Several global trends are increasing the options and variety of sleep music available. Throughout human history, people have used music to reduce stress, relax, and induce sleep. For those with sleep problems, they may find that relaxing music before bedtime helps them clear their mind and both fall asleep and stay asleep. Most consumers have strong opinions regarding the types of music or sounds that help them relax and sleep and what works for one person may not work for others.
Sleep music has been evolving for several years and there are a growing set of options including:
- Relaxing Sleep Sounds
- Classical Music/Relaxing Instrumental music
- New age music
- Ambient Music
- Nature Sounds Mixed with Music
- Sounds of Nature (No Music)
- ASMR for Sleep
- Baby Sleep Music/Lullabies
Let’s take a look into worldwide sleep issues and explore some of the popular sleep music options below.
Global Sleep Issues
According to the World Association of Sleep Medicine, sleep problems have become a global epidemic that threatens the health and quality of life for approximately 45 percent of the world’s population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults obtain a minimum of seven hours of sleep during each 24-hour period for optimal health and wellness. Yet, as highlighted by the American Sleep Association, a staggering 35.3 percent of U.S. adults report obtaining less than seven hours of sleep in a typical 24-hour period. The effects of sleep deprivation on a person’s health and well-being are serious. Johns Hopkins Medicine states that sleep deprivation can significantly increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, anxiety, and more. Stress – which can contribute to sleeplessness – constitutes another pervasive global health issue. In the U.S., 75 percent of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year, shares the American Psychological Association.
Popular Sleep Music Options & Examples
Most sleep experts agree that sleep music should have a slow tempo, at 60 beats per minute (BPM) or less if they want to relax. Several sleep experts discourage lyrics in sleep music as they believe spoken words cause active listening and are thus not as effective for inducing sleep. However, it is clear that some consumers don’t mind lyrics and some of the favorite playlists on sleep services have plenty of songs that have lyrics. Desired duration of sleep music is another factor to consider. Sleep music duration options vary widely. Some people prefer to listen to a song or playlist to fall asleep. For these folks, there are individual songs and playlists from a few minutes to 1 hour in duration. Other people like to play music in the background the entire night. For these people, there are several music offerings in the 8-12 hour range of duration.
Relaxing Sleep Sounds
The engineering behind Marconi Union’s “Weightless” was drawn from scientific theory to slow breathing and reduce mental activity. Its strategic bass-lines, rhythms, and harmonies work to induce sleepiness. This song starts at 60 beats per minute and eventually slows to 50 beats per minute. This lowered heart rate naturally leads to a fall in blood pressure and eases anxiety.
“The harmonic intervals – or gaps between notes – have been chosen to create a feeling of euphoria and comfort. And there is no repeating melody, which allows your brain to completely switch off because you are no longer trying to predict what is coming next … Instead, there are random chimes, which helps to induce a deeper sense of relaxation. The final element is the low, whooshing sounds and hums that are like buddhist chants [that] put you in a trance-like state,” Liz Cooper, Founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, explains about “Weightless.”
Classical Music/Relaxing Instrumental Music
Composers Vivaldi, Mozart, Bach, Chopin, and Beethoven are often mentioned as classical artists with musical offerings ideal for relaxation and sleep. Listen to this collection of classical music for relaxation below.
New Age Music
Enya blends new age, Celtic, classical, church, and folk music. Listen to her breakthrough Watermark album below!
Ambient music emphasizes tone and atmosphere over traditional musical structure or rhythm. A form of slow instrumental music, it uses repetitive, but gentle, soothing sound patterns to generate a sense of calmness.
Nature Sounds Mixed with Music
Sounds from nature are especially relaxing. Listen to this clip of music paired with a waterfall!
Besides sleep, sounds derived directly from nature are often used in meditation and mindfulness relaxation practice.
ASMR for Sleep
Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is an experience characterized by static-like sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. ASMR is described as “a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin.” This state is most commonly triggered by specific auditory or visual stimuli. Check out this ASMR video made for sleep!
Baby Sleep Music/Lullabies
As every new parent learns quickly, babies keep some rather odd hours and are not at all sound sleepers. With parental sleep deprivation setting in, many mothers and fathers desperately search out different strategies to help their little ones sleep for longer and more peaceful periods. Playing baby sleep music and lullabies often does the trick for little ones!