Insomnia in depression is common and difficult to resolve. Unresolved depression-related sleep disturbances increase risk of relapse at high costs for individuals and society. Trials have suggested music for insomnia in various populations, but there is little research on the effectiveness of music for depression-related insomnia.
We examined the efficacy of a music intervention on insomnia, depression symptoms and quality of life in adults with depression-related insomnia. A two-armed randomized controlled trial was conducted, including depression outpatients with insomnia (n = 112) in a 1:1 ratio to music intervention and waitlist control group. The intervention group listened to music at bedtime for 4 weeks. Participants received treatment as usual during 8 weeks with assessments at baseline, at 4 and 8 weeks. The primary outcome measure was Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), secondary outcomes comprised Actigraphy, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17) and World Health Organisation well-being questionnaires (WHO-5, WHOQOL-BREF).
The music intervention group experienced significant improvements in sleep quality and well-being at 4 weeks according to global PSQI scores (effect size = −2.1, 95%CI −3.3; −0.9) and WHO-5 scores (effect size 8.4, 95%CI 2.7;14.0). At 8 weeks, i.e. 4 weeks after termination of the music intervention, the improvement in global PSQI scores had decreased (effect size = −0.1, 95%CI −1.3; 1.1). Actigraphy sleep assessments showed no changes and there was no detection of change in depression symptoms.
Music intervention is suggested as a safe and moderately effective sleep aid in depression-related insomnia. Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov. ID NCT03676491