Although much study still needs to be done on the science of dreaming, it is believed that dreams are the brain’s way of processing the day’s events, dealing with trauma, and are a crucial part of the sleep cycle.
Dreams were thought happen during the REM stage of sleep when Theta waves are present in the brain. However, some people with brain injuries that prevent them from reaching REM are still able to dream. Because of this, researchers are hypothesizing that even the most complex of dreams are really being formed during the hundreds of a second it takes to wake up from sleeping.
Music Therapy and Brainwaves
Ritual chanting and drumming can induce trance-like states. On the other end of the spectrum, loud music at rock concerts and clubs activate the pleasure centers of the brain. The way music and sound frequencies affect brainwaves has been used in Music Therapy to help a variety of patients from premature babies, to people with autism, insomnia, PTSD, and even chronic pain.
Interestingly, changes in heart rate and other measurable body responses are recorded when the music stops. This is because listening requires focus. When silence is introduced to the therapy, that’s when the brain and body is able to relax to reap the benefits.
Some sleep specialists are can create unique compositions tailored to your resonance. But even without equipment to measure your brain activity, you can still make customized playlists that can help you fall asleep and have more pleasant dreams.
You Personal Sleeping Playlist
Choose melodies that you associate with enjoyable memories and relaxation. You may use mediation tunes, traditional music native to your culture, or even classical and instrumental versions of songs you like. Songs with words can also be used but lyrics activate other parts of the brain which might keep you active and awake.
If you enjoy nature ambiance over musical compositions, choose sounds that you feel a personal connection to – some people find the beach peaceful and can choose loops that have crashing waves or whales singing. Others who find city noises comforting can choose sounds of cars driving by or random cafe gibberish.
Start with music you enjoy then slow down the pace and even set your music player to automatically turn down the volume as the music selection goes to a slower tempo to help you fall asleep in a few minutes.
Here’s where things get interesting.
Include upbeat and faster songs amidst your slow tempo ones. If you can doctor the music files in your computer, insert random 2 minute gaps of silence, and put in moments where the volume gets louder (but so much to jolt you awake) then down to a barely audible volume.
These changes shift the focus of your brain and may cause you to slightly wake up. You probably won’t even remember these moments of wakefulness which naturally occur during your sleep cycle already. In those milliseconds, the emotions and memories that you associate with your chosen music, will cause you to have dreams that are equally happy.
Give yourself time to adjust to your playlist but also experiment with it. Once you find a mix that works, keep using it in order to reap the cumulative benefits of music to always have beautiful, restful dreams.