The following is a visitor-submitted question or story. For more, you can submit your own sleep story here, or browse the collection of experiences and questions other visitors have shared here.

Do children who sleep with soft music on all night or the light on have disturbed sleep patterns?

by Brad
(Tucson,AZ, USA)

My wife and I were discussing our 4 year old daughter's sleeping patterns. It seems she wakes up several times during the night, only to let us know that the "music has turned off". A friend mentioned that it might be the music that is keeping her from entering deep sleep. I tried to search "reputable" sites on the web but could not find any research that suggested music played all night long affects REM sleep.

On another note, her normal room light is left on all night. I have heard that this can cause problems too. Many sites suggested that there is more brain activity due to the bright light which may affect deep sleep.

Please let me know if there is any research that supports the idea of deep sleep being affected with having music playing all night long or the lights left on all night long.



Kevin: Hey Brad, thanks for writing in. I'm not aware myself of anything in the literature dealing with music causing problems, although I haven't ever sought it out. Intuition tells me that it wouldn't cause any problems inherently--there are many people who use background music to help them get to sleep. However, something that's important to remember is that sleep is a learned behavior. Powerful habits form from our sleep routine, sometimes in the shape of dependencies. If your daughter is very used to music being on while she's asleep, perhaps if her mind subconsciously notices that it is off when she is transitioning into a period of light sleep that is enough to wake her briefly. An interesting thing to note may be whether she wakes up as many times when the music plays throughout the night. What do you think?


Light on the other hand is a different story, and is known to have an affect on the biological clock if bright enough. Even through the eyelids the brain essentially takes signals of how light or dark it is outside to help determine when it should release sleep-inducing hormones. Sleeping with a bright enough light on could have an effect on this timing mechanism for your daughter.

It is in this vein that bright light is sometimes used as treatment for circadian rhythm shifts. For instance, Jamie Zeitzer, our new assistant professor at Stanford Sleep and Dreams, is currently in the preliminary stages of an experiment hoping to help high school students with early start times more sleep. The idea is to use bright light just before the student wakes up to get the brain in wake-up mode while shifting the biological clock backwards so the student is more easily able to fall asleep at 10 or 11 pm, rather than, say, midnight or 1.

Anyone have any other insights or specific research they could point Brad to?

Warmly,
Kevin

Comments for Do children who sleep with soft music on all night or the light on have disturbed sleep patterns?

Click here to add your own comments

Nov 24, 2012
Soft music all night long NEW
by: Anonymous

I am concerned about my grandson who, though sleeps all night without making a sound until he wakes up at 8.30 every day, he has a very soft baby music on all night. My.
concern is that the brain might no rest fully or cartain developments may not happening as it should. Would this affect him later on in life? He is only 20 months old.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Sleep Questions and Answers.




Enjoy this page? Please help us pay it forward to others who would find it valuable by Liking, Sharing, Tweeting, Stumbling, and/or Voting below.

About This Site

Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

In fact, we challenge you to do so! What do you say, are you up for the challenge?


A Note On Visitor-Submitted Questions:

Publishing sleep stories and questions from our visitors is meant to create a forum for open and proactive dialogue about an extremely important portion of our lives (one that occupies 1/3 of it and affects the other 2/3) that isn't talked about enough. It is not meant to substitute a trip to the doctor or the advice of a specialist. It's good to talk; it is not good to avoid consulting someone who's profession it is to help you with this kind of stuff.

If you are in any way concerned about your sleep health, don't wait for an answer on here, and don't necessarily rely on them. See a sleep specialist in your area as soon as possible.

More Questions:

Ask | Answer

The Stanford Sleep Book

Stanford Sleep Book Picture

Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.

In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.

Preface | Intro | Contents | Get A Copy

More Sleep Resources

The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

How This Site Was Made

In 2007 I discovered a guide to website building that would change my life. After learning from it diligently, it would eventually empower me to help Dr. Dement take his life's mission of spreading education about sleep health to the online world. Now, several years later, this site reaches over 100,000 visitors per month and counting.

The results are due in large part to the methods taught in that guide, and they are replicable for others who have knowledge of a subject they would like to share with the masses. I've detailed some of my journey here for those who might be interested.

Important Disclaimer

Please Note:

The information found on this page and throughout this site is intended for general information purposes only. While it may prove useful and empowering, it is NOT intended as a substitute for the expertise and judgments of healthcare practitioners.

For more info, see our
Terms of Use.