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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Listening to music shortly before you go to sleep could be dangerous – warns new research

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

A recent study, published in Psychological Science, has investigated the relationship between listening to music and sleeping, focusing on a rarely explored mechanism: Involuntary musical imagery, or “earworms”, i.e. when a song or melody is repeated over and over in a person’s mind.

These commonly occur while you’re awake, but they can also occur while you’re trying to sleep.


The study involved a survey and a laboratory experiment. The survey involved 209 participants who completed a series of surveys on sleep quality, music listening habits, and the frequency of earworms, including how often they experienced an earworm while trying to fall asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, or waking up in the morning.

In the experimental study, 50 participants were taken to the Cognition and Neuroscience Laboratory at Baylor, where the research team tested earworms to determine how they affected sleep quality.

Polysomnography, a complete test and gold standard measure for sleep, was used to record participants’ brain waves, heart rate, breathing and other variables while they slept.

Before we sleep, we played three popular, catchy songs: Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’, Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’, and Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’: the original versions of those songs or the instrumental versions without lyrics of the songs. Participants answered whether and when they experienced an earworm. We then looked at whether that affected their nighttime sleep physiology. People who caught an earworm had more difficulty falling asleep, more nocturnal awakenings, and spent more time in the lighter stages of sleep.

These results are contrary to the idea of music as a hypnotic that could help you sleep. Health organizations generally recommend listening to quiet music before bedtime, recommendations that arise largely from self-reported studies.

Instead, this study has objectively measured that the sleeping brain continues to process music for several hours, even after the music stops.

Image Credit: Getty

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