Researchers Find The Best Relaxing Music that Makes You Fall Asleep Faster
The National Institute of Health reports that for 50 to 70 million Americans, getting adequate sleep each night is a very real struggle. More than one-third of Americans get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night.
Aside from pills and potions, how can you naturally find a way to doze off?
Both scientists and troubled sleepers agree that listening to music before bed can relax even the busiest of minds.
Of course, listening to just any music won't help you drift off to sleep. Music that helps induce sleep is a special sort that has particular elements that make it effective.
A study out of Hong Kong had study participants listen to music for 30 to 45 minutes before bed each evening for three months.
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Participants fell asleep faster, slept deeper, and felt better the next morning.
The music they listened to all had between 60-80 beats per minute which mimics our heartbeat when we are falling asleep.
By syncing your heart rate with peaceful music, you enter a sort of mindful meditation which slows the heart rate further, which lowers the blood pressure and lulls you into a peaceful state similar to when a baby is sung a lullaby.
In fact, music that mimics our time in the womb is naturally settling to us and alerts the body to relax and slow.
This is why we sing lullabies to children, and it's often suggested to hold babies to your heart when rocking them to sleep as it mimics the womb.
Why then, wouldn't it make sense to try some of those same techniques as adults?
Psychologist Dave Elliot of the University of Cumbria found the most relaxing music included the following elements: “90 beats per minute, a 4/4 beat, piano and strings, and narrow note sequences where the notes moved from low to high.”
So, why does relaxing music soothe the savage beast to sleep?
When you listen to relaxing music, it lowers noradrenaline, a stress hormone, in the body.
This reduction reduces your level of vigilance and allows you to let your guard down, which lets you sleep better.
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So, what should listen to in order to fall asleep? While individual taste varies, there are several songs that commonly help people fall asleep. Here are a few of the artists and songs you should add to your playlist to help lull you to sleep.
The Best Relaxing Music that Makes You Fall Asleep Faster
1. “Weightless” by Marconi Union
The song “Weightless” by Marconi Union has been scientifically proven in a 2011 study to be more 11 percent more relaxing than any song.
And for a good reason! "Weightless" was made by Marconi Union in collaboration with the British Academy of Sound Therapy.
In conjunction with the band, sound therapists engineered the song to decrease stress, blood pressure, and resting heart rates. Part of the magical formula that went into this was the combination of harmonies featuring the guitar, piano, and sounds from natural landscapes and no percussion.
It beat out popular sleepy music artists such as Mozart, Enya, and Coldplay.
So how do we know it really works? The participants were given challenging puzzles to complete in a certain timeframe to induce stress.
They were then played a variety of songs while their vitals were recorded. “Weightless” caused a 65 percent reduction in overall anxiety and actually brought their levels 35 percent lower than their normal resting rates.
The song achieved its goal so thoroughly Time Magazine named it one of the inventions of the year.
2. Classical Music
Most people choose classical music due to what they consider the “snooze-factor.” This misconception comes from the lack of vocals in most classical music.
However, you must be careful when choosing music for your sleep playlist. Classical music has a diverse range of elements, especially considering the frequency of soft to loud modulations used.
While they might not seem like a big deal when you listen to it regularly, the soft-loud intervals are more noticeable and will not be relaxing enough to induce sleep.
Classical music has been shown to calm anxiety. Researchers at the University of Toronto found that listening to classical music not only helped people fall asleep but helped them stay asleep longer as well.
The study found, “Works by Brahms, Handel, Mozart, Strauss, and Bach were effective sleep aids because they use rhythms and tonal patterns that create a meditative mood and slow brainwaves.”
Take advantage of this by checking out a few of these calming classical works: “Suites for Solo Cello” by Johanne Sebastian Bach, “Concerto for String and Harp,” by Wolfgang Mozart, and Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.”
Jazz and blues can be both rousing and relaxing, but show up very often on sleep playlists. Michael Breuss, Ph.D., sleep expert and author of The Sleep Doctor’sDiet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep, recommends songs with a slower beat, “As you are falling asleep, your heart rate begins to slow, and starts to move toward that 60-beats-per-minute range.”
He also recommends music with no words for best results (there’s no scientific data to back this up), however, if words distract you, then stick with instrumentals.
A few other jazz and blues songs to try: “The Nearness of You” by Sarah Vaughn, “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis, and “Central Park West” by John Coltrane.
In a survey conducted by Travelodge in 2008, Coldplay came out on top as the band that was most likely to send Britons off to sleepy land. The survey looked at which bands and authors were most likely to induce sleep.
Leigh McCarron of Travelodge said: "We are increasingly relying on slow, sleepy music and unchallenging books to take our minds off the pressures of modern living... Coldplay and Jordan seem to hit just the right spot among Britain's insomniacs."
Some of our favorites for their sleep-inducing qualities are: “Fix You,” “Spies,” and “Swallowed in the Sea.”
More than one-third of Americans get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night.
5. Ed Sheeran
Could it be that the spritely ginger troubadour is…putting people to sleep? According to Spotify, when it ran through over three million user-generated sleep playlists, Sheeran’s song, “Thinking Out Loud” dominated playlists more than any other.
The sweet and soothing love song may appeal to our sense of rest. The slower melody leads us to breathe deeper and slower, slowing our heart rates and thus, slowing our minds preparing us for sleep.
A few other Sheeran songs to enjoy falling asleep to: “Dive,” “Photograph,” and “Kiss Me.”
How to Make Your Own Playlist
Here are a few pointers for making your personalized sleep playlist.
- Be sure your songs do not have heavy or dominating percussion (no Metallica).
- Avoid music that gets too loud and then soft. Our bodies may be roused by the surprising loudness even if it retreats to softness.
- Choose songs with 60 beats per minute.
- Choose songs that feature the piano and strings.
- Stay away from songs that have a personal emotion linked to them (for instance, the first song you and an ex ever danced to) as any memories associated with a song may be counterproductive.
- Don’t wear earbuds or headphones to bed. Use a speaker, or if you are really serious, invest in pillow speakers.
Also, be sure to check out the premade sleep music lists of others on Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Music to get ideas.
Try to build a ritual around bedtime for best results.
Start listening to songs a few minutes before getting into bed and adjust the volume to a soft lull.
Remember, it can take as long as three weeks to feel consistent improvements, but stick with it, and soon you'll be getting a full night's rest.