Face the music
We also found out a lot about the reasons why people are turning to music in the first place. And they are varied. In our research, people highlighted the importance of music for blocking disruptive external (such as traffic) and internal (like tinnitus) sounds, for filling uncomfortable silences, and providing a sense of companionship and security.
This suggests that a one size fits all approach to music for sleep is unlikely to suit all insomniacs, because people are tuning into so many different types of music for so many different reasons.
The next step for our research will be to expand our survey to cover as many populations and cultures as possible. We will then test the music that people report to be consistently effective at different stages of sleep using advanced sleep recording techniques.
Our aim is to develop personalised music selection technology, combined with advice on music sleep strategies, as a complete package for people who need to restore their sleep to normal for the sake of their health, quality of life and well-being.
Until then, the best advice we can offer when choosing music to put you to sleep is to trust your own musical choices over generic “sleep” playlists. You know best what you are looking for in a bedtime track – based on what you like and what you need from the music at the time. And in the near future we will be armed with the necessary evidence that will allow us to move from this “instinctive approach” to a more informed and optimised application of music as an effective aid in the battle against insomnia.