Bedtime music for sleep problems in older adults with dementia: a feasibility study


  • Kira Vibe Jespersen Center for Music in the Brain, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University & the Royal Academy of Music Aarhus/Aalborg, Denmark.
  • Jens Madsen Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
  • Peter Vuust Center for Music in the Brain, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University & the Royal Academy of Music Aarhus/Aalborg, Denmark.



Sleep problems are highly prevalent in elderly persons with dementia. Poor sleep constitute a major problem as it causes distress and may aggravate the dementia symptoms. Music has been proposed as a potential sleep aid, and in this study, we assessed the feasibility and effect of bedtime music listening for improving sleep problems in older adults with dementia. We used a within-subject design including 40 participants. Participants and caregivers evaluated the feasibility and effect after the intervention period, and we measured sleep with wrist actigraphy 14 days at baseline and during the 14 days intervention period. In the intervention period participants listened to music for 30 minutes every night at bedtime. We developed five playlists with slow, soothing music of different genres, and participants could choose the genre they liked the best. We found that the music intervention was well-liked and sleep improvement was observed in around half the participants. Wrist actigraphy showed no significant changes in the objective sleep pattern. Music listening at bedtime could provide a safe, comfortable and low-cost intervention for sleep problems among elderly persons with dementia, the intervention is feasible, but more research is needed to determine the effect on sleep outcomes.

Author Biographies

Kira Vibe Jespersen, Center for Music in the Brain, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University & the Royal Academy of Music Aarhus/Aalborg, Denmark.

Kira Vibe Jespersen is postdoctoral researcher at Center for Music in the Brain, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Jens Madsen, Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark

Jens Madsen is postdoctoral researcher at Parra lab, Department of Biomedical Engineering, City College of New York, USA.

Peter Vuust, Center for Music in the Brain, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University & the Royal Academy of Music Aarhus/Aalborg, Denmark.

Peter Vuust is Director of the Danish National Research Foundation’s Center of Excellence for Music in the Brain, Professor in Neuroscience, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, Denmark and Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus/Aalborg, Denmark.


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