Experts from the National Sleep Foundation of the United States believe that older people need to sleep at least 7-8 hours a day to fully recover the body. But, as a rule, they sleep a little less and usually have a shorter deep sleep phase. This poses serious risks to their health: for example, in a recent study, scientists found a strong link between sleep disorders and the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Older adults who take 30 minutes or more to fall asleep were 45% more likely to develop dementia within five years.
Scientists from National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan set out to evaluate the effectiveness of various ways to overcome sleep problems in older people, focusing mainly on the benefits of soothing music. They analyzed five studies involving a total of 288 elderly patients with sleep disorders.
These studies compared the effectiveness of listening to music before bedtime versus medication, as well as the effects of rhythmic melodies and soothing ones. About half of the volunteers listened to different music before going to bed, others received therapy for insomnia, or did not take any medication at all.
The results showed that listening to pleasant music at a slow pace for 30 minutes significantly improved the patients’ falling asleep and quality of sleep compared to rhythmic melodies. Music therapy has also been found to be more effective than hypnotics. Scientists have suggested that it may reduce stress and anxiety levels by slowing down breathing and heart rate.
The review authors also found that the maximum effect is achieved after four weeks of treatment for insomnia with lullabies. “Music therapy is safe, easy to use, and can effectively improve sleep quality in the elderly,” the scientists concluded.