Listening to music before bed may be bad for you: brain and sleep damage

Listening to too much music may have negative effects on falling asleep and the sleep cycle. That's the finding of a recent study

Many people listen to music to fall asleep, but a new study reveals that the effect may not be so healthy. The tunes that invade our brains at night could cause problems falling asleep and create difficulties in the regular sleep cycle. The investigation was published in Psychological Science. Neuroscientist Michael Scullin, of Baylor University, who performed the tests on 50 volunteers, said that "the brain continues to process music even when it's not playing, while we're asleep."

The study on the damage of music before and during sleep

Scullin and his colleagues put 199 people through a survey and 50 volunteers through a laboratory sleep test with the aim of measuring how listening to music, before going to sleep, affects rest. Specifically, the team focused on catchy tunes, technically known as "involuntary musical imagery."

In the survey portion, however, participants who frequently listened to music during the day reported frequently having nighttime problems, which then had a negative effect on sleep quality at night. In the lab test, instrumental or standard versions of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off," Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" were played, while polysomnography tests were used to measure subsequent sleep quality.

The results of the investigation would show that catchy tunes can disrupt sleep, but surprisingly, instrumental versions of the songs caused about twice as many problems as vocal versions.

Music for insomnia sufferers: what's the harm

Brain scans showed slower oscillations during sleep in people who reported having a tune in their head, a sign of memory reactivation. The region of the brain involved, the primary audio cortex, is also linked to processing melodies that stay in the head when people are awake.

While previous studies had linked late-night music listening with better sleep for those with insomnia, the researchers in the new research suggest that the sleep cycle may actually be getting worse because, even once the music is turned off, our brains continue to process it for several hours.

Scullin therefore suggested avoiding listening to songs right before bed to limit the chance of a catchy tune getting stuck in our heads. While harmony may not be ideal for a good night's sleep, it does become useful for combating Covid-19. A researcher at MIT has transformed into music theĀ antibodiesĀ able to fight and neutralize the Sarscov2 virus.

Stefania Bernardini