Throughout all of human history, music has played an important role in the development of our society as a whole. Music can represent entire decades, movements, activities, and much more. You might find yourself listening to music while you work, clean, or exercise, but did you know music can also help you fall asleep? In this article, we’ll be exploring the best music to fall fast asleep to, as well as songs and sounds that can promote relaxation, and lead to reducing stress overall when in bed.
Why does Music Help with Sleep?
If you’ve ever found yourself dealing with a crying baby, you may have tried employing the soothing sounds of a lullaby. Oddly enough, researchers found through a study at Stanford University that “lullabies” could be equally effective for adults.
Published in 2006, the study suggests that "rhythmic music may change brain function and treat a range of neurological conditions”. In short, relaxing music is essentially helping in slowing down brain waves, often resulting in physiological changes, such as slower heart rate, and has a largely soothing effect.
Of course, listening to upbeat music has the reverse effect, so listening to loud rock tunes, or poppy Taylor Swift hits right before bedtime is not ideal. That’s why it is essential to create a sleep soundtrack that is relaxing, and creates a soothing effect for an ideal sleep environment.
Benefits of Listening to Music to Fall Asleep
Countless studies have found that listening to music while falling asleep can aid in staying asleep, as well as naturally improve chronic sleep disorders, such as insomnia. Even if you’re not struggling with a sleep disorder, listening to music can improve anyone’s sleep quality in a number of ways.
It Relaxes You
Research shows that certain songs or beats in the 60 beats per minute range allow the mind to synchronize with the beat. This creates alpha brain waves that lead to relaxation throughout the entire mind and body.
It Helps Reduce Stress
Listening to sleep music at bedtime helps you unwind and clear your mind, resulting in an overall relaxing effect that naturally reduces stress and anxiety to help you improve your sleep quality. Improved sleep quality results in more energy and calm throughout the day, which tends to lead to more stress-free waking hours.
It May Help Reduce Pain
By improving your sleep quality and reducing overall stress, listening to peaceful music can have a relaxing effect on not only your mind, but your muscles. For example, if you’re experiencing pain and soreness after exercise, remember that muscle tissue repairs itself during sleep; therefore, improved quality of sleep will aid in relieving workout recovery pain.
It May Boost Your Immune System
A study published in 2011 showed reduced cortisol, commonly referred to as the “stress hormone” in adults undergoing surgery. These incredible effects indicate improvements in additional areas such as your immune system and your body’s natural healing ability.
It May Improve Your Memory
Chronic sleep disorders have often been linked to issues with mood and memory. By listening to relaxing music at night, and improving your sleep quality, your mind will have more time to properly rest. Good sleep quality is imperative for keeping a sharp mind and memory, therefore listening to music to fall asleep can help in this regard.
It Improves Exercise
It has been stated time and time again that good sleep quality is essential to fitness. Sleep aids in muscle recovery, and recovery is essential when exercising. By listening to relaxing music or sound that aids in your sleep hygiene, you’ll be improving your exercise ability as well.
It Helps with Insomnia
Insomnia is typically regarded as one of the most persistent sleep disorders in the country. Oftentimes, when you lay down to go to sleep at night, your mind fills with anxiety-ridden thoughts that make it impossible to unwind.
Listening to music or relaxing sounds can be extremely helpful in quieting the mind, helping you achieve a sense of calm that can lead to both falling asleep faster, as well as staying asleep throughout the night.
Types of Music to Fall Asleep To
While there are countless genres of sleep music available on streaming services, such as Spotify, it’s important to find the best music to listen to to drift off to sleep for you personally. There are many kinds of sleep music, sounds, and playlists designed specifically to aid with sleep.
Take your time exploring different types of sleep music until you find what works best for you.
Calm, classical music is a great option for relaxing sleep music. Make sure when choosing classic music that is even paced, and helps you feel relaxed. Keep an eye out for contemporary classical music playlists to listen to that are designed for sleep.
Instrumental music has recently risen in popularity, frequently being utilized as a study aid. Explore YouTube channels or playlists with title tracks such as “lo-fi beats to chill or sleep to”. Keep an eye out for peaceful-looking cover art. These soothing music playlists are designed to aid in both sleep and focus.
In addition to instrumental playlists designed for relaxation and sleep, there are quite a number of meditation playlists designed to achieve the same relaxing effect. Some meditation music utilizes certain sound waves to create a sense of calm, while other meditation music could include a soothing voice over that gently guides you through the steps of relaxing. Sometimes, you’ll find classical music weaved into mediation. You can choose whatever works best for you.
Music Infused with Animal Sounds (Ex: Cicadas, Owls, Loons, Frogs)
Are you a nature buff, or someone who tends to sleep best in the great outdoors? You might find that music infused with rhythmic animal sounds such as crickets chirping or gently croaking frogs lulls you into a deep sleep.
Music Infused with Nature Sounds (Example: Rain, Ocean Waves, Wind, Babbling Brook)
If you are someone who finds peace when you’re kicking back on the beach, music infused with the sounds of ocean waves may be the ideal soundtrack to get you sleeping better. With a quick search on Spotify, you can find hours of relaxing music blended with the sounds of the falling rain or gentle wind, leaving you with a restful night.
Other Types of Sounds to Fall Asleep To
If you find that you’ve listened to countless Spotify playlists and nothing seems to be helping you sleep at night, there are a variety of other sounds that may better aid in your personal sleep quality.
White noise is typically described as a steady, continuous noise, such as a running fan or television static. A white noise machine can help to block out disruptive outside noises.
Pink noise is usually classified as relaxing, but not necessarily a steady sound. For example, nature sounds, such as falling rain or rustling leaves can be considered pink noise, and can help aid in sleeping.
If you have trouble quieting your thoughts when you lay down at night, guided meditation may help. Guided meditation uses a calm voice over that gently guides you through breathing and relaxation techniques that are designed to help you drift off to sleep. You can usually find these types of tracks with or without music included.
For some folks, simple spoken word or storytelling can be the key to experiencing a calm, deep sleep. When choosing a podcast for sleep, be careful to select something that is not too loud, and promotes a relaxed mood.
Tips to Make Music a Part of Your Sleep Routine
To see the full benefits of making music therapy a part of your sleep hygiene routine, it’s important to follow a few general tips and guidelines.
Make it a Habit
Just like anything that has to do with your overall health, consistency is key. Set a sleep schedule that allows you to listen to at least 45 minutes of soothing music, white noise, or other soothing sounds before falling asleep. Once you’ve found the sleep sounds that work best for you, be sure to listen nightly.
Don’t Wear Earbuds
While individual earbuds are fine for exercising or day-to-day activities, it’s very dangerous to wear them to sleep. If you are someone who tends to sleep on their side, the pressing of your pillow against your earbud can run the risk of causing irreversible damage to your inner ear. Along with the issue of pressure against your ear from your pillow or mattress, you also risk losing your earbuds.
It’s best to invest in headband-style headphones made specifically for sleeping. You can also try using your television, a speaker, or your phone’s speaker.
Watch the Volume
If you choose to use your television or headphones, make sure your selected music is not overly loud. If you set the volume too loud, you run the risk of damaging your hearing, or being woken up by certain songs or sounds within the mix.
Takeaway: What’s the Best Music to Fall Asleep To?
Researchers found in a wide variety of studies) that listening to music at night can be extremely beneficial to your sleep quality by essentially helping to relax your mind and body as a whole.
Though the research shows that music, in general, can be beneficial to your health, at the end of the day, the best music to fall asleep to is whatever works best for you. There are a number of websites, smartphone apps, streaming services, and other resources that allow you to explore everything from classical contemporary music to soothing nature sounds, allowing you to create your ideal bedtime playlist.
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