Listening to Music Near Bedtime May Affect Sleep Negatively

Listening to Music Near Bedtime May Affect Sleep Negatively

Most people listen to music throughout the day, often near bedtime, for relaxation. But does listening to music really harm sleep? Sleep researcher Dr., an adjunct professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University. When Michael Scullin realized he had woken up in the middle of the night with music playing in his head, he wanted to investigate how music (particularly songs that popped in our heads) could affect sleep patterns.

Scullin’s latest study, published in Psychological Science, examines the relationship between sleep and listening to music and focuses on a hitherto little researched mechanism: involuntary musical imagery or “earworm”; that is, when a song or melody plays over and over in one’s mind. While this phenomenon is common when awake, Scullin discovered that it can also happen when trying to sleep.

“Our brains continue to process music even when nothing is playing; even when we are apparently asleep,” says Scullin. “Everyone knows that listening to music makes us feel good. Adolescents and young adults routinely listen to music near bedtime. But sometimes we can overdo it. The more music you listen to, the more likely it is to have a song playing in your head at bedtime. When that happens, your sleep can be negatively impacted.”

People who regularly experience earworms at night (once a week or more) are six times more likely to get inadequate quality sleep than people who rarely experience the condition. According to the study, some instrumental music is more likely to cause earworms and impair sleep quality than with spoken music.


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