What’s The Best Relaxing Music For Sleeping?

Music has long been known to help ease the mind, soothe anxious thoughts, and get you to sleep quicker. Can it work as an all-natural sleeping aid, though?

Have you ever thought that there might be sound logic and reasoning behind lullabies? As it turns out, they might not just be for babies.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how music could help you sleep better, the best genres to listen to before bed, and other health benefits associated with music listening.

The Best Relaxing Music for Sleep

Researchers[1] have found that melodies that have 60 beats per minute allow the mind to synchronize with the beat. This, in turn, causes alpha brain waves, which they say are present when we are in a station of conscious relaxation. They add that in order to facilitate sleep, a person will likely need to listen to the music for at least 45 minutes.

Illustration of a Young Man Listening Music While Sleeping

They also found which music genres and instruments did the best job at reducing stress and fostering relaxation. They include Native American, Celtic, Indian-stringed instruments, drums, and flutes. They also learned that sounds of nature, thunder, and rain can be beneficial when paired with other genres such as jazz, classical, and easy listening.

Benefits of Listening To Melodies for Sleep

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Life’s worries can have a tendency to creep up at the most inopportune times, including bedtime. Tense thoughts can keep you up all hours of the night, and one of the ways music can help you sleep is by alleviating stress and allowing you to drift off to sleep.

A 2011 study[2] found that listening to music reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol in patients undergoing surgery.

Learn More: Effects of Listening to Music While Sleeping

Pain Relief

Illustration of a Woman Stuggling to Fall Asleep Alone

Pain, especially in widespread conditions such as Fibromyalgia, is also capable of preventing you from getting much-needed rest. However, research suggests that music may also minimize pain, and by doing so, help you sleep better.

In a 2013 study[3], researchers used music therapy for people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. They found that after four weeks of treatment, the participants reported a significant reduction in pain and depression.

More Health Benefits of Music

The great news is that in addition to improved rest, music may provide other benefits as well.

Immune System

Music could minimize your risk of becoming sick. Research from 1998[4] looked at music’s impact on immune health. The researchers examined how melodies affected levels of the IgA antibody and discovered that IgA increased among participants who listened to environmental music.

Improved Memory

While certain songs can trigger happy memories, researchers wanted to see whether music could help those struggling with memory loss. In a study[5] examining a group of dementia patients, singing and listening to music resulted in improved mood, orientation, and memory. They concluded that music could be beneficial for dementia care.

person relaxing on a pillow speaker

Better Exercise

Do you ever notice an extra pep in your step when you exercise while listening to music? According to research, those upbeat tunes can help you get a better workout. A 2009 study[6] found that motivational music led to higher endurance levels among participants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can music make you fall asleep in seconds?

We mentioned earlier that some researchers suggest you’d need to set aside as much as 45 minutes of listening to music in order to induce sleep. However, many folks don’t have that kind of time and may seek out more effective tunes that could help you fall asleep quicker.

During a study[7], neuroscientists in the U.K. found that the 8-minute song “Weightless” by Marconi Union led to a 65 percent reduction in overall anxiety among participants and a 35 percent drop in their physiological resting rates. In fact, the participants became so drowsy that they were advised to not listen to the song while driving.

Illustration of a Person Listening Music Before Bed

Can music change your brain?

Great music can improve our mood[8] in multiple ways. Research shows us that melodies can cause dopamine, a happy chemical, to release in the brain. Additionally, positive, uplifting tunes can help lift your spirits, while nostalgic songs can take you back to joyful times from your adolescence.

How does music affect an infant's sleep?

As mentioned above, soothing sounds and melodies can help babies sleep by relaxing them. Lullabies, in particular, are the most popular for helping babies fall asleep since they are specially created for young children. In addition to incorporating lullabies, new parents may also want to consider using white noise.

While in the womb, babies become used to white noise, and therefore, it’s something that’s familiar and calming for them. In a 1990 study[9], 80 percent of the babies in the participant group fell asleep within five minutes of listening to white noise. While helping your little one fall asleep is important, many parents are in search of ways to help their baby sleep longer, allowing mom and dad some extra time for shuteye as well.

white noise machine for babies

When babies rest[10], they will cycle through stages of deep and light sleep, and they can easily awaken during these transitions. However, the use of a white noise machine could help keep them relaxed and mask any noisy distractions that may wake them, potentially helping them sleep longer.

Where can I find a deep sleep playlist?

Both YouTube and Spotify are excellent sources for relaxation playlists. There are plenty of channels dedicated to calming melodies, and you just have to browse and find a perfect playlist for you.

Sources and References:

  • [1] “Releasing Stress Through the Power of Music”, University of Nevada
  • [2] Stefan Koelsch, Julian Fuermetz, Ulrich Sack, Katrin Bauer, Maximilian Hohenadel, Martin Wiegel, Udo X. Kaisers, Wolfgang Heinke, “Effects of Music Listening on Cortisol Levels and Propofol Consumption during Spinal Anesthesia”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2011.
  • [3] María Dolores Onieva-Zafra PhD, Adelaida María Castro-Sánchez PhD, Guillermo A. Matarán-Peñarrocha PhD, Carmen Moreno-Lorenzo PhD, “Effect of Music as Nursing Intervention for People Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia”, Science Direct, 2013.
  • [4] Carl J. Charnetski, Francis X. Brennan Jr, James F. Harrison, “Effect of Music and Auditory Stimuli on Secretory Immunoglobulin a (IGA)”, Sage Journals, 1998.
  • [5] Teppo Särkämö, Mari Tervaniemi, Sari Laitinen, Ava Numminen, Merja Kurki, Julene K. Johnson, Pekka Rantanen, “Cognitive, Emotional, and Social Benefits of Regular Musical Activities in Early Dementia: Randomized Controlled Study”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2013.
  • [6] Costas I. Karageorghis, Denis A.Mouzourides, David-Lee Priest, Tariq A. Sasso, Daley J. Morrish, Carolyn J. Walley, “Psychophysical and Ergogenic Effects of Synchronous Music During Treadmill Walking”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2009.
  • [7] “Neuroscience Says Listening to This Song Reduces Anxiety by Up to 65 Percent”, INC Magazine
  • [8] “Does Music Really Make Us Happy? How Certain Songs Can Impact Our Brain”, SCL Health
  • [9] J A. Spencer, D J.Moran, A. Lee, D. Talbert, “White Noise and Sleep Induction”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 1990.
  • [10] “Why Do Babies Wake Up At Night?”, Seattle Children’s Hospital, 2013.
Content Writer | + posts

Jill Zwarensteyn is a content writer for Sleep Advisor and is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.

She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.

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