Whether intentional or unintentional, many of us have fallen asleep listening to music. But, if you’re experiencing trouble sleeping, soothing music is one of the safest natural sleep aids in existence. This is not a new idea—parents have been using lullabies to calm tired babies for hundreds of years, and now we know that there is good reason for it.

Several studies have shown that listening to music can help us fall asleep and stay asleep. Although deciding on the most relaxing music for sleep is a matter of opinion, there are certain varieties that have the highest success rate.

How Does Music Help You Sleep?

Even without scientific research, many people know that listening to music can help you relax and fall asleep, but several studies have been able to prove it. Findings show that music has the ability to decrease anxiety, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate because the enjoyment of it triggers the production of the feel-good chemical, serotonin, in our brains. This creates the perfect conditions for relaxation and sleep throughout the body.

However, there are certain types of music that are best for sleep and other types that should be avoided. The ideal sleep music would be slow—no faster than 60-80 beats per minute—and would contain no drastic changes in volume, tempo, or style.

Music with 60-80 beats per minute matches up perfectly with a normal resting heart rate, and our brains synchronize the two, encouraging sleep. It usually takes about 5 minutes for our brain and body to complete this synchronization process, and the more time spent listening, the better. Sleep music is most effective when listening time exceeds 45 minutes, plus listening to sleep music over time trains our brain to sleep when the melody starts.

On the other hand, it’s best to avoid sleep music that is fast, uplifting, stimulating, or constantly changing because it can have the opposite effect on our body, making us energetic rather than relaxed. So, genres like rock and EDM are not the best choice for sleep music. Additionally, try to avoid listening to your preferred type of music for sleep.

This allows your brain to turn off instead of anticipating what’s coming next in the song, and your brain will eventually associate this new type of music with sleep. But, if you find it difficult to listen to different types of music, instrumental covers of your favorites could be a good alternative.

What Are The Top Six Types of Sleep Music?

It can be argued that the best type of sleep music is whatever you find to be relaxing, but there are certain kinds of music that are particularly conducive to sleep. Here is a summary of the top 6 types of sleep music.

“Weightless”

“Weightless”- Oddly enough, there is a song that has been identified by experts to be the “perfect” song for sleep, and it is considered to be the most relaxing song in existence—hence why it is number one on this list. The song is called “Weightless”, and it is performed by a band out of Manchester called Marconi Union. It is 8 minutes long and composed of guitar, piano, and miscellaneous, edited sounds. What makes this song so unique and relaxing is that no melody is repeated in the song—it starts with 60 beats per minute and gradually goes down to 50 with the use of relaxing chimes and “low whooshing tones”. A study conducted in 2011 with 40 women showed that “Weightless” is 11% more relaxing than any other song.

After the song was released, a video was made to accompany it, which shows a drone calmly flying among mountains and over lakes. Now there is a 10-hour version of the song for all night listening as well. The band has also released 5 other songs meant for sleep and relaxation. All of these are available on YouTube.

Classical

As you probably expected, classical music is also at the top of the list of best sleep music, and the term usually refers to compositions written prior to 1945. Because of its use of piano, flute, and string instruments, classical music is naturally very soothing and calming. However, a good portion of classical music can be quick and dynamic with building crescendos, so not all classical music is appropriate for sleep. Look for classical music that has slow, calm beats and doesn’t make use of a lot of bass or percussion. Even though it may not be your go-to favorite for listening, classical music has been proven to help people sleep in numerous studies.

Contemporary Classical

While very similar to classical music, contemporary classical is just that—a more modern version of old-fashioned classical. Contemporary classical refers to compositions written after 1945 and often has European influence. Another large part of what separates contemporary classical music from classical music is the integration of electronic elements that became available to composers over time. The best contemporary classical music for sleep should be flowing with no substantial changes in tempo or style, no lyrics, and still fall within 60 to 80 beats per minute. Since contemporary classical is so similar to classical, many of the same benefits can be applied to both genres.

Ambient Melodies/Nature Sounds


Ambient melodies and nature sounds can be grouped together because they are often both regarded as calming background noise. Ambient music is usually repetitive but without rhythm, and it can be almost trance-like, which promotes drowsiness and relaxation. The song “Weightless” mentioned above falls into the ambient music category. Nature sounds can vary but usually include waterfalls, birds chirping, a thunderstorm, ocean waves, wind, crickets, or any other calm, natural sound. Oftentimes, ambient melodies and nature sounds are mixed together on the same track, pairing the sounds of gentle instruments with the outdoors. Together, ambient melodies and nature sounds can transport your mind and body to any relaxing setting.

