Music therapy improves sleep quality in acute and chronic sleep disorders: a meta-analysis of 10 randomized studies

Int J Nurs Stud. 2014 Jan;51(1):51-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013.03.008. Epub 2013 Apr 9.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of music therapy for acute and chronic sleep disorders in adults.

Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources: A systematic search of publications in PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library without language restriction was performed.

Review methods: Studies with randomized controlled design and adult participants were included if music was applied in a passive way to improve sleep quality. Subgroup analysis was conducted to explore the sources of heterogeneity.

Results: Ten studies involving 557 participants were identified. The sleep quality was improved significantly by music (standard mean difference: -0.63; 95% CI: -0.92 to -0.34; p<0.001), with significant heterogeneity across studies. Subgroup analysis found heterogeneity between subgroups with objective or subjective assessing methods of sleep quality, and between subgroups with difference follow-up durations. No evidence of publication bias was observed.

Conclusion: Music can assist in improving sleep quality of patients with acute and chronic sleep disorders. For chronic sleep disorders, music showed a cumulative dose effect and a follow-up duration more than three weeks is necessary for assessing its efficacy.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Music; Sleep disorders; Sleep quality.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Music Therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*