How to use Music for Sleep

Step 1. Making your commitment

The first step to a better nights sleep is making a personal commitment to using music the correct way. Scientific researchers have found music to be one of the most effective, if not the most effective non-pharmaceutical sleep aid. If you expect the same sleep improvements as these researchers found, you need to follow their methodology. This means committing to using music every single night for at least 30 days. Music is like a dieting to lose weight, initially you may not notice a difference but sticking it out is where these researchers saw the difference. Surprisingly studies using music as a sleep aid have not been able to find a point where sleep quality plateaued as music use increased.

Step 2. Using the right tools

This one is easy, we’ve done all the hard work to make the most scientifically based sleep music available. This may not be your favourite music, you may even find it boring but that’s because our music is medicine. It’s simple, repetitive and unemotional without interruptions to help you disengage from stressful thoughts without being to distracting or engrossing.  I’ve implemented findings from 200+ songs successfully & unsuccessfully used for sleep to craft the perfect music for insomnia. The best part is the music is slightly different every time so you won’t ever need to look for more music. Subscribers get access to three other great features. (1) Set heartbeat – music composed at the tempo of your heartbeat to synchronise and then slow down  (2) Music Builder – choose instruments and sounds that you associate with pleasant relaxing experiences to de-stress (3) Custom Image – choose an image of a place where you have felt relaxed to relive that experience.

Step 3. When to use the music

A crucial part of how music aids sleep is creating an association between music and sleep. To strengthen this association, playing music needs to be the last thing you do before falling asleep. This means listening to the music ‘at bedtime’, no earlier. The music you use for sleep, should be only used for sleep at bedtime. Do not using this music for any other activity, including napping.

Step 4. Setting up and playing the music

Start by choosing how you want to listen to the music. This can be through the mobile device speakers but preferably high quality speakers or ‘SleepPhones’. Then choose a preset (baroque is freely available) and press play. Set the volume on your device to be as quiet as comfortably possible because quieter sounds are less distracting. If you are bothered by external sounds (such as traffic or neighbours), we’ve included ambient sound recordings so that you can increase the volume of the ambience to drown out unpleasant sounds. If you find the music too distracting or engaging, you can disable elements (such as the high notes) to simplify the music. Our app will automatically turn off the music after 45 minutes.

Step 5. Engaging with the music

I recommend two exercises to help you engage with the music and in turn distract you from stressful thoughts and increase relaxation. (1) Breath Entrainment – synchronise your body to the music by breathing slowly and focusing on exhaling to the rhythm of the music. Enabling ‘beat’ can help you find the rhythm of the music. (2) Visualization – listen to the ambient sounds and try to imagine where you would hear them. Engage your senses. What would you see? smell? taste? feel? Subscribers can choose from 30+ ambient sounds to relax to.

Step 6. What happens if the music isn’t working

Initially you may have trouble falling and staying asleep with the music. This does not mean it isn’t working or doesn’t work for you. It means you are still developing an association between music and sleep. In this situation, turn off the music and get out of bed. Find a relaxing activity to pass time until you feel tired such as light reading, writing a journal or having a cup of herbal tea. When you are tired again, go back to bed and play the music. It is important that you do not lay in bed awake listening to the music if you cannot sleep, this will impact negatively on the music sleep association. Do not use your mobile device in bed for any other reason than Can’t Sleep to ensure the music sleep association is strong.

Step 7. Other tips to improve your sleep

Android & iPhone Device Tips

  • Disable device notifications
  • Enable device flight mode
  • Enable night mode or blue light filter
  • Lower device brightness as much as possible

Other Tips and Advice

  • Go to bed at the same time every night (including weekends)
  • Get some morning sun immediately after waking up
  • Create a strict pre-bedtime routine e.g. “I have a shower, then brush my teeth, put my phone here, turn off the light, play the music, sleep”
  • Rise at the same time every day, regardless of the amount of sleep the night before
  • Ask your friend to keep you accountable to ensure you use Can’t Sleep every night.
  • If you need to take a sleeping pill to sleep, you should still listen to the music also
  • Only go to bed if you are tired
  • Don’t do anything else in bed but sleep and sleep music (don’t eat, watch television or read)
  • Cover windows with dark curtains, shutters or fabric
  • Cool room to 20*c
  • Hide alarm clock from sight in bedroom
  • Exercise daily
  • Don’t allow pets in the bedroom
  • Don’t drink caffeine after 10am
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Don’t linger in bed after waking up
  • Don’t spend your day in mostly sedentary activites
  • Don’t smoke before bed
  • Don’t engage in mentally stimulating or stressfull activies at night-time (e.g. work, video games, social media etc)