World

This type of sleep music, also called global or international music, can refer to a number of different styles of music from around the world, and often includes the combination of several types of music. The term ‘world music’ is very broad, and encompasses sounds and styles from all continents, especially those that fall into the category of folk music. Some of the best kinds of world music for sleep are the Native American, Celtic, or Indian varieties. These styles usually include lots of flutes and stringed instruments, which are some of the most relaxing. Although it is best to try to avoid music with lyrics for the purpose of sleep, the gentle voices that may be present in world music varieties won’t necessarily take away from your ability to relax while listening.

Jazz

Jazz originated in New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has since developed several subgenres. As a result, jazz music has the potential to be very relaxing or very stimulating. Try to avoid the fast varieties and those that have lyrics, and aim for smooth jazz, which combines instrumentation with soothing digital edits. Because jazz relies heavily on piano and saxophone and is known for its smooth tones and flowing melodies, the right selection can ease tension in your body and mind. Plus, jazz is often more modern and enjoyable than the classical genres.

Sleep Music PlaylistsKey Considerations

Although it may seem easy to find any classical music playlist and start relaxing, it could take some more work than that. Because the styles and melodies can vary within genre, it is important to find the right set of music that is conducive to sleep.

The most difficult part about finding or creating your sleep music playlist is making sure there are no surprises. Before you use the playlist for sleep, do a test listen for each of the songs. You don’t want to be on the verge of falling asleep when a song with a quick tempo or increased intensity comes on unexpectedly. Each song on your sleep music playlist should be similar in their overall essence so that they flow together naturally.

Next, decide on which type of sleep music you prefer. If you can’t stand classical, maybe jazz is your best option, for example. Even if your sleep music isn’t what you would normally listen to, it has to be enjoyable in order for it to be effective in helping you unwind.

Your sleep playlist must also be long enough to play for at least 45 minutes before you fall asleep and for a while after you fall asleep. This gives your body enough time to get synchronized with the music, lower your heart rate, and calm any anxieties; plus, your brain is training itself to sleep when it hears that playlist.

Luckily, some of the legwork that goes into creating a sleep playlist is already done. There are several sleep playlists available on a variety of platforms like Spotify and YouTube. Keep in mind that just searching for “sleep music” will yield many results of playlists with calming music you can find on Music Groupies, but not all of the songs will necessarily live up to the standards for the ideal sleep music. It is still important to listen to a playlist before you use it as a sleep aid to ensure it is enjoyable for you and appropriate for relaxation.

A good place to start is here—this webpage is integrated with Spotify playlists for almost all of the genres listed above and were made with the ideal sleep music specifications in mind. Finally, here is the link for the most relaxing song ever made, “Weightless”, on YouTube.

What Is The Best Way To Listen To Sleep Music?

Sometimes the logistics of listening to any kind of audio in bed or while sleeping can be challenging. Using headphones can be uncomfortable and even dangerous to wear while lying in bed or sleeping, and if you’re sharing the bed, your partner may prefer silence. Fortunately, there are options for everyone’s sleep circumstances, two of them being sleep headphones and pillow speakers.

Simply put, sleep headphones are headphones that are designed to fit comfortably while lying in a horizontal position with your head on a pillow. The three main types are over ear, in ear, or headband style. Deciding on which kind is right for you mostly depends on your preferred sleep position.

Back sleepers would be comfortable with over-ear headphones, while side sleepers may prefer in-ear headphones that won’t get in the way. Headband style is the most versatile and would work with most sleep preferences. Either way, it is best to use wireless headphones, so the wire does not pose the risk of getting tangled around your body, or worse, your neck.

If you sleep alone or your partner doesn’t mind, ditch the headphones and sleep freely with a pillow speaker. Pillow speakers are usually designed to fit inside a pillow or under it. They are available in both wired and wireless versions, but sometimes the pillow can muffle the audio, or the weight and movement of your head could damage the speaker. If this is concerning to you, a regular Bluetooth or wired speaker on your bedside table would work just as well.

