If you can’t fall sleep without a little sound, not to worry. When it comes to music, sound may actually improve your sleep. Studies show listening to soothing music before bed has the ability to lower anxiety and blood pressure, regulate breathing and heart rate, and relax your muscles. Read on for five ways to optimize your bedtime playlist, plus take a listen to our snooziest song picks.
Research out of the University of Toronto shows classical music can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Try Brahms, Handel and Mozart—their works are said to bring on slow brainwaves and encourage a meditative state.
If you’re not a fan of classical, there are other options, too: Jazz, Native American, Celtic, and Indian music are all sleep-friendly genres.
Quieter is better when it comes to bedtime tunes. If you think of volume on a 10 scale, click it down to 2 for best results before bed. Also beware of songs that change volume without warning, as some classical songs can—you don’t want a suddenly frenzied violin to startle you out of slumber.
Similar to the effects of holding a sleeping baby—with their slow, deep breathes—listening to slow, soft songs can help send you to sleepy town.
60 beats per minute is ideal for before-bed listening—a BPM in this range is thought to bring on alpha brainwaves, a sign of relaxation. Curious how your favorite song stacks up? Input the artist and song name at songbpm.com to find out.
Experts recommend listening to sleep-inducing music for 45 minutes to feel the full effects. Youtube and Spotify have tons of playlist options to choose from.
If you’re trying to drift off, say goodbye to verse-chorus-bridge repeat. Repetition causes the brain to stay alert (it’s programmed to seek out patterns), so songs with a non-repeating melody are best before bed.
Songs to Try
Marconi Union, Weightless British band Marconi Union worked with sound therapists to create an 8-minute sleep-inducer. With guitar, piano and sounds from nature, it’s a good example of how a slow, non-repeating melody can bring about Zzzs’s. Give it a listen here.
Beethoven, Romances for Violin and Orchestra These songs feature simple rhythms and straight forward melodies, making them akin to lullabies, according to Assistant Conductor of the Pittsburgh Theater Fawzi Haimor.
Bill Evans, Peace Piece Slow, thoughtful piano can unwind a restless mind.
Brian Eno, An Ending (Acent) This track’s warm echoes move slowly outward, gently coaxing you to sleep.