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Can music help you sleep better?

There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it ― Mindy Kaling

Noise has a profound effect on our quality of sleep. A racket in the street can keep you up all night and, equally, a lullaby can encourage a tantrum chucking toddler to slip into blissful rest.

Adults, like children, can be soothed by music and use it as a simple and natural sleep aid. The most basic way putting on a peaceful album can help you drift off is by drowning out all the distracting background noise. Unexpected and sudden noises have a tendency to kick your body into evolutionary overdrive, putting you on alert for a predator and stopping your body and mind from relaxing. Similar to the sleep benefits of white noise, some gentle music will help you focus on your immediate environment and getting ready to rest.

Still, music is more than a barrier from disturbing noise, research has shown that listening to a short session of relaxing music before bedtime can encourage your brain to produce sleep encouraging chemicals. Gentle music will improve the quality of your rest by reducing nervous system activity, decreasing blood pressure, and slowing down you heart and respiratory rate.

Choosing songs with a slow and consistent beat can help stimulate delta wave activity and will encourage you to breathe in a similar rhythm. Look for songs with 60-80 beats per minute, which is the sweet spot for aiding relaxation. If you’re not sure how many beats are in your favourite track then you can use this handy tool to calculate it.

To really see the effects of music on your eight hours, carefully craft your before bed playlist with a mix of songs from genres with gentle rhythms and aim to go easy on the lyrics (language can perk us up and put us in the mindset to process information rather than zone out.) Songs that sample natural sounds like rainfall or ocean waves have the consistent rhythms that help us bliss out and are also top picks for tucking yourself in.

Here are a few suggestions for tunes to take you away

  • Sufjan Stevens
  • The most relaxing music in the world (according to composer Richard Wiseman)
  • Vitamin String Quartet
  • Sigur Ros
  • Ólafur Arnalds


Sweet dreams, Koalas.


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