Best Sleep Music – Final Thoughts

Music and the therapeutic qualities it possesses are a powerful sleep aid. Listening to music before bed and while falling asleep can have an incredibly positive impact on your body and mind in more ways than one. Although there are several types of sleep music available, the best type has soothing melodies at a pace of 60-80 beats per minute, and most importantly, it works for you.

About Marissa Gvozdenovich Marissa is an English teacher and writer. She enjoys the Florida beach life with her husband and puppy.

People often listen to music, white noise, or meditation tracks to help them sleep. Each of these can block out noise that disturbs sleep, provide relaxation that encourages sleep, or put an end to racing thoughts that prevent sleep. However, playing audio in the middle of the night might not be pleasing to everyone in your household, so you need a way to listen privately. But if you’ve ever tried to sleep with regular earbuds, you know that they’re not very comfortable to lay on, and the cords can get in the way. This is why a specialized set of sleep earbuds could be your solution.

Quick Look at Our Top 5 Picks

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Small enough to sleep with comfortably
  • Fit well and stay in place
  • Good sound quality
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  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Fit well and stay in place
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  • Very comfortable to wear while sleeping
  • Won’t cause ear pain
  • Great value for the price
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  • Very comfortable to wear while sleeping
  • Impressive sound quality and noise cancellation
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  • Comfortable to wear all night with no pain
  • Excellent noise cancellation
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Earbuds for Sleeping— Key Considerations

Comfort: As I’ve already mentioned, most people turn to sleep earbuds because regular sets are too uncomfortable to sleep with, especially when side sleeping. As a result, comfort makes up a large portion of the key criteria for a good pair of sleep earbuds.

Basically, you need to find a pair of sleep earbuds that you can comfortably wear for several hours without adjusting them. If you need to wake up to re-insert the earbuds throughout the night, they aren’t helping you. Plus, you want to find a pair that doesn’t dig into your ear when you are laying on your side because it’s painful and could cause damage to your ear.

Wired vs. Wireless: The benefits of a wireless set of sleep earbuds are pretty clear. First off, it can be dangerous to have a wire that close to your neck while you sleep because of the risk of strangulation. And if you are someone that often changes sleep position, the wire could become wrapped around other parts of your body causing discomfort, or the movement could tug on the wire, unplugging it from your device and interrupting your sleep. Some people have found that they can avoid some of these disadvantages by tucking the wires under a pillow.

Wireless Bluetooth earbuds are best for sleep because they are much safer and more comfortable, although they are usually more expensive than wired sets. Additionally, wireless earbuds can be inserted further into your ear, so they won’t get in the way when side sleeping. Be sure to find a pair that has a long battery life if you plan to wear them all night.

Noise Cancellation: Since one of the main reasons for using sleep earbuds is to block out environmental sounds, noise cancellation is an important feature to look for. There are two kinds of noise cancellation: passive and active. Passive noise cancellation refers to sound being physically blocked from entering your ear, similar to how an earplug works. Active noise cancellation works when the earbuds add sounds to your audio that specifically cancel out the unwanted sounds. The most effective noise cancellation is the combination of both passive and active methods. Earbuds that employ both types of noise cancellation will result in the quietest listening experience.

Sound Quality: Sound quality is not as important as the other features you will find in sleep earbuds because even poor sound quality will get the job done. But, for the purpose of sleep, you will want to find a sound quality that you find to be soothing, inoffensive, and balanced.

In general, sound quality refers to how crisp and clear the audio is, how well the sound blocks out environmental noise, and the amount of sound that comes out of the earbuds that can be heard by someone who isn’t wearing them. Headphones almost always have the best sound quality, but earbuds are a close second. Keep in mind, though, that sound quality can be a matter of opinion or personal preference.

Price: Sleep earbuds can be very expensive or very cheap, but the price doesn’t always indicate the quality. Some expensive earbuds are a letdown, while some cheap sets are excellent. Because of this, it is best to find a set that has the features you want at a price you can afford. For your reference, the recommended earbuds below range in price from $12 to $249, but you may find others outside of this range. 

Also Read: Best Over the Counter Sleeping Pills

What Are the Top Five Earbuds for Sleeping?

Here is a summary of the top five earbuds for sleeping, each offering a unique combination of desirable features. All of these products are highly rated, and sleep tested.

ENACFIRE E18 Wireless Earbuds

The ENACFIRE E18 Wireless Earbuds have high-quality HD stereo audio output and connect easily to your Bluetooth device. These earbuds are equipped with extra bass, and the Bluetooth connection is clear and strong up to 33 feet from your device. Each pair has a 3.5-hour battery life, but the compact charging case stores enough energy to charge the earbuds 4 to 5 times, resulting in 15 hours of total playtime.

These earbuds come with 3 different tip sizes, plus the built-in microphone allows you to take calls while using the earbuds, and a single button on the left bud allows you to pause and skip songs. ENACFIRE includes a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty, as well as a 30-day no-questions-asked return policy, with the purchase of this product.

Pros:

  • Small enough to sleep with comfortably
  • Fit well and stay in place
  • Good sound quality

Cons:

  • Short battery life

Bose Wireless Noise-Masking Sleepbuds

The Bose Wireless Noise-Masking Sleepbuds are specifically designed to help you sleep with no interruption from environmental noise. They come with 3 sizes of Stay Hear+ Sleep Tips, and they are controlled through the Bose Sleep app, which also has ten soothing sound tracks to choose from and an alarm clock feature. The storage case works as a charger, which will charge the buds fully one time before having to plug it in. Each set of earbuds has a 16-hour battery life, so the sound tracks will play all night.

Pros:

  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Fit well and stay in place

Cons:

  • Cannot play your own audio—only the provided soothing sounds
  • High price

MAXROCK Sleep Earplugs

The MAXROCK Sleep Earplugs are wired earbuds specifically designed for sleep. These earbuds are extremely lightweight and have soft silicon double-layer tips that can adapt to any ear. The specially designed tips provide a high degree of noise cancellation to block out environmental noise. Each pair is equipped with a microphone for receiving calls and on-wire button to control audio, plus they come with a zippered carrying case. MAXROCK offers a three-month, no-hassle return and replace policy with the purchase of these earbuds.

Pros:

  • Very comfortable to wear while sleeping
  • Won’t cause ear pain
  • Great value for the price

Cons:

  • Not as durable/long-lasting as expected

ATECH Ultra Flexible Silicon Sleeping Earbuds

The ATECH Sleeping Earbuds are small and perfect for side sleeping. The entire earbud is constructed with flexible silicon for a snug, comfortable fit. These earbuds have an extra-long, thin, tough wire that won’t restrict your movement. The wire has a built-in microphone to answer and end calls and a button to control your audio. ATECH offers a 1-year warranty and a 30-day money-back policy with the purchase of this product.

Pros:

  • Very comfortable to wear while sleeping
  • Impressive sound quality and noise cancellation

Cons:

  • Not as durable/long-lasting as expected

MAXROCK Unique Total Soft Silicon Sleeping Earbuds

The MAXROCK Unique Total Soft Silicon Sleeping Earbuds are made completely of soft silicon, including the two-layer tip design that adapts to any size ear and cancels out extra noise. The built-in microphone allows you to answer and end calls, and the in-wire button allows you to control your audio playback. This set of lightweight earbuds is available in 5 different colors: black, green, pink, grey, and white.

Pros:

  • Comfortable to wear all night with no pain
  • Excellent noise cancellation

Cons:

  • Not as durable/long-lasting as expected

Earbuds for Sleeping— Final Thoughts

Listening to soothing audio is a great, medication-free way to beat insomnia, but there are a few other points to take in mind as you look to purchase, and use, earbuds for sleeping. Although using earbuds in bed can seem harmless, there are some disadvantages. For example, it is critical to keep your earbuds properly cleaned and sanitized because bacteria and earwax buildup can occur if you wear them for a significant amount of time, which can lead to irritation or infection in your ear canal. Plus, it’s always a good idea to be conscious of volume, as hearing loss can occur if you listen to loud sounds for several hours each night.

With all of this in mind, you should have a good idea of what to look for in a pair of earbuds for sleeping. In essence, it all comes down to finding a set that cancels out environmental noise and is comfortable and safe enough for you to wear for several hours in a lying down position.

About Marissa Gvozdenovich Marissa is an English teacher and writer. She enjoys the Florida beach life with her husband and puppy.