A randomized controlled trial of the effects of listening to non-commercial music on quality of nocturnal sleep and relaxation indices in patients in medical intensive care unit


Correspondence to H.-L. Lai: e-mail: snowjade@mail.tcu.edu.tw



The purpose was to examine the effects of non-commercial music on quality of sleep and relaxation indices, including heart rate, mean arterial pressure, and respiratory rate in patients in intensive care units.


There is currently insufficient scientific knowledge for the effects of music on quality of sleep in critically ill patients.


A randomized controlled trial.


Between January–December 2010, 28 patients aged 39–78 years were randomly assigned to music and control groups. Participants in the music groups listened to non-commercial music for 45 minutes at nocturnal sleep time. In the control group, participants slept with no music. Participants were assessed using vital signs monitors, standardized questionnaire, and polysomnography. Polysomnography sleep was recorded for the first 2 hours of the nocturnal sleep. General estimating equation was applied to analyse data.


Participants in the music group had shorter stage N2 sleep and longer stage N3 sleep in the first 2 hours of the nocturnal sleep and improved self-reported sleep quality, compared with those in the control group. The music group patients also had significantly lower heart rates than those in the control group. The intensive care units patients experienced fragmented sleep with a high frequency of awakenings and severe reduction in random eye movement sleep during the first 2 hours of the nocturnal sleep.


The findings provided evidence for nurses to use soothing music as a research-based nursing intervention for intensive care unit patients' sleep improvement.