The Best Music To Sleep To: My Favorites + Spotify Playlists

image of a beach with relaxing music written in the sandIf you’re anything like me, the sound of a dripping tap 3 houses away could keep you awake at night.

Paradoxically though, if I play just the right kind music, I’ll sleep like a baby.

Even if I’m in the mood for total silence, I still sometimes listen to some relaxing music before sleeping to quieten my busy mind.

I’ve found it’s important to choose the songs wisely though – unless you want to be kept awake by sudden volume, tempo or style changes.

So this is my extensively researched list of the best music to sleep to. I’ve split it into classical, contemporary classica, chill-out and ambient, and finally world music.

I hope there’s something here that’s new to you, and with so many different songs, albums, artists and composers here, there’s bound to be something that can help you drift off to sleep.

And due to popular request in the comments below, I’ve now created Spotify playlists for each category so you can access all the songs here easily.

I have to confess each playlist now has more songs than I’ve listed here. I listen to music all day while writing, and regularly add new songs if I think they fit the playlist well.

So if you do check them out, don’t be surprised to find even more songs there.

Enjoy!

Classical music

1. Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven

2. Gymnopédie No.1 by Erik Satie

3. Symphony 9, 3rd movement, Adagio molto e cantabile by Ludwig van Beethoven

4. Clair De Lune – by Claude Debussy

5. Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068 by Johann Sebastian Bach

6. Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

7. Serenade no.10 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

8. Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber

9. Canon in D by Pachelbel

10. Méditation from the opera Thaïs by Jules Massenet

11. Piano Quintet in A Major – 2, Andante by Franz Schubert

12. Berlin Song by Einaudi

13. Piano Concerto in A minor by Edvard Grieg

14. Clarinet Quintet in B Minor by Johannes Brahms

Listen to the Spotify playlist >>


Contemporary classical

1. Opus 23 by Dustin O’Halloran

2. Opus 20 by Dustin O’Halloran

3. Prelude 2 by Dustin O’Halloran

(I’m a huge Dustin O’Halloran fan when it comes to relaxing piano music!)

4. River Flows In You, Passing By by Yiruma

5. River Flows In You, Twilight By by Yiruma

6. Nuvole Bianche By Ludovico Einaudi

7. Spiegel Im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt

8. The heart asks pleasure first by Michael Nyman

9. Ambre by Nils Frahm

10. Comptine d’un autre été, from Amelie by Yann Tiersen

Listen to the Spotify playlist >>


Chill-out and ambient

This playlist starts off with some relaxing, but upbeat chill-out. But the second half slows things right down, finishing with a brain entrainment album that should put the finishing touches on your journey to a peaceful night’s sleep.

1. So Easy, Melody A.M. by Royskopp (the whole album is also great for relaxing to)

2. The Promise, From The Sky by Ryan Farish

3. Structures from Silence by Steve Roach

4. Cafe Del Mar – they produce mix albums, with lots of great chill-out. On the playlist I’ve included an ambient remix of Gymnopédie No.1 by Erik Satie, Summer Sun by Chris Coco and Troya by Rue du Soleil to give some examples. If you like these, you might enjoy exploring more of Cafe Del Mar’s albums.

5. 14:31, from 76.14 by Global Communications

6. Structure of Ambient Life by Diatonis

7. Shpongle Falls, from Are you Sphongled by Simon Posford and Raja Ram

8. Earth Garden by Nanda

9. Shivai by Mantra Man

10. RCA (+) by Carbon Based Lifeforms

11. Cathedral Oceans by John Foxx

12. Complex Heaven by Brian Eno, John Hopkins & Leo Abrahams

13. Discreet Music by Brian Eno (note that this is 32 minutes long!)

14. Music for Airports – Brian Eno (and this one is 48 minutes…)

15. Weightless by Marconi Union (this was specifically written to be as extremely relaxing. I’ve even heard it called the most relaxing song ever. Oh, and it’s 42 minutes long!)

16. A relevant Space by Sircle – ethereal music specifically created for use in flotation tanks.

Listen to the Spotify playlist >>


World music

1. Debe, from In the Heart of the Moon by Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté

2. 800 and also 18 Mayis by Mercan Dede

3. Saxophone (Song of Miho) by Paul Winter Consort

4. One Man’s Dream by Yanni

5. Djarimirri by Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

6. Amazonia by Deep Forest

7. Yeha-Noha by Sacred Spirit

8. Echoes of Time by R. Carlos Nakai

9. Compassion: Om Mane Padme Hum by The Gyuto Monks of Tibet

Listen to the Spotify playlist >>


Meditation music and nature sounds

If you need something even simpler than the above styles of music, then you can always do an online search for meditation music or sounds of nature.

YouTube has countless videos, some lasting hours, of simple synthesized calm meditation music, and also videos of natural settings like forests, oceans, rivers or thunderstorms.

If you haven’t tried listening to white noise before, then I also recommend you give that a go. It can effectively block out unwanted external sound, and also help you relax at night.

Your recommendations

Do you have any songs I could add to any of these playlists? Are there any you think I should remove from them because you didn’t find them relaxing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

62 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Thank you for your suggestions.
    What usually help me is the album Ommadawn by Mike Oldfield. His original Tubular Bells sometimes also do the trick, but has some noisy parts.

  • One song I love to listen to is imagine by John Lenon. Another good song is This is gospel by panic at the disco. ps. it needs to be the piano version

  • I haven’t listened to any of your songs yet, but for me, country music seems to put me to sleep, pretty easily. But it’s better if you listen too the slower kind of coundry music, as it’s more calm and relaxing

    • Hi Scott
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t have any country on this list – as far as I can remember! I’m not very knowledgeable about the genre, so if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Try contemporary “post minimalist/ambient” classical composer Max Richter’s
    8 hour!
    dvd album
    “Sleep”.
    This was premiered in a concert hall in London providing sleeping bags instead of seats.

    There is a 1 hour version on DGG Records that will give you an idea. Very calm combination of simple piano and string sounds/notes, with a more or less droning voice. Very calmative. Also not bad music.

    cioue
    from
    Sleepless in Tulsa
    (‘klonopin-withdrawal insomnia rebound’)

    • Hi Gerardo
      Thanks for your comment. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this one before! I’m listening to it now on Youtube, and hoping I don’t fall asleep while replying to comments here…
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I feel that others may think this is odd, but listening to Bon Jovi, AC/DC and Guns n’ Roses style of music helps me fall asleep by taking my mind off of stuff.

    • Hi there
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t think it’s weird at all! Just because some music doesn’t necessarily fall into the general category of ‘relaxing’ doesn’t mean that some people do find it relaxing!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Also Sigur Rós. I love the album (). It is commonly called “untitled”. It is dark, melancholy and haunting but oddly comforting.

  • Check out the album Rain of Blessings by Lama Gyurme & Jean Philippe Rykiel. Amazing. And I love Dustin O’Halloran as well. Used to go see Devics play often a long time ago. Cheers and sweet dreams.

  • I was wondering if you can listen to any kind of music? can it hurt your brain cells, and make you loose memories and make you less smarter?

  • Global Communication 14:31 (I just roll the entire