Self-reported reasons for listening to music for sleep

Gaelen Thomas Dickson, Emery Schubert


This paper investigated why music may aid sleep. 161 university students completed an online survey about the reasons music aided or inhibited sleep. Responses were then analysed through directed content analysis. Six researcher proposed reasons for how music could potentially aid sleep were identified: (1) entrainment, (2) masking, (3) enjoyment, (4) distraction, (5) expectation and (6) relaxation. 84.47% of participants reported listening to music as a sleep aid. Relaxation and distraction were found to have the greatest influence on the participant's decision to use music as a sleep aid. However, distraction was also the most frequently reported reason for not listening to music for sleep because it could increase wakefulness. Expectation, masking and enjoyment were significantly under-represented as reasons to listen to music. Entrainment was significantly under-represented as both a reason for and for not listening to music. Relaxation appears to be a unique reason for music aiding but not hindering sleep and may have particular significance for research on music and sleep. The present study demonstrated the importance of teasing apart (a) how well known a particular approach is in connection with sleep versus (b) the utility of the same approach for sleep induction in comparison to perpetuating wakefulness.

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