Music-assisted relaxation to improve sleep quality: meta-analysis

J Adv Nurs. 2009 Jul;65(7):1356-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.04982.x. Epub 2009 Apr 28.


Aim: This paper is a report of a meta-analysis conducted to evaluate the efficacy of music-assisted relaxation for sleep quality in adults and elders with sleep complaints with or without a co-morbid medical condition.

Background: Clinical studies have shown that music can influence treatment outcome in a positive and beneficial way. Music holds the promise of counteracting psychological presleep arousal and thus improving the preconditions for sleep.

Data sources: We conducted a search in the Embase (1997 - July 2008), Medline (1950 - July 2008), Cochrane (2000 - July 2008), Psychinfo (1987 - July 2008) and Cinahl (1982 - July 2008) databases for randomized controlled trials reported in English, German, French and Dutch. The outcome measure of interest was sleep quality.

Methods: Data were extracted from the included studies using predefined data fields. The researchers independently assessed the quality of the trials using the Delphi list. Only studies with a score of 5 points or higher were included. A pooled analysis was performed based on a fixed effect model.

Results: Five randomized controlled trials with six treatment conditions and a total of 170 participants in intervention groups and 138 controls met our inclusion criteria. Music-assisted relaxation had a moderate effect on the sleep quality of patients with sleep complaints (standardized mean difference, -0.74; 95% CI: -0.96, -0.46). Subgroup analysis revealed no statistically significant contribution of accompanying measures.

Conclusion: Music-assisted relaxation can be used without intensive investment in training and materials and is therefore cheap, easily available and can be used by nurses to promote music-assisted relaxation to improve sleep quality.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music Therapy*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult