• music;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • older people;
  • Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index;
  • sleep

Aim.  To determine the effect of music on sleep quality in older people.

Background.  Sleep disturbance is common in older people and its impacts on older adults along with its conventional treatment merit our attention as our population ages. Conventional pharmacological method might result dependence and impairment in psychomotor and cognitive function. Listening to music, which is a non-pharmacological method, might promote relaxation, induce distraction responses and promote sleep quality.

Design.  A randomised controlled study.

Methods.  The study was conducted from December 2006–January 2007. Forty-two older people (21 using music and 21 controls) completed the study in Hong Kong. Physiological (blood pressure and heart rate) and sleep quality variables were collected once a week for one month.

Results.  For all vital signs’ results, no significant differences were found between both music and control groups within the four weeks. In the music group, there was statistically significant reduction in sleep scores at week 4. In control group, there was no statistically significant improvement of sleep scores in the four weeks. However, no significant difference was found between groups over the four weeks.

Conclusion.  Whilst there were no statistical differences between groups, there was some indication that music yielder higher improvement on sleep scores, which are worthier of further investigation in larger trials.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The implication of this study is that music listening can help nurses build therapeutic relationships with older people. Nurses are recommended to use music as part of their holistic caring for older people.