Researchers in India decided to explore how playing different types of music before one go to bed can affect one’s anxiety levels and overall well being. The study, which is being presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Munich, concluded that a person’s anxiety level is likely to drop when they listen to calm, soothing music prior to going to sleep, as opposed to upbeat music or none at all.
The 149 participants of the study, all of which were in good health and had an average age of 26 years old, took part in three sleep sessions on three different nights. During the first session, calm music (akin to the type one would hear during a yoga class) was played before they went to sleep. This was following by pop music with a regular beat on the second night and no music on the third.
The team of researchers measured the heart rates of the participants for five minutes before the music or period of silence began, for 10 minutes during the music or period of silence and for five minutes afterwards.
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They found that the participants' heart rate variability increased during the yoga music, went down during the pop music and stayed the same when there was no music played. Furthermore, the scientists used the Goldberg Anxiety Scale to measure the anxiety levels of the participants before and after each sleep session.
They noted that the anxiety levels of the participants decreased drastically following the yoga music, increased a lot after listening to pop music and also rose after the period of silence. While the study only used a small cohort of participants, study author Dr Naresh Sen believes it demonstrates the positive effect of listening to yoga music before bed can have on heart health.
“We use music therapy in our hospital and in this study we showed that yoga music has a beneficial impact on heart rate variability before sleeping,” Dr Sen, a consultant cardiologist in Jaipur, India, explained. “Science may have not always agreed, but Indians have long believed in the power of various therapies other than medicines as a mode of treatment for ailments.
“This is a small study, and more research is needed on the cardiovascular effects of music interventions offered by a trained music therapist. “But listening to soothing music before bedtime is a cheap and easy-to-implement therapy that cannot cause harm.” According to Dr Sen, playing yoga music at bedtime slows the body’s heart rate so that it goes from being in “fight or flight” mode to being in “rest and digest” mode instead.