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 closer 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.
Before we tell you what the best sleep music is, could you answer the following questions and help us gather data?
The Best Relaxing Music for Sleep
Researchers 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.
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 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, 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, 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.
Popular Sleep Music Genres
Is there a specific genre that could be categorized as popular for falling asleep? What’s the “good music” to rest to?
When you hear the term “sleeping music,” chances are that classical music is likely the first thing that comes to mind. However, certain songs have a quick and rhythmic tempo, making it a challenge to feel relaxed.
That’s why you should pick something slower. For instance, songs and symphonies in which the piano is the predominantly used musical instrument are preferred.
Check out this YouTube mix.
The same thing goes for contemporary classical music, which is usually slow and flowy. There are no substantial ups and downs, and the sound doesn’t feel too energetic, making it an excellent option for your bedtime playlist.
Chill Out and Ambient
Chill-out music can be a mix of genres, including blues, jazz, and pop. The main idea behind these tunes is to generate an ambient environment in which you don’t overthink or dwell on the memories of the day.
Think of it this way: the only thing the sounds should make you do is stare aimlessly at the ceiling, contemplating an awesome night of deep sleep and relaxation.
Check out this YouTube mix.
As the name suggests, world music is known for encompassing a wide range of different styles. This broad category contains an eclectic mix of artists and song types.
If you are looking for something to help you go to bed, try to find soothing and neutral songs with minimal vocals.
Meditation Music and Nature Sounds
This is a popular go-to “sleeping” genre. Meditation melodies are specifically created with this purpose in mind – to help you fall into a state of relaxation. Similar to meditation playlists, nature sounds are soothing and should help you relax quickly.
Take a look at headspace.com for some guided mediation sessions.
More Health Benefits of Music
The great news is that in addition to improved rest, music may provide other benefits as well.
Music could minimize your risk of becoming sick. Research from 1998 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.
While certain songs can trigger happy memories, researchers wanted to see whether music could help those struggling with memory loss. In a study 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.
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 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, 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.
Can music change your brain?
Great music can improve our mood 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, 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.
When babies rest, 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:
-  “Releasing Stress Through the Power of Music”, University of Nevada
-  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.
-  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.
-  Carl J. Charnetski, Francis X. Brennan Jr, James F. Harrison, “Effect of Music and Auditory Stimuli on Secretory Immunoglobulin a (IGA)”, Sage Journals, 1998.
-  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.
-  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.
-  “Neuroscience Says Listening to This Song Reduces Anxiety by Up to 65 Percent”, INC Magazine
-  “Does Music Really Make Us Happy? How Certain Songs Can Impact Our Brain”, SCL Health
-  J A. Spencer, D J.Moran, A. Lee, D. Talbert, “White Noise and Sleep Induction”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 1990.
-  “Why Do Babies Wake Up At Night?”, Seattle Children’s Hospital, 2013.
Jill Zwarensteyn is the editor for Sleep Advisor and a certified sleep science coach. She 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.