We’ve all experienced how frustrating it is to lie wide awake in bed, unable to fall asleep. The more time passes, the more our irritation with ourselves grows and nothing seems to be working. There are, however, various things you can do at that moment that increase your chances of falling asleep, and one of those things is listening to music. In this article, we’ll explore what types of music will help you sleep as well as offer some insights as to why music seems to be so effective in helping us fall asleep and all the ways it affects our brain.
In addition to this, we have a section where we included some of our best tips for listening to music before bed, as well as an FAQ section where we answer some pressing questions.
With that out of the way, let’s see if music can actually help us fall asleep.
Can Music Help You Fall Asleep?
Intuitively, we know that listening to a couple of songs before bedtime can make our dozing off process easier and faster. After all, there’s a reason why we sing lullabies to babies. It’s not only babies and children that are affected by the power of music at bedtime – most of us know, from our own experience, what kind of music helps us drift off faster.
There have been many studies that have confirmed what we believe all along – listening to music before bed helps us fall asleep faster and improves our overall quality of sleep. Individuals who reported listening to music prior to going to bed had deeper and more restorative sleep. As a method, it’s been used in people who reported suffering from sleep problems and disorders and it’s proven to be just as effective as using other relaxing techniques.
What’s most fascinating about studies that demonstrate the impact of listening to music before sleep is that the results seem to become even better as more time passes – the participants of the studies witnessed an even bigger improvement in their sleep quality over time, assuming that they continued their bedtime habit.
The positive effect of music on our sleep quality and ability to fall asleep faster is science-backed, but how exactly does music affect us and what makes it so beneficial for our brains? Let’s find out.
How Does Music Affect Us?
One of the ways in which listening to music helps us fall asleep faster is by calming down our minds and giving us something else to focus on. At the end of the day, chances are our minds are brimming with thoughts about how the day went and what the following day holds, so having something else to focus on helps put us in a more relaxed state wherein we’re more likely to fall asleep.
Listening to music before bed doesn’t only help calm down our minds, but it’s also proven to boost our overall serotonin levels which help put us in a more relaxed state. Plus, it’s shown to lower cortisol levels, which also helps calm down our body and help us get ready for bed.
Another indirect way in which listening to music before bed might help us fall asleep faster is by encouraging us to follow our bedtime routine more rigorously. If we know that we’re about to cosy up with some of our favourite tunes with a cup of tea or milk or our journal, we’re more likely to put off some distracting bedtime habits like scrolling through social media and focus of going to bed.
If you need a bigger incentive as to why you should include more music in your life, whether it’s before sleep or during other parts of your day, here are some of the benefits you can expect if you start listening to music more frequently.
Other Benefits of Listening to Music
Apart from improved sleep quality, listening to music has also been associated with great heart health and lower blood pressure. Calm, relaxing music seems to benefit the heart as much as it benefits the brain.
Additionally, music can help release stress and relieve some negative feelings like anxiety and depression. There’s a reason why we always feel better after listening to our favourite songs and artists regardless of the mood we’re currently in.
An unexpected yet interesting perk of listening to music is increased endurance. If you’re listening to uplifting music that motivates you while you’re working out, chances are you’ll be more motivated to finish your workout, have more energy, and push yourself a bit further.
Lastly, music greatly impacts the way we process memories. Chances are you’re already associating a certain song with a pleasant memory. This is because listening to music triggers our hippocampus, which is the part of our brain that’s associated with memory storage.
Just like the other senses, if you listen to a song that was very prevalent during a certain period of your life, you’re more likely to remember those memories in greater detail. What’s more, music therapy has been successfully used in Alzheimer’s patients and has been shown to relieve some of the symptoms related to the condition, which speaks to its power.
What Is the Best Music for Sleep?
Hopefully, by now we’ve managed to convince you of the undeniable positive impact of music not only on our sleep quality and duration but also to other, often unexpected areas of life.
Needless to say, some types of music are better than others in terms of its ability to help us fall asleep and improve our sleep quality. In this section, we’ll explore what kind of music it’s recommended to listen to before bed, what its volume should ideally be, and in what range its tempo should fall in.
When it comes to the genre that’s recommended if you intend on using music to fall asleep faster, there isn’t one genre that’s inherently better than the others. Unsurprisingly, our own music taste and preferences play a major role in how quickly we’re able to fall asleep. It makes sense if we think about it – the more we like the music, the more likely it’s to put us in a relaxed state of mind and help us get better sleep quality.
Apart from the genre, you’ll want to pay attention to things like volume and tempo. It’s recommended that you should keep your music at a very low volume, otherwise you risk being unable to fall asleep due to the loudness. In terms of tempo, the slower the tempo the more likely it’s to put you in a relaxed state of mind and thus help you fall asleep, so you should keep it at around starting from 60 beats per minute to around 100.
We recommend creating a playlist using some of the above-mentioned tips. Your songs of choice can be anything you’d like, from Chopin to Taylor Swift, as long as they aren’t fast-paced. If you’re not feeling up to the task of creating your own playlist, you can always search YouTube for relaxing playlists designed specifically for sleep. There are a myriad of playlists that are hours long, so it’ll also enable you to listen to music while you’re falling asleep (something we’re about to cover).
If you’re not a fan of classical music or slower music, try switching it up with a genre of music you like, all the while sticking to some of the metrics we mentioned earlier. Remember, what’s most important is that you find the music relaxing, otherwise its positive effects won’t be as powerful or long-lasting for you.
What About Listening to Music While We Sleep?
You’re equipped with all the salient parameters when it comes to choosing music to listen to before bed, but what about the songs you listen to while you sleep? Most importantly, is it a good idea to listen to music while we sleep in the first place?
Unsurprisingly, listening to music while we sleep has similar benefits as listening to music before going to bed. Despite the fact that we’re sleeping, our bodies continue to feel the benefits of music, such as increased serotonin, lower our blood pressure, and generally enhanced mental wellbeing.
Can Listening to Music in Bed Be Disruptive?
With that said, there are always drawbacks with certain claims, and listening to music while we sleep has been associated with some.
For instance, we’re at a risk of suffering from necrosis – a condition that manifests itself due to a lack of blood flow. One of the many ways this can occur is when your earbuds or earphones cut off the circulation in your brain.
Another obvious way earphones can be a health hazard in bed is due to the risk of strangulation. If you’re not using wireless headphones, there’s always a chance that you might get entangled with the wires which can lead to a serious injury, even death.
Another drawback from using earphones in bed is that you risk getting excessive wax in your ears. Wax is naturally occurring and serves as protection of the ear canal, but wearing earphones for a prolonged period of time can lead to a wax build up in our ears.
What if I Don’t Wear Earphones?
If your living conditions allow for it, you can always put on a playlist on your computer and go to bed while listening to it. While the results might not be exactly the same and you might miss out on some of the intricacies of the rhythm and instruments, you’ll still get the same benefits.
Although quite old-school, you can always try listening to the radio before you go to sleep. There are many stations dedicated to relaxing music, so we’re sure you won’t have any trouble finding one that will put you in a relaxed state of mind.
Tips for Listening to Music Before Bed
If you’re feeling inspired to incorporate some music before you go to bed in order to fall asleep faster but you don’t know where to begin, here are some tips that might help.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet. We know that direct lighting prevents us from falling asleep, but the same can be true for background noise. If you don’t have earphones, make sure all the other noise in your bedroom is turned off, such as your TV.
- Avoid emotional songs. All of us have different songs we associate with difficult periods in our lives, songs that tend to make us emotional even when we’re feeling great. It’s a good idea to avoid these types of songs before going to bed because they can trigger an emotional response and are more likely to keep you up at night.
- It’s a good idea to fill your playlists with songs you actually enjoy listening to and that make you feel excited and hopeful for the upcoming day. Experiment with your choice of songs and find what works best for you.
- Add it to your bedtime routine. All of us have a bedtime routine we follow before going to bed. Some routines are structured and planned, whereas others are more spontaneous. Regardless of your preferred approach, try your best to fit in a chunk of time in your routine when you mindfully listen to the songs on your playlist. If your goal is to fall asleep faster, this should be the last step in your routine.
What Kind of Music Helps You Fall Asleep?
Research has shown that there isn’t a single genre that’s better than the rest in terms of its ability to make you fall asleep faster. What matters is that the BPM average around 70-80, that the music isn’t too upbeat, and that you find it relaxing.
Will Classical Music Help Me Fall Asleep?
There isn’t a specific genre you should fall asleep to. While classical music might be an intuitive answer for many since it does actually help us doze off, you are free to choose a genre that you personally find relaxing, as long as it’s on low volume and the songs aren’t too upbeat.
Is It Bad to Sleep With Headphones?
While the benefits of listening to music while sleeping outweigh the potential consequences, it’s important to keep them in mind. Some of the risks associated with listening to music with non-wireless headphones while sleeping include necrosis, strangulation, and excessive wax.
What Is the Best Music for Sleeping?
The best music to listen to if you want to fall asleep faster is the one you find relaxing and calming.
That brings us to the end of our article on what types of music will help you sleep.
Science has shown that listening to music before going to bed not only helps us fall asleep faster, but it also improves our overall quality of sleep and helps us reach a state of deep, restorative sleep. There are many sleep-related benefits associated with listening to music such as helping us relax, boosting our happy hormones, and making us more prone to following a night time routine. But the benefits of music don’t stop there – it also has a positive effect on our overall health such as lowering our blood pressure and increasing our endurance.
There isn’t a specific genre that can help us fall asleep – what matters is that we find the music relaxing, keeping the music at low volume, and keeping the tempo somewhere around 60 to 100 BPM. Some tips you can use if you’re trying to incorporate more music to your routine before going to bed includes avoiding emotional songs and including those you enjoy and keeping the rest of your bedroom quiet.
Lai H.L., Good M. Music improves sleep quality in older adults. J. Adv. Nurs. 2005;49:234–244. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2004.03281.x. – DOI – PubMed