New Indian research suggests that listening to yoga music before bedtime may be beneficial for heart health, as well as help reduce feelings of anxiety.
Carried out by researchers at HG SMS Hospital in Jaipur and presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress this week, the small-scale study set out to investigate how listening to soothing, meditative yoga music before bed could affect heart rate variability, which is the variation in time between each heartbeat.
The researchers recruited 149 healthy participants with an average age of 26 and asked them to take part in three different conditions on three separate nights: listening to yoga music before sleep, listening to pop music with steady beats before sleep, and no music or silence before sleep.
Heart rate variability was measured for five minutes before the music or silence started, for ten minutes during the music/silence, and again for five minutes after it had finished.
Participants’ anxiety levels and positive feelings were also assessed before and after each session.
Researchers found that heart rate variability increased during the yoga music, decreased during the pop music, and did not significantly change during the silence, suggesting that listening to yoga music could have a beneficial effect on the heart, as low heart rate variability is associated with a 32-45% higher risk of experiencing a first cardiovascular event.
Moreover, following a cardiovascular event, those with low heart rate variability also have a higher risk of experiencing further cardiovascular events and death.
The study also showed that anxiety levels fell significantly after the yoga music, rose significantly post pop music, and increased after the no-music session.
Participants also felt significantly more positive after the yoga music than they did after the pop music.
“We use music therapy in our hospital and in this study we showed that yoga music has a beneficial impact on heart rate variability before sleeping,” commented study author Dr Naresh Sen.
However, Sen also noted that holistic therapies such as music should be used as additional treatments and cannot replace evidence-based drugs and interventions.
“Science may have not always agreed, but Indians have long believed in the power of various therapies other than medicines as a mode of treatment for ailments.
“This is a small study, and more research is needed on the cardiovascular effects of music interventions offered by a trained music therapist. But listening to soothing music before bedtime is a cheap and easy to implement therapy that cannot cause harm.”