The Benefits of Playing Music to Children at Bedtime

Anne Marie Oborn, Courtesy Church History Museum

Putting children to bed can be challenging time for any parent. Every family is different—some cherish complete silence at a child’s bedtime, while others enjoy singing, storytelling, or playing music for children. Various arguments can certainly be made for the many methods of soothing an infant or child to sleep, but here are some of the benefits of playing music for infants and children before bed.

Pain Reduction

In an experiment by Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, researchers played lullabies and children’s songs for 37 children who were patients at the hospital. The children’s heart rates and reported levels of pain were measured during music therapy, and they were compared to measurements taken when the children were read to or left alone. Researchers found that the measurements fell only during the music therapy. Professor Tim Griffiths, a neurologist, uses MRI scanners to look deep into the brain. “There’s a more ancient part of the brain in the limbic system, which is responsible for the emotional responses to music. What I think is happening here is that the emotional part of the brain is being stimulated by the music, more so than the reading stimulus, and this is decreasing the arousal level, and that in turn is affecting the pain response levels,” said Griffiths.

Sleep Quality

A study on the effects of background music and sleep quality found that children who listen to background music at naptime and bedtime had improved sleep quality. Another study concluded that “relaxing classical music is an effective intervention in reducing sleeping problems. Nurses could use this safe, cheap and easy to learn method to treat insomnia.”

Boost Brain Development

A Northwestern University study notes that the brain of a person who is sleeping soundly still listens and learns. The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends music experiences in early childhood because “through music, babies and toddlers can come to better understand themselves and their feelings, learn to decipher patterns and solve problems, and discover the world around them in rich, complex ways. Most important, sharing music experiences with the people they love makes very young children feel cherished and important.”

Check out some of these music videos the next time you want to help your child relax.