Pianos Might Be the Key For a Better Night’s Sleep

A new study helped people with nightmares

A different kind of sleep soundtrack.
Amir Doreh/Unsplash

Whether you view them as a mild irritant or a sign of unrest in your mental health, nightmares are never fun. Some can involve unsettling creatures, while others take the dreamer into a more subtle yet uncanny territory. (I had one over a decade ago that involved slugs that I’m unlikely to ever forget.) It all brings to mind a substantial question: is there a way to teach someone to stop having nightmares?

That isn’t just for general peace of mind. Someone with serious nightmares — for instance, nightmares generated by PTSD — might end up effectively sleep-deprived. That, in turn, can lead to additional ill effects on the body. All of that, then, makes a case for stopping nightmares as a means of preventative medicine.

And, according to a new study, a method involving a sound made by a piano — technically, a recording thereof — has been helping some patients work their way out of nightmares. At the Washington Post, Marlene Cimons has more details on the study, which took place at the Sleep Laboratory of the Geneva University Hospitals.

The patients in the study used imagery rehearsal therapy — a technique used to address pervasive nightmares — which was triggered by a piano chord. According to the results, the technique had a positive effect on all 36 participants, though only some of them could hear the sound while in the lab.

The effects of the treatment lasted several months, for some participants — offering doctors and scientists another method to help address events that trouble sleep.

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