Music, Pregnancy, and Sleep

Music moves people in many ways. And it appears to cause especially strong reactions in women who are pregnant.

According to an article on HealthDay, moms-to-be showed greater changes in blood pressure in response to music than other women.  They also had stronger feelings about the music they liked and the music they didn’t

Researchers in Germany played a series of 10- to 30-second clips of music to pregnant and non-pregnant women. In some cases, the researchers altered the music to make it less pleasant-sounding.

The expectant mothers rated the music as more intensely pleasant or unpleasant than those who weren’t pregnant.  They also showed much stronger blood pressure responses to the music.

It’s not clear why music has such a strong effect in pregnancy, but higher levels of estrogen may play a contributing role.

The hormone affects the brain’s reward system, which is responsible for the pleasant sensations experienced while listening to music.

And if you’ve been having trouble sleeping, listen up…lack of sleep may be more serious than previously thought.  In fact, regular, prolonged loss of sleep may cause a permanent loss of brain cells.

A new study looked at lab mice that were kept awake to replicate the kind of sleep loss common in modern life, through night shifts or long hours in the office.

In the mice, prolonged lack of sleep led to 25% of certain brain cells dying.  According to the study, if the same is true in humans, it may be futile to try to catch up on missed sleep.

Researchers say that in the future it may be possible to develop a drug to protect the brain from the side-effects of lost sleep.

I’m Dr. Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s music here.