It’s very common to listen to music before bed. In fact, research shows that it can be a fantastic practice to help us to become restful and ready to doze off. However, according to the results of a study recently published in the Psychological Science journal, this doesn’t apply to all songs.  Your choice of tunes can help to decide whether you will drift off into slumber land or lie awake for hours.

What Research Says About Music Before Bed

Some melodies make very effective music before bed, lulling you to sleep. However, other tunes encourage your mind to continue processing the song even while you sleep.  This according to the aforementioned study, which was called “Bedtime Music, Involuntary Musical Imagery, and Sleep”.   

In this study, which took place in a sleep lab, about one quarter of the participants who were listening to familiar songs as their music before bed found that they were awoken in the middle of the night still experiencing those tunes “stuck” in their heads. This experience of an earworm in the night was associated with a lower quality of sleep. 

Faster Tempo Tunes Are Discouraged

The study’s authors determined that songs with a faster tempo were among the most likely to cause an earworm and other related involuntarily musical imagery. These were therefore determined to be the least recommended for music before bed. The researchers found that young people were most likely to be negatively impacted by this issue as this age group is likely to listen to types of music with upbeat or faster tempos, as those are the tunes designed to be the catchiest.

This particular research was unique as it didn’t just look into music before bed as a whole, but also examined the impact of songs on causing earworms and on the impact of earworms on sleep quality.  Though some of the researchers already suspected that earworms would be damaging to sleep quality because they are irritating, this wasn’t the consensus.  Some of the researchers thought that, as irritating as earworms might be, they could have potential positive benefits as they could distract from ruminations – an overactive mind thinking and rethinking about worries, concerns and memories – that can keep someone awake.  It was the former group that turned out to be correct, as it appeared that some songs continued to have an impact on sleep quality even after the participant had fallen asleep.