Older adults may improve sleep with calming music, study says

Older adults who need to enhance their sleep can do so using music, according to a Taiwanese study.

National Cheng Kung University Hospital researchers analyzed five study results to determine how listening to music can affect sleep quality in older adults.

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The findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Researchers scoured studies that evaluated how listening to music affected older adults facing sleep issues who live at home. Five studies with 288 participants were evaluated. Half of the participants listened to music while the other half received their typical treatment for their sleep issues. Or, they had no treatment. Those treated with music listened to rhythmic or calming music ranging for 30 minutes or up to an hour. This lasted anywhere from two days to three months. Every participant completed a survey about how well they believe they slept. Ultimately, they had a sleep quality score ranging from 0 to 21.

Then, researchers compared the differences in average scores for people who did and didn’t listen to music. They reviewed differences in people who listened to calm and rhythmic music. Time was also evaluated. Researchers compared scores of people who listened to music for four weeks or more and four weeks or fewer.

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What they found indicates adults 60 and older who live at home sleep better when listening to music for 30 minutes and up to one hour at bedtime. Calm music was found to better improve sleep quality compared to rhythmic music, which is faster and louder. It’s also suggested that older adults listen to music for more than four weeks for maximum benefit.

“Music therapy is safe and easy to administer and can effectively improve sleep quality among older adults, particularly those listening to more sedative music for at least a four-week duration,” researchers wrote in their conclusion.

According to MedlinePlus, sleep habits tend to change with age. Oftentimes, older adults wake up during the night an average of three or four times. They also awake earlier. Total sleep time may slightly decrease and there’s often an abrupt transition between sleeping and waking. That can make older adults feel as if they sleep lighter than they did before.