Comparing Auditory Stimuli for Sleep Enhancement: Mimicking a Sleeping Situation
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Recently, two research groups have reported that the depth and/or duration of Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) can be increased by playing short sounds with approximately 1 second intervals during or prior to SWS. These studies have used sounds with neutral or negative valence: sinusoidal I -kHz tones or short pink noise bursts. Since music therapy research shows beneficial effects of pleasant, natural sounds and music, the sounds in the experiments may have been suboptimal. Thus, we aimed at choosing optimal sounds such that they could be used in increasing the depth or duration of SWS taking into account both the need of fast rise times, short duration, and pleasantness. Here we report results of a listening test mimicking a sleeping situation in which the subjects compared how pleasant, relaxing, and image-evoking they found 3 natural, short instrument sounds with fast rise times compared to a short pink noise burst used in the previous experiments. The natural sounds were selected from our previous listening test as the most pleasant ones. The results will be used as the basis for choosing the optimal sounds for the sleep studies.