With MFTS.com's latest music offering, “Lyrical Imagery,” which is designed to support stress management and relaxation and sleep, I want this post to explain in detail how we can use music listening to be an effective sleep aid to promote and support relaxation and to encourage the use of music as part of one's sleep ritual – for children and adults. I have said in the past that when we us music to aid in health and wellness, a great thing is, there are no side effects. Before I get started I want to remind us that my previous three blog posts have talked about the research and rationale of “Lyrical Imagery,” i.e., why it was written, how music affects us, etc. Also, visit musicfromthestart.com for the free download of “Lyrical Imagery.”
This subject of using music listening for relaxation and sleep has been talked about and researched for years, for ex, "Music Improves Sleep Quality in Students" and "Music Enhances Sleep in Preschool Children"
To get started I want to first mention two important keys that optimize the use of music for sleep, they are 1) that the person chooses their favorite music, or preferred music and 2) that once the music is decided on, that music should be listened to every night as part of a sleep ritual, thus developing a conditioned response.
What is a conditioned response? A conditioned response is an unconscious physical or emotional reaction to a stimulus. For our purposes here... if I use the Lyrical Imagery music (or any music) every bed time to fall asleep to, after a short while I will start to associate relaxation and sleep with that specific music. That is a conditioned response. Another common example is when someone in the summer starts to use a fan at bed time... Again, after a short time, because the fan drowns out noise or the air movement is comforting, whatever, they also start to associate relaxation and sleep with the fan... using it even in the winter.
When we choose music that we like, that we have positive associations to, music can be a positive diversion from negative thoughts and stressors. Used in this manner we get to the point where our favorite, preferred music played nightly, elicits the conditioned response first, of relaxation, then sleep.
Also, because we humans make associations so easily, wellness support modalities such as music are good, as I said earlier, because there are no side effects. And I'll add that music is something we essentially can use as much as we want. Another aspect of music that makes it so effective, mentioned in a previous post, it is that music is a primary cognitive experience. What this means is that when we hear music we have no control over the feeling and emotions it gives us. All sensory experiences are like this. When we hear, see, smell, feel and taste things, again, we have no control over the feeling and emotions sensory experiences give us. For example... if we are in a mall and a fragrance that reminds us of our grandmother gets our attention, whether we want to think of our grandmother or not, we will think of her. We can not control the thoughts that come about due to the sensory experience. Primary cognitive experience equals conditioned response.
To summarize, when we choose our favorite music (preferred music), and listen to that preferred music every night, we start to associate that music with sleep and comfort, i.e., a conditioned response.
My prescription this week??? Again, grab the free download of "Lyrical Imagery" or choose another favorite CD, artist or style, play that music every night and pleasantly relax as you go to sleep with your favorite music... Ahh