Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), also known as hypersomnia, is a condition that affects many people worldwide. It’s characterised by persistent drowsiness and low energy levels during the day, even after what appears to be adequate nighttime rest. This condition can be caused by various sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, sleep apnoea, circadian rhythm sleep disorder, or idiopathic hypersomnia. EDS can also be a symptom of underlying conditions, such as depression, head trauma, or nutrient deficiencies. Stimulants or medications that affect the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine, such as modafinil and methylphenidate, are commonly used off-label to treat EDS. However, these medications may have side effects and are not suitable for everyone.
Research suggests that a new and innovative approach to treating EDS may lie in brain waves and classical music. The brain is a complex organ that generates a vast array of electrical voltages, commonly referred to as brain waves. These waves change throughout waking hours and have distinct rhythms during different stages of sleep. One type of brain wave, the beta frequency band, ranging from 12–35hz, is primarily associated with alertness, focus, anxiety, and energy. The alpha band, in the range of 8–12hz, induces a feeling of calmness and relaxation. Theta waves, ranging from 4–8hz, are associated with deep relaxation and inward concentration. Lastly, delta waves are sleep waves, ranging from 0.5–4hz.
Classical music, particularly compositions by Mozart and Beethoven, has been shown to balance disrupted brain waves, particularly those associated with anxiety and low energy levels. Listening to classical music can promote a feeling of calm and energy, improving focus and alertness during the day. This is particularly relevant for people with EDS, who may experience a range of emotional disturbances, including depression and anxiety.
Research has also shown that listening to classical music can help improve sleep quality, which is particularly relevant for those suffering from sleep disorders like EDS. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that listening to classical music before bedtime improved sleep quality in older adults with insomnia. Another study published in the journal PLOS One found that listening to relaxing music before bedtime improved sleep quality and reduced anxiety in patients with sleep disorders.
Incorporating classical music into one’s daily routine can be a simple yet effective way to manage the symptoms of EDS. It is recommended to listen to classical music for about 5–10 minutes after waking up each day. This method may help people with EDS feel fresh and alert, rather than high, as they go about their daily activities.
However, it is important to note that classical music should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment or therapy. If you suspect that you may have EDS, it is essential to consult with a medical professional and undergo proper diagnostic testing. Once you have received a diagnosis, you can work with your healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that may include a combination of medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, and alternative approaches such as listening to classical music.
In addition to listening to classical music, there are other lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms of EDS. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and engaging in regular exercise can all promote healthy sleep and energy levels. Cognitive behavioural therapy can also be an effective treatment for EDS, particularly when it is related to underlying mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Another alternative approach to managing EDS is the use of light therapy. Light therapy involves exposure to bright light for a specific period of time each day, typically in the morning. This therapy can help regulate circadian rhythms, improve sleep quality, and reduce symptoms of EDS. However, light therapy should only be used under the guidance of a medical professional, as excessive exposure to bright light can have negative effects on the eyes and skin.
Excessive daytime sleepiness is a serious condition that can significantly impact one’s quality of life. While there are currently no approved medications for its treatment, there are various lifestyle changes, alternative approaches, and medications that may help manage its symptoms. Listening to classical music, particularly Mozart’s compositions, can balance disrupted brain waves, improve sleep quality, and enhance overall well-being. However, it is important to note that classical music should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment or therapy, and anyone experiencing symptoms of EDS should consult with a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. With the right treatment plan, people with EDS can manage their symptoms and enjoy a more productive and fulfilling life.
Kenneth Zimmerman is a psychology graduate and mental health advocate.
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