Effects of music on depression and sleep quality in elderly people: A randomised controlled trial

Moon Fai Chan, Engle Angela Chan, Esther Mok

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To determine the effect of music on sleep quality in elderly people. In addition, we aimed to examine if there were effects on vital signs and depression levels. Background: Sleep disturbances and depression are common in older people, and their impacts on this group, along with its conventional treatment, merit our attention as our population ages. Conventional pharmacological methods might result dependence and impairment in psychomotor and cognitive functioning. Listening to music, which is a non-pharmacological method, might reduce depression and promote sleep quality. Design: A randomised controlled study was conducted during the period December 2006 to January 2007. Setting: At participants' homes in Hong Kong. Participants: In total, 42 elderly people (21 using music and 21 controls) completed the study after being recruited in one community services centre. Intervention: Participants listened to their choice of music for 30. min per week, for 4 weeks. Main outcome measures: Blood pressure, heart rate, depression levels and sleep quality variables were collected once a week for 4 weeks. Results: In the experimental group, there were statistically significant reductions in geriatric depression scores and sleep quality at week 4. In the control group, there were no statistically significant reductions in depression and improvement of sleep quality over the 4 weeks. However, for all the outcome measures, no significant differences were found between groups over the 4 weeks. Conclusions: The findings contribute to knowledge about the effectiveness of soft slow music used as an intervention to improve depression and sleep quality in elderly people. Whilst there were no statistical differences between groups, there was some indication that music yielder higher improvement on some of the parameters, which are worthy of further investigation in larger trials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-159
Number of pages10
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010


  • Depression
  • Elderly people
  • Music intervention
  • Sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Advanced and Specialised Nursing


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