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 images, or "earworms", that is, when a song or melody is repeated over and over. time in a person’s mind .
These commonly occur while you are awake, but can also occur while you are 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 frequency of earworms , including how often they experienced an earworm while trying to fall asleep, waking up in the middle of at night or upon waking 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 comprehensive test and the gold standard measure for sleep, was used to record the participants’ brain waves, heart rate, respiration and other variables while they slept.
Before bed, we played three popular and catchy songs: ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift, ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepsen and ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey "- the original versions of those songs or the covers instrumentals without song lyrics. Participants answered if and when they experienced an earworm. We then analyzed whether that affected their nighttime sleep physiology. People who got an earworm had more difficulty falling asleep, more awakenings nocturnal 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 bed, recommendations that stem 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.