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What Is Sleep Music? How Your Playlist Can Help You Snooze Better

What Is Sleep Music? How Your Playlist Can Help You Snooze Better

We know instinctively that music can have a profound impact on our mood. In a 2013 study published by the Journal of Positive Psychology, researchers found that people could improve their mood and boost happiness in just two weeks by listening to upbeat music.

Whether it’s sleep music that helps you wind down, or something motivational enough to keep you going the extra mile on a long run, harnessing the power of music can be a great tool for your well-being.

If you want to fall asleep faster, it pays to be familiar with the best music to fall asleep to. With the help of a genuinely calming night routine, sleep music can go a long way in leading you to better sleep.

Here’s everything you might want to know about how to fall asleep to music:

So, what exactly is sleep music?

Unlike traditional pop songs, sleep music tends to have a much lower bpm (beats per minute) than the average song. High-tempo songs are fun to sing along to, but they also tend to leave you feeling more alert and awake.

Depending on your personal preferences, the way you respond to different kinds of music is going to be unique to you. Most people find different kinds of music relaxing, but in general, sleep music tends to be more gentle, slow, and naturally calmer.

When was sleep music first used?

When was sleep music first used? | Puffy

Many cultures have an established practice of using music therapeutically. In ancient Greece, philosophers believed music had the power to heal and transform patients in pain. Academic interest in music therapy began around the 18th century when English hospitals would employ choirs to help with patient morale. In the US, soldiers with PTSD from the second world war were often visited by musicians while at the hospital.

After music therapy became a more established practice, its applications were explored by experts. Patients who struggle with sleep deprivation and insomnia have found special use in music therapy. Numerous studies documenting the relationship between better sleep and good music have established this as a legitimate tool to fall asleep faster.

Music can go beyond just making us feel good - it can help accelerate healing. Studies have also established that music is able to stave off depressive mood disorders, lower stress levels in the body, and even ease pain.

What are the benefits of listening to sleep music?

Listening to music as you try and wind down for the night can be beneficial for a good night’s sleep. Here are some of the most common benefits:

Regulates the nervous system

Have you ever spent a night in bed tossing and turning because of sleep anxiety? Whether you’re thinking about a work-related deadline or dealing with a spike of personal stress, a racing heart and mind can make it a challenge to feel relaxed enough to go to sleep.

In one study conducted by researchers at the University of Sussex in England, experts found that playing ‘natural sounds’ actually encouraged the nervous system to calm down, controlling the flight-or-fight instincts that tend to aggravate sleep anxiety.

Minimizes stress and anxiety

Not only does the right sleep music positively impact the physiological conditions of stress, but it can also encourage you to feel less stressed internally. By helping regulate your sleep cycles, the right type of music ensures you’re in much better control of your mood regulation.

According to Professor Kim Innes at the University of West Virginia’s public health department, music is able to ‘selectively activate’ the parts of your brain that are associated with a positive mood. This in turn works to minimize depressive symptoms that are commonly associated with trouble sleeping.

By keeping your brain from working overtime, the right type of music can actually prevent you from getting too anxious to fall asleep and catch up on some much-needed rest.

Provides pressure-relief

In the same way a comfortable mattress is able to offset pressure in the body, listening to good music can actually actively encourage pain-relief and keep your muscles relaxed as you’re going to sleep.

Researchers in England have found that listening to music is often recommended by doctors who want to alleviate tension and pain. By keeping the body in a state of relaxation, music can actively work to minimize pain in the body.

Prime the body for a good night’s sleep

One of the main reasons music is recommended so often for a good night’s sleep is because it helps to prime the body sufficiently for great sleep. Sleep music can help encourage and activate certain sleep hormones in the body, including serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine, which can all help contribute to a good night’s sleep.

If you’re looking to fall asleep faster, therefore, winding down with the right sleep music can actually have similar effects to sleep-inducing medication.

Discover more ways to sleep better with anxiety and it's benefits.

What’s the best music to fall asleep to?

What’s the best music to fall asleep to? | Puffy

Now that you’re aware of the far-reaching impacts of good sleep music, you’re probably wondering what it is you should listen to. Your favorite pop or rock song might be a great choice for a workout session, but it’s likely going to leave you more alert than when you started.

For music to fall asleep to, however, you’re going to want to opt for something gentler. If you have an account on Spotify or Apple Music, searching for sleep playlists will help you find a long list of choices that are curated specifically for calmer, more restful sleep.

Certain mindfulness apps such as Headspace and Calm also include sleep music playlists that you can integrate into either a mindfulness practice or simply keep in the background as you’re winding down. Both these options have a range of options for you to be able to customize your comfort.

Most studies have found that music that stays around sixty beats per minute has the most profound impact on a good night’s sleep. Studies reveal that your heart physically slows to match the pace of music you’re listening to, which in turn relaxes the body. Your body is then able to slow down to a pace that is more conducive to sleep.

Some songs that follow this bpm include:

  • Weightless, Macaroni Union
  • Blue Room Hotel, Joni Mitchell
  • Blue in Green, Miles Davis

Instrumental music tends to be a better choice than music with lyrics since words can cause our brains to pay attention and stay alert. You’re also better off listening to music that isn’t too meaningful to you - if you’re busy daydreaming about the summer of ‘69, chances are you won’t be drifting off anytime soon.

How to fall asleep using sleep music

While listening to a great sleep-themed playlist has been proven to be effective, pairing this with a solid night routine is going to do wonders for your sleep hygiene. When you adopt a sleep routine that is sustainable and actually comforting to you, it’ll surprise you how easily you’re able to get better rest. Here are some tips to fall asleep easier than ever:

Set a strict bedtime

Your body responds well to schedules. When you sleep at a consistent time in the evenings, it knows when it needs to start activating the hormones you require for a night of uninterrupted, recharging rest. Try and keep your bedtime as consistent as possible, even through weekends, to reap the full benefits of the music you’re listening to as you wind down.

Stay away from blue light

Your sleep music playlist will simply not work as well if you’re busy scrolling through Facebook while you’re listening. Not only does being mindful and present help you fall asleep faster during bedtime, the blue light present in your phone actually sends signals to your body letting it know you need to be alert for longer.

Have a warm shower before bed

A natural technique for better sleep, when you step out of a warm shower, your internal body temperature drops. This helps prime your body further for a good night’s sleep. The optimal temperature for your room when you’re sleeping is naturally cooler and sits around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Invest in the most comfortable mattress you can

It goes without saying that the right sleep setup is crucial to a proper night of rest and recovery. If you’re having trouble falling asleep because your bed isn’t giving you the support you require, you’ll need a little more than a really good playlist to get snoozing. Find the best mattress for both support and comfort to ensure you’re getting a good night’s sleep.

Once you find a night routine that works for you and have figured out the best music to fall asleep to, you’ll find rest comes easier than ever. Trouble sleeping can feel like a challenge to get through, but it is in no way permanent. Tweaking your night routine through a process of trial and error can leave you feeling more comfortable, and better focus on your well-being.



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Disclaimer. We love sleep and we want you to get the best sleep possible. But we do not provide medical advice. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical info, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our blog.

Certified Sleep Science Coach

Written by Teresa Francis, Certified Sleep Science Coach

Teresa Francis is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and full-time writer focused on well-being and sleep health. She’s written on a variety of topics, from what’s trending in bedroom decor to the way lifestyle influences sleep. Some of the subject areas she covers for Puffy include the best foods for better sleep, how new parents can catch up on rest, and the best way to become a morning person. Teresa has a Master’s Degree in Literature, and has always believed in the power of a good bedtime story.


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