Why Meditation Music is not Good for Sleeping

Meditation Music is Designed to Relax

Meditation music is designed to relax you so that you can suspend thought and allow your mind and body to relax. OR IS IT?

Well, it can do that, but often we find that it doesn’t and in the recent Virtual Mind Body Spirit Festival we found out something really interesting. That meditation music can actually keep you awake rather than help you sleep.

You see meditation and sleep are two different things. Meditation is designed for relaxation which is an alpha brainwave state and sleep is a theta or delta state. And even though meditation music helps you relax, it can impede your sleep.

“Meditation music needs to have particular components to make it good for sleeping” says Tim Ringgold, Music Therapist at Reach for Music!

Meditation Music needs a Tempo or Beat

Research has found that when music doesn’t have a tempo or beat it can become droning. It’s good for meditation or focusing the mind but not for sleep. In fact, people who have mental problems will react to this type of music with agitation rather than relaxation.

I was watching a thread in the Festival Facebook group recently where somebody was asking why it was difficult to sleep with meditation music on and it may well have been that there was no tempo to the music she was listening to.

And Tim Ringgold spoke about this during the Virtual Mind Body Spirit Festival.

Music is like Food 

According to Tim:

“Music is like food. It’s very subjective. We use music as a prescription to feel a particular way, so we curate our playlists on what we’re trying to accomplish.

There has been a lot of research trying to prove that one genre is more effective than another for relaxation, but the overwhelming factor was that it was the patients own playlist that made a difference.” 

It seems that the music they had been listening to that was familiar, was the best for relaxation. And the genre didn’t play a part. 

However, the tempo did.

Continued below

In Music Tempo Matters

So if you want to fall asleep, listen to music with a tempo or beat that slows down so that you CAN fall asleep. If you’re doing a meditation and want to fall asleep, choose meditation music with a tempo.

In fact, it seems that when you are asleep you’re still susceptible to tempo. When you’re experiencing theta brainwaves such as sleeping or even in a coma, your mind is still receptive to music beats. (So try not to live above a Night Club)  It’s been found that patients in a coma respond to the tempo of music in an extraordinary way.

Music can slow your Brainwaves to Relax

Tim has used his music in hospitals to help coma patients and cancer patients to slow their brainwaves so that they can sleep more peacefully. Now you may think that coma patients are already sleeping peacefully but according to the monitors they’re hooked up to, this isn’t always the case. So Tim records his own music to play to them, and the reason it works to slow down the heart rate and blood pressure, is because it has a tempo. Tim will match their heart rate with his music and then he will gradually slow it down and their heart rate follows suit.

That’s because innately, everything in the world naturally wants to synchronize to a beat. If you put a line of grandfather clocks against a wall they start off with their own rhythm but in a very short time, they will all be ticking to the same beat.

When you listen to a song as you’re walking, your pace will synchronize with the music. I’ve especially noticed this when the music has been too slow for my pace, I nearly trip over, so I change the song.

Meditation Music slows you Down

It works with moods too. If you are in a sad mood, you’ll gravitate towards blues or slow music but if you want to pep up or increase your energy, just go for a walk and increase the tempo with some upbeat songs and you’ll soon synchronize with the music. So keep a few songs on your playlist that you love and are good just for that. I have a playlist that I use in the car when I’m on my own so that I can play it loudly and the music changes my mood and lifts my spirits.

(Take a listen to what Tim has to say in the short video above. It’s an excerpt from the festival and it’s quite fascinating.)

Meditation Music is Closer than you Think

Therefore, according to Harvard Research, if you’re experiencing anxiety or stress and you want to wind down and relax, the music you should be listening to, is the music in your own playlist. It’s called Patient Preferred. Because you already have a connection with it and it doesn’t matter the style or the genre. It only matters that it has a tempo.

If you’d like some of Tim’s music that he’s designed especially relaxing, with a tempo that slows your heart rate, Tim has a free download at timringgold.com

gayle maree

You can download and listen to some of our free guided meditations here.

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Gayle Maree

About Gayle Maree

Gayle overcame decades of limiting beliefs to live a life she had only dreamt about. She spends her time between USA and Australia (home to their 7 grown children and Natural Health Clinic) and conducts workshops all over the world with her husband of nearly 30 years, Allan; helping women take back their power by shedding their old patterns of physical and emotional pain to manifest the happiness they truly deserve.

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