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Music for better Sleep: How it Works

Updated: Jan 30

a cute boy sleeping deeply with music playing soft music next to the bed, pastel dark blue and purple as main colour

How many times have you sung a lullaby to help your child fall asleep? Songs or sleep-inducing music often seem to work miracles in children's rooms – even if they're not sung by you. We explain why music aids your child in both falling asleep and relaxing.

The Magic of Music and Sounds

When your child listens to their current favorite song, you can observe a lot: they might sing along, laugh, dance, and express joy through the song. Music affects us in various ways, for instance, our body releases endorphins when listening to our favorite tunes. These are essentially our body's happiness inducers.

Not only does music evoke different emotions, but it also aids in relaxation and sleep. Relaxation techniques and meditations for both children and adults often incorporate music to amplify the relaxation effect. Even natural sounds, like the babbling of a stream, help your child find peace, even if the sounds are technically produced.

How Sleep Music Works

  • Music drowns out unpleasant noises such as loud children or traffic, which can sometimes hinder sleep.

  • Music provides your child with a distraction when they can't sleep due to racing thoughts. By focusing on the various sounds and melodies while listening, their mind has less capacity to dwell on worries or fears. This makes falling asleep much easier.

  • Music positively influences both the body and the brain. Studies suggest that music, for instance, prevents certain stress reactions in the body. Furthermore, music affects a part of our nervous system, ensuring we relax more, such as by calming our pulse and breathing. In this way, your child becomes more relaxed, and when they are relaxed, they fall asleep more easily.

  • Even children associate music with pleasant things, like closeness or fun. So, when your child listens to sleep music at night, especially if you're singing a lullaby, it makes bedtime feel cozier and more secure.

Characteristics of Relaxation Music

  • Combines various instruments and sounds

  • Steady, not too fast tempo

  • Low volume

  • Simple melody and sequence of notes

  • Soft timbre

Tip: Even favorite songs can help with relaxation and winding down. For meditations or sleep, it's best to use typical relaxation music or natural sounds.

Sleep Music for Children

Sleep can be a significant issue in many families: the child can't fall asleep at night, sleeps restlessly, or wakes up frequently. Sleep music provides an easy initial solution to such sleep problems. As you've learned, calming sounds, lullabies, and relaxation music positively influence sleep in various ways, even for children.

A study showed that the sleep quality of elementary school students improved when they regularly (in this case, 3 weeks) listened to relaxation music before sleeping. Moreover, research suggests that children fall asleep faster with music, even when compared to medicinal solutions.

White Noise and Sleep

You might have heard a similar story from a friend with a baby: as soon as the hairdryer or vacuum cleaner starts, the baby falls asleep peacefully. This is due to the so-called "White Noise."

"White Noise" is a kind of consistent background sound. It resembles the "Shhh" sounds that many parents instinctively make to soothe their child. The noise from "White Noise" drowns out disturbing background sounds. Moreover, the monotonous sounds seem to calm the baby's brain, helping them relax and fall asleep.

You don't necessarily need a vacuum cleaner or hairdryer to put your child to sleep. Nowadays, "White Noise" is available through apps. Although it doesn't guarantee 100% success, research shows that 8 out of 10 toddlers sleep better with this background noise. It remains uncertain whether the noise should continue after the child has fallen asleep.


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