Lis­ten­ing to mu­sic can help with sleep

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - NEWS -

For teens, does wear­ing head­phones with mu­sic play­ing while sleep­ing af­fect the qual­ity of their sleep? Also, does lis­ten­ing to mu­sic while study­ing im­pact the qual­ity of study­ing? --

The ef­fect of mu­sic on sleep has been stud­ied sev­eral times, but most stud­ies have looked at clas­si­cal or sooth­ing mu­sic. In most of the tri­als I read, mu­sic at bed­time im­proved the qual­ity and du­ra­tion of sleep. If your teens are any­thing like my teens were, how­ever, clas­si­cal or soft mu­sic is un­likely to be their choice. Also, the tri­als did not ex­am­ine the ef­fect of head­phones, which may al­ter the dif­fer­ent head po­si­tions peo­ple use when fall­ing asleep.

As far as the study­ing ques­tion goes, there clearly are dif­fer­ences among peo­ple. How­ever, in sev­eral stud­ies that in­cluded school-aged chil­dren, ado­les­cents and young adults, study­ing in si­lence led to bet­ter read­ing com­pre­hen­sion com­pared with a noisy room, highly arous­ing mu­sic (such as heavy metal) or less arous­ing mu­sic (pop vo­cal mu­sic).

How­ever, those lis­ten­ing to "low arousal" mu­sic had bet­ter scores than those lis­ten­ing to noise. Peo­ple lis­ten­ing to highly arous­ing mu­sic scored worst in read­ing com­pre­hen­sion and re­ac­tion time.

Many peo­ple feel they study best with mu­sic. Some re­searchers have found that mu­sic that is well-known and doesn't de­mand much at­ten­tion is least likely to in­ter­fere with learn­ing.

In giv­ing good ad­vice about drink­ing al­co­hol, you never men­tion it caus­ing dam­aged brain cells. A neu­rol­o­gist once told me that a brain scan of an al­co­holic pa­tient showed the rav­ages of al­co­hol. He granted that even much less drink­ing would cause some dam­age. When I asked him about the two mar­ti­nis he had rou­tinely be­fore din­ner, he shrugged. He died at 73, prob­a­bly due to his genes. I wouldn't try to con­nect al­co­hol to cause of death, only the sharp­ness of one's brain till the end.

A very re­cent study just looked at the ef­fect of mod­er­ate drink­ing on brain out­comes. They looked at changes on the brain scans in spe­cific ar­eas of the brain. They found that drink­ing even mod­er­ate amounts -eight stan­dard drinks per week -- in­creased the like­li­hood of brain at­ro­phy (in the U.S., a "stan­dard drink" is 14 grams of al­co­hol, about what is in 12 ounces of most beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a stan­dard "shot" of dis­tilled spir­its).

Peo­ple who drank less al­co­hol had a non­signif­i­cant amount of at­ro­phy (but did not have any de­gree of pro­tec­tion). The study had flaws, re­ly­ing on self-re­port­ing, and had a rel­a­tively small sam­ple group; how­ever, the re­sults cer­tainly are plau­si­ble.

In ad­di­tion, the more al­co­hol peo­ple drank, the more likely they were to have rapid de­cline in their cog­ni­tive abil­ity.

There were fewer women in the study, and re­searchers could not make mean­ing­ful com­ments about men ver­sus women; how­ever, be­cause of men and women's av­er­age size, as well as the rel­a­tive size and ac­tiv­ity of the liver, it would be ex­pected that women might have a greater ef­fect for the same amount of al­co­hol.

Based on this study, I agree with the neu­rol­o­gist you spoke to. Even mod­er­ate amounts of al­co­hol may ad­versely af­fect the brain as we age. This new in­for­ma­tion should be con­sid­ered in fu­ture guide­lines on al­co­hol use.

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