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Classical Music Therapy
By Dr. Neil Nedley

            Music therapy to improve mood and mental function is not a new practice. Thousands of years ago King Saul had a problem with depression. It even got in the way of his ability to function as king. His physician advisors recommended, "Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shall be well."

            The historical record goes on to say, “And it came to pass, when the evil Spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so -Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.”

            Facts about the benefits of music in combating mental disorders are cited in Figure 6.

Music theraphy facts
             Note in the figure that mental disorders are strongly linked to insomnia. In this study, a sleep problem that continued for at least one year was defined as insomnia. The risk of new major depression was extremely high—a whopping 40 times more likely in those with chronic insomnia than those who typically get a good night's sleep. But notice that even among those experiencing a temporary bout with sleeplessness there was a 60 percent greater likelihood that they would also fall prey to a depressive episode.

             An even greater percent of those with hypersomnia (excessive sleep) developed a mental disorder compared with 16 percent of those with normal sleeping habits.

             It has also been discovered that women are about 30 percent more likely to be insomniacs than men, and the prevalence of problems with sleep increases as people age.  In older adults, insomnia not only contributes to depression but also to memory impairment.

             According to Dr. Peter Hauri and his colleagues at the Mayo Sleep Disorders Center, being physically fit can prevent spasmodic sleep. People who exercise fall asleep more easily, awaken less during the night, and sleep more efficiently than those who do not.  This may be associated with what is called circadian cycling, which is explained in Chapter 3. An increased metabolism, faster heart rate, and elevated body temperature are associated with poor sleep.

             Initially, exercise increases the metabolism, but a few hours after com­pleting the exercise session the body temperature and metabolism drop to a lower level than if the person had not exercised. This is why exercise just before retiring .should be avoided, especially if it is possible to exercise in the late afternoon or early evening, which helps to induce sleep. The form of exercise can be as simple as a brisk walk several times around the block. Exercising outdoors in sunshine is advisable whenever possible.

             One factor in the inability to sleep well is that as we get older there is a steady, sharp decline in the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps induce sleep. The decline begins before age 10 and continues through age 70, at which time it is reduced to only about two percent of the amount that a youth produces.

             This decline is partly due to lifestyle practices that interfere with the production of this important sleep aid. Some people make the mistake of staying up late with the idea of getting tired enough to fall asleep more easily, but exposure to artificial light when burning the midnight oil actually interferes with melatonin production. Failing to get adequate sunlight during waking hours may also diminish melatonin production. For more information on this subject, see the chapter entitled "Melatonin" in the book Proof Positive.

             Nicotine withdrawal makes sleeping difficult for many individuals, but this should last only two to three weeks after quitting smoking. Sleeping and waking at irregular times may cause insomnia in some people. Others may use stimulants such as coffee or other caffeine drinks to stay awake during the day, and alcohol to later fall asleep, but these artificial means of encouraging alertness or sleep have been found to compound the problem.

             A host of medications can also cause insomnia. Just about any medication that has an effect on the brain can cause or aggravate insomnia in some people. This list includes anti-anxiety, antidepressants, anti-seizure, stimulants, and anti-psychotic medications.

           Many other medications that are not designed to affect the mind can cause insomnia. This list would include certain antibiotics such as Cipro® and Floxin, ® hormones such as Prednisone, ® breathing medications such as theoiphylline, antihist-amines, and many other drugs.

            Eating just before retiring or eating a heavy meal in the evening often contributes to heartburn or acid reflux, and insomnia can result. Simply going to bed with a full stomach will cause less than a restful night. When the evening meal is eaten three to four hours before retiring, digestion will usually be completed, and superior, more efficient rest will be experienced.

            Insomnia will improve when the order of meals is reversed, shifting the bulk of the day’s calories to the breakfast and lunch meals, and choosing light and easily digested foods for the evening meal. A simple fruit meal is an excellent choice for the third meal, for some individuals, cutting out the evening meal altogether may prove to be a very helpful sleep aid. If there is a feeling of hunger, try drinking 8 to 12 ounces of cool water.    

           With the stomach resting through the night, both mind and body will be more rested in the morning.

           When a person is stressed and over-committed with a full schedule of activity until just before bedtime, it is difficult to fall asleep and sleep well. Often excessive stress and pressure are self-imposed, and are driven by feelings of insecurity and inferiority. In this case, a healthy spiritual focus is often what is needed, although it may not be as simple as “counting your blessings instead of sheep.” Personal issues may need to be examined in the light of God's love and care for us, which may be accomplished through personal study or counseling. Chapter 8 elaborates on this subject. When individuals develop a healthier perspective, reprioritize duties, relax, and experience inner peace, they usually fall asleep more easily.

            It is interesting that a workaholic may have difficulty sleeping, but an inactive and bored person can have the same problem. It is true that anxiety and hyperactivity make it difficult to fall asleep. But on the other end of the spectrum, boredom, such as is often experienced following retirement, may also result in nights of "tossing and turning." Taking up a new hobby or volunteering for a church ministry or a service organization may help restore a sense of worth and purpose. Filling the day with interesting and profitable activities can also combat deep disorders.

            Sometimes a very simple adjustment can be helpful in relieving insomnia, such as creating a dark, quiet room, and being as still as possible after going to bed. Eliminating the clock in the bedroom to avoid focusing on how long the time of wakefulness may be helpful. This may not be practical for those with time-sensitive commitments, but if feasible, may prove to be beneficial.

            Another means of inducing sleep is to engage in a calming activity such as reading spiritual material or listening to soothing music for 15 to 30 minutes before retiring. A season of prayer, though certainly not recommended solely for the purpose of inducing sleep, may also have a calming effect. These activities will not only be relaxing, but may help by providing a distraction from trying intently to fall asleep. A summary of the sleep aids mentioned in this section is listed in Figure 8.
Summary of Suggested Sleep Aids             Sleep disturbances can be either a cause or a result of depression. In either case, treating the sleep disorder is a key to pre­venting depression. Several lifestyle measures that may ensure a good night's rest also offer other health benefits as well, including weight loss and increased energy. Improved sleep habits in combination with these other enhancements to overall health could be powerful aids in relieving depression.

DepressionFrom the book
Depression, the Way Out,
Nedley  Publishing, Ardmore, OK, 2001


Neil Nedley, M.D.,
Nedley Health Solutions
P. O. Box 1565
Ardmore, OK 73402

Toll-free: 1-888-778-4445
Phone: 1-580-226-8007
Fax: 1-580-223-2645