Posted on Oct 20, 2020, 4 p.m.
According to a recent study, listening to yoga music at bedtime may be good for the heart by enhancing the heart variability in beat to beat distances; findings from the study were presented at the ESC Congress.
“We use music therapy in our hospital and in this study we showed that yoga music has a beneficial impact on heart rate variability before sleeping,” said Dr. Naresh Sen, study author, Consultant Cardiologist at HG SMS Hospital, Jaipur, India.
Previous research shows that music can reduce anxiety in those with heart disease, but studies on the effects of the music on the hearts of patients and healthy individuals have yielded inconsistent results.
Enhancing heart variability in beat to beat distance makes the heart pump and pulse with fractal fluctuations, and the more flexible it is the more healthier you are. The heart rate changes as a normal response to being in rest and digest or fight or flight mode, these states are regulated by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and together they comprise the autonomic nervous system. High heart rate variability shows the heart is adaptive to these changes, and low heart rate variability indicated a less adaptive autonomic nervous system.
Low heart rate variability is associated with a 32-45% increased risk of a first cardiovascular event, following an event those with low heart rate variability have an increased risk of subsequent events and death. When the autonomic nervous system fails to adapt this can trigger inflammation that is linked to cardiovascular disease, and those with low heart rate variability may already have subclinical cardiovascular disease.
This study investigated the impact of listening to yoga music before bedtime on heart rate variability in 148 healthy participants with an average age of 26 years old during separate nights in three sessions: one involved listening to yoga music before sleep, another involved listening to pop music with steady beats before sleep, and the other involved listening to silence or no music before going to sleep at night. Heart rate variability was measured for 5 minutes before the music or silence started, for 10 minutes during the music or silence, and for 5 minutes after the session stopping at each session. Anxiety levels were assessed before/after each session using the Goldberg Anxiety Scale; and the level of positive feelings were subjectively measured after each session using a visual analogue scale.
Heart rate variability was found to increase with sessions using yoga music, decreased with the sessions using pop music, and no significant changes were observed with the sessions using silence. After the session using the yoga music anxiety levels decreased significantly, increased after the sessions with pop music, and increased after the sessions with silence. Participants reported feeling more positive after the session with yoga music than they did after the session with pop music.
The arrangements of the heartbeats can have a significant impact on the brain and psyche, the more you entrain the heart to a coherent breath and feelings of joy, love and gratitude the more your brain will let go of anxiety and feelings of negativity which can impact sleep. These findings suggest a positive effect after listening to yoga music over silence before going to bed.
Dr. Sen noted that such holistic therapies should not replace evidence-based drugs and interventions, rather they should be used in addition to. "Science may have not always agreed, but Indians have long believed in the power of various therapies other than medicines as a mode of treatment for ailments. This is a small study, and more research is needed on the cardiovascular effects of music interventions offered by a trained music therapist. But listening to soothing music before bedtime is a cheap and easy to implement therapy that cannot cause harm,” said Sen.
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