Calming Music at Bedtime: Improving Sleep for Older Adults

Ask any parent or grandparent how to put a fussy baby to sleep, and they’ll tell you to play or sing a lullaby. The soft, lilting notes of a lullaby have long been known for putting babies and children fast asleep. What many didn’t realize until recently is that calming music can be just as effective for sleep problems among older adults.

According to, as many as 40 percent of older adults experience insomnia, and up to 70 percent have some type of sleep problem – like trouble falling to sleep, waking up too early, or waking up several times during the night. Sleep problems are nothing to yawn at either. Poor sleep can lead to falls, accidents, memory problems, depression, or just plain feeling irritable the next day.

Prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids have their own list of side-effects, so a prescription for calming music as the solution to sleep problems might be just what the doctor orders.

The study defines calming music as music with a “slow tempo of 60 to 80 beats per minute and a smooth melody.” Rhythmic music that is faster and louder is not as helpful, studies showed. The researchers believe calming music lowers levels of stress and anxiety, slows heart rate and breathing, and lowers blood pressure.

Listening to music for longer than four weeks, apparently, is more effective for improving sleep quality than shorter efforts – so if it doesn’t work the first time, keep playing the music for 30 minutes or more each night for at least a month.

At Advena Living, we love improving the lives of the people who are part of our assisted living, long-term care and skilled nursing communities. There are all sorts of cutting-edge medical interventions for health issues that arise, but there are also simple little techniques that can make people’s lives better. We believe in the power of a calming environment, not just in a musical sense, but also in the look, feel and freedom we provide our community members. Reach out to us today for assistance with any questions you have or problems you’d like to discuss, including sleep issues.

About Advena Living

Advena, which is Latin for newcomer, is built on welcoming newcomers to our communities and creating a culture that means “home” to them. Because our community members are considered part of our extended family, we give them the flexibility and freedom to live the life they want, while providing the person-centered care they need. Your life, your choice – welcome home.