleep because they know it feels good. But sometimes, the longer you listen to music, the more likely you are to catch an “earworm” that causes your sleep to suffer- says Dr Michael Scullin, lead author of the study.
The study involved a survey and a laboratory experiment. The survey included 209 people who talked about their sleep quality, music listening habits and the frequency of “earworms,” including when trying to fall asleep.
The experiment involved 50 participants who were taken to a sleep neurobiology lab, where the research team attempted to induce “earworms” to determine how they affect sleep quality. Polysomnography was used to record the subjects’ brain waves, heart rate and breathing.
A study published in the journal Psychological Science showed that people who are used to listening to music in bed often have “earworms” and worsen sleep quality. Subjects who were “sickened” by compulsive melody had slower vibrations during sleep, a marker of memory reactivation. The increase in slow fluctuations dominated the area of the brain corresponding to the primary auditory cortex, which is involved in processing involuntary musical images when people are awake.
Almost everyone thought music improved their sleep, but we found that those who listened to music more often before bed slept worse,- Dr Scullin said.
Researchers recommend listening to music less often before bed. If you catch the “earworm,” you can try to get rid of it with a simple cognitive activity that requires concentration. This could be making a to-do list or writing out your thoughts on paper.