After searching “music for deep sleep” in Google, you’ll get over 270 million results! You’ll find countless playlists and YouTube videos promising better sleep, but does it really work?
Can music make you fall asleep faster and have a more restful, deep sleep, or is it the placebo effect?
Well, the research is in, and the verdict shows that yes, sleep can help you sleep. The therapeutic effects of music are very real! Several studies have found that music has a significant impact on our bodies. It can address emotional, physical, and cognitive needs and is used in hospitals and psychiatric facilities. It’s not just any music that has this effect, though. Taylor Swift’s latest album may have “great vibes,” but it probably won’t get you into a state of deep sleep.
According to sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, music with a slow beat can make you fall asleep. Research has found that music at roughly 60 beats per minute (BPM) has the most significant effect on our brain. “As you are falling asleep, your heart rate begins to slow and starts to move toward that 60 beats per minute range”, says Breus. Like a metronome, the music tunes your body, slowing it into a sleepy state. Music in this range helps us sleep by synchronizing with our brain causing alpha brainwaves.
Music also impacts hormone levels. Hormones play a significant role in sleep. When you are stressed, you have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes alertness and trouble sleeping. When you listen to relaxing music, it can decrease cortisol levels and release dopamine. Dopamine will help you relax, reduce pain and help you sleep.
For light sleepers, night-time noises can reduce sleep efficiency and prevent them from reaching a state of deep sleep. Having music playing while you are sleeping will mitigate the issues that may interfere with sleep or wake you up in the night.
There is no question that many people believe music helps them sleep - just look at the millions of views on sleep music videos online! There is also plenty of scientific research to back it up.
The Evidence Behind Sleep-Inducing Music
An analysis of music and sleep studies looked at ten reputable studies, concluding that music can help with sleep problems. Another study published in the Journal of Music Therapy took a group of undergraduates (43 female, 44 male) and put them in a stress-inducing situation. At the same time, these undergrads prepared for an oral presentation. No one likes public speaking, so their stress levels were high! The researchers wanted to see if they could reduce their stress through relaxing music. The students either listened to soothing music or silence, and the researchers measured their stress levels. The researchers measured their salivary IgA, cortisol levels, heart rate, and blood pressure. The results showed that listening to relaxing music reduced their anxiety the most.
Music can help people of all ages. Any parent will tell you this as they know how lullabies can help their babies fall asleep. Research can help premature infants, elementary school children, and adults sleep better. One study had a group of adults listen to 45 minutes of relaxing music before going to sleep. After just one night of listening to relaxing music, they reported better sleep quality and feeling more refreshed in the morning.
Women are more prone to sleep troubles, and there is plenty of evidence that shows music can help women who experience insomnia. One study, in particular, had women with insomnia play a self-selected album before getting into bed for ten consecutive nights. Before the study began, the time it took them to fall asleep each night was measured and was measured again following the ten days. The results found that music significantly reduced the time it took them to fall asleep. Before listening to music, the average time to fall asleep was 27 to 69 minutes. After incorporating music into their bedtime routine, it only took 6 to 13 minutes to fall asleep!
The Best Music For Sleep
For music to be considered relaxing from a scientific perspective, it must not only be 60 BPM but have strategic gaps and be void of rhythmic patterns. Sound therapists and researchers have looked for the most relaxing songs and found the following tunes to be the most relaxing and sleep-inducing:
Weightless by Marconi Union
This song has been dubbed the most relaxing song ever created! It was produced in collaboration with sound therapists. Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson at Mindlab International confirmed it. When tested, he and his fellow researchers found that this song could reduce anxiety by 65%! You can listen to this soothing instrumental piece on Spotify, but there is a 10-hour version available on YouTube if you want to listen all night.
Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel
Not only does this song sound elegant and tranquil, but it will calm the mind with its 52 BPM. It is a slower version of Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra and can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.
Watermark by Enya
Enya is a popular choice for yoga, meditation, and sleep. This song watermark is believed to be one of the most relaxing songs ever. It is instrumental, building just slightly before slowing again at the end. The entire album is a wonderful option to put on before bed. You can stream this song on Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube.
Electra by Airstream
Another criteria for music to help you sleep is for there to be a lack of repetition. When you listen to music, your brain tries to find a repetitive melody, trying to predict a tempo and pattern. The melody isn’t predictable in this song, so your brain will stop trying to find the patterns and relax. It is different from the other songs, falling into the synth genre. You’ll find this song on SoundCloud, YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon Music.
Someone Like You by Adele
If you prefer lyrical music, this song meets the mark for sleep-inducing. It is 67 BPM and will have a relaxing effect. Spotify conducted their own research and found that you can reduce blood pressure and heart rate by listening to this song. They named it the best song to listen to if you are a nervous flyer because of its relaxing effect.
We Can Fly by Café Del Mar
This song combines the soothing sounds of nature and instrumentals. You can drift away to sleep listening to ocean sounds, subtle waves, synth, and instrumentals. It meets the criteria because it doesn’t have a predictable melody. With over 1 million views on YouTube, it is a popular choice for bedtime tunes.
Listening to Music for Sleep: The Right Way vs. The Wrong Way
Listening to music for better sleep may sound simple enough, but specific considerations should be made. If you don’t want others to hear your music, you may be tempted to wear headphones or earbuds, but this won’t have the same effect. It will quickly become uncomfortable and can even damage your ear canal, which will wake you up. If you want to keep the music low, you can opt for pillow speakers instead. Just as they sound, they slide into your pillowcase or are placed under your millet pillow. This is much more comfortable and will allow you to listen to music comfortably.
For an enhanced relaxing experience, pair with lavender by using a lavender pillow. This is an experience for all the senses as you will benefit from the sleep-inducing scent of lavender, the sound of relaxing music, and the comfort of your buckwheat hulls pillow.
Alternatively, if you sleep alone or your partner wants to enjoy the music as well, you can play it directly from your phone. Just be sure to turn off notifications and turn your phone over so the light won’t disturb you.
You will benefits are increased when you do listen to music consistently. Research has shown that when music becomes a regular part of your bedtime routine, your body will start getting into sleep mode much faster. Upon hearing the relaxing music, it will cue your brain that it’s time for sleep!
Lastly, ensure only your sleep playlist or song will play. You don’t want to be startled awake by a loud commercial, ACDC playlist, or a song that triggers certain emotions. You can adjust this in your settings or by using a specific app like Headspace.
Music is powerful. It can trigger emotions, change your energy levels and help you fall asleep. Our senses play a significant role in our well-being and can help us reach deeper levels of sleep or make us feel alert. For a phenomenal rest, level up your bedtime routine. The next time you lay on your lavender pillow, put on some instrumental lullabies, and you will be sleeping like a baby!