It’s no secret that getting consistent, high-quality sleep is essential for our health.
Unfortunately, as we live through a global pandemic, we are all facing a large amount of uncertainty. And this uncertainty is only magnifying sleep problems.
During times like this, it’s tempting to reach for sleeping pills as a quick fix. But as some studies have shown, these pills are downright dangerous. In fact, in some cases they can significantly increase the risk of heart failure.
But the good news is, recent research points to a better way to get deep, restorative sleep—and it doesn’t involve a single pill.
21st century heart “medicine”
I’m convinced that the future of medicine will include exponentially more music—especially for people with cardiovascular issues.
One reason music is so good for your heart is its ability to positively affect your parasympathetic nervous system—which is responsible for “turning on” your body’s rest functions—like sleep. When your parasympathetic system is activated, your heart rate and breathing slow down and stress levels drop—helping to ease you into a deep sleep.
And research confirms it.
A 2005 study found that older adults who listened to 45 minutes of relaxing music before bed fell asleep faster, slept longer, woke up less during the night, and rated their nights as more restful than when they didn't listen to music. They also found that their sleep improved each week, which indicated increased sleep benefits over time.
But the truth is the “right” kind of music can make all the difference in helping you get the sleep you need.
A 2020 study looked at the heart's response to music and found that what is calming for one person can be arousing for another—suggesting that the benefit of personalizing your sleep music to be of great importance.
Generally speaking, slow, soft and simple music at a low volume tends to work best for most people. Music that has a tempo of 60-80 beats per minute works well.
For some people, repetitive and quiet instrumental music is especially soothing.
In case you need a place to start, here’s a 2-hour playlist I recently made for my Dad Ralph called “Relax for Ralph.” It includes some of my best and most relaxing instrumental music.
Remember, once you find sleep music that works for you, stick with it! The more often you use the same music, the more likely your brain will recognize it as a “cue” that it’s time for sleep.
Sound sleep, sound heart
Here are a few more tips for safely boosting your sleep quality—and, in turn, your heart health:
Exercise during the day with a Rhythm Walk: Getting more natural sunlight and exercise can go a long way to improving your nights.
Breathe slower to sleep deeper: Here’s a three-step, science-backed method that can help you fall asleep in the time it takes for you to get ready for bed.
Of course, feel free to adjust it according to what feels most comfortable for you.
Sleeping pills increase cardiovascular events in heart failure patients, study finds
Music improves sleep quality in older adults https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.
American College of Cardiology. (2020). Music as medicine? 30 minutes a day shows
benefits after heart attack. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from:
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