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Complement Ther Med. 2014 Feb;22(1):49-56. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.11.003. Epub 2013 Nov 14.

The effects of sedative music on sleep quality of older community-dwelling adults in Singapore.

Author information

Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Monash University, Gippsland Campus, Churchill, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Nursing Administrations, Institute of Mental Health, Singapore.
Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore. Electronic address:



To examine the effects of music listening on sleep quality amongst older community-dwelling adults in Singapore.


In a randomized controlled study, a cohort of older adults (N=60) age 55 years or above were recruited in one community centre. Sleep quality, as measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), was the primary outcome. Participants' demographic variables including age, gender, religion, education level, marital and financial status, any chronic illness, previous experiences of music intervention as well as depression levels were collected. Participants were asked to listen to soft, instrumental slow sedative music without lyrics, of approximately 60-80 beats per minute, and 40 min in duration, for 6 weeks. Generalized estimating equations were used to examine the effects of the intervention on the elders' sleep quality.


Significant reductions in PSQI scores were found in the intervention group (n=28) from baseline (mean±SD, 10.2±2.5) to week 6 (5.9±2.4, p<0.001), while there were no changes in the control group (n=32) from baseline (9.0±2.4) to week 6 (9.5±2.6). At week 6, the intervention group showed a better sleep quality than the control (χ(2)=61.84, p<0.001).


Notwithstanding the placebo effect, this study supports music listening as an effective intervention for older adults to improve sleep quality. Not only does this process improve their sleeping quality at old age, it also individualizes and enhances the quality of care provided by the healthcare provider as the therapeutic relationship between provider and client is being established. Contemporary gerontology is progressively characterized by collaboration between several approaches with the intent to comprehend the mental aspects of the multifarious process of ageing. Music listening is one such avenue to enhance sleep quality amongst older adults and make an essential contribution to healthy ageing.


Music listening; Older adults; Sleep quality

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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