A new study suggests that a lot of people listen to music to help them fall asleep — especially Ed Sheeran and Coldplay. Sixty-two percent of respondents in a survey by the University of Sheffield told researchers they use music as a sleep aid to help them relax or block noise.
The people surveyed cited more than 500 artists from 14 different genres they listen to as they go to sleep. Among the favorite artists were Sheeran and Coldplay.
But according to Dr. Carol Ash, a sleep specialist at Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health in New Jersey, noise might also be able to improve the quality of your sleep.
"When you sleep, the one sense that you need is the ears to know you're safe, right?" Ash said. "If you're sleeping at night, our ancestors may have been eaten by predators, so they needed to have a way to know the environment's not safe. So purring, cooing, low tones, sounds that come in at 60 beats per minute are very soothing. It activates the brain in a way that tells you you're safe," Ash said.
Ash also said music has the ability to activate the brain stem, since it can both relax you or excite you. By using soothing music, you can "reset" how you think about your bedroom.
"When we go to bed and we're not having trouble with insomnia, we think bed, sleep. People with insomnia think bed, wide awake. So insomnia is a disorder of hyper arousal and learned behaviors, what you've come to expect of your bedroom. So there's science now that shows that music actually influences you at a neurochemical level," she said.