The Effects of Presleep Slow Breathing and Music Listening on Polysomnographic Sleep Measures - a pilot trial

Sci Rep. 2020 May 4;10(1):7427. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-64218-7.


Knowledge on efficient ways to reduce presleep arousal and, therefore, improve sleep, is scanty. We explored the effects of presleep slow breathing and music listening conditions on sleep quality and EEG power spectral density in young adults in a randomized, controlled trial with a crossover design. Participants' (N = 20, 50% females) sleep was measured on two consecutive nights with polysomnography (40 nights), the other night serving as the control condition. The intervention condition was either a 30-minute slow breathing exercise or music listening (music by Max Richter: Sleep). The intervention and control conditions were placed in a random order. We measured heart rate variability prior to, during and after the intervention condition, and found that both interventions increased immediate heart rate variability. Music listening resulted in decreased N2 sleep, increased frontal beta1 power spectral density, and a trend towards increased N3 sleep was detected. In the slow breathing condition higher central delta power during N3 was observed. While some indices pointed to improved sleep quality in both intervention groups, neither condition had robust effects on sleep quality. These explorative findings warrant further replication in different populations.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception
  • Autonomic Nervous System
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Polysomnography*
  • Quality of Life
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Sleep Stages
  • Sleep, Slow-Wave
  • Young Adult