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Saturday, 17 August, 2002, 06:43 GMT 07:43 UK
Personalised 'brain music' helps sleep
'Brain music' could lull you to sleep
'Brain music' could lull you to sleep
Having trouble sleeping? Maybe a little music will help you sleep.

But what Canadian researchers are proposing is not a blast of your favourite pop singer, or a relaxing piece of classical music, but individually tailored "brain music".

The therapy has been developed to help insomniacs.

A team at the University of Toronto has created music which matches a person's brain waves.


This is common sense dressed up as science

Neil Stanley, British Sleep Society
When that particular piece of music is played, people's anxiety levels seem to fall, and they are able to relax and sleep.

To create the music, researchers study the specific rhythmic and tonal patterns which create a meditative condition in an individual.

They then use a special computer programme developed by the researchers, who include music therapists, then selects unique "healing" music which creates those same brain wave patterns when the person is trying to sleep.

The researchers say that the brain music appears to reduce some of the psychosomatic symptoms like anxiety - but, unlike some drug treatments for insomnia, it does not have the potential to cause the patient to become dependent on the therapy.

Music therapy

The team recently carried out a study which found brain music reduced anxiety and improved sleep in people who had suffered from insomnia for at least two years.

Ten listened to individually tailored brain music. Eight more listened to music which had not been specially designed for them.

Both groups experienced less anxiety after listening to the music over a four-week period,

But the effect was more pronounced in the group which listened to the personalised music.

The findings were presented to the Associated Professional Sleep Societies' meeting in Seattle, Washington.

Leonard Kayumov, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, said: "Brain music therapy, because of its more favourable side-effect profile, may represent a possible alternative for therapeutic management of insomnia and anxiety.

"From ancient times through to the present, philosophers, historians and scientists have written and spoken of music as therapeutic agent."

Favourite music

Neil Stanley, chairman of the British Sleep Society, told BBC News Online: "Anything that's relaxing and that pushes other noises, like traffic, out of your mind is going to help you sleep."

He said a favourite piece of music, whether it was a calm piece of classical music or a loud piece of rock, would be even more beneficial.

Mr Stanley added: "If the piece that's played is anti to what someone likes, then it won't be restful.

"This research dresses up something that shouldn't really be that academic. It's common sense dressed up as science."

See also:

13 Jul 02 | Health
27 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
13 Mar 01 | Health
26 Oct 00 | Science/Nature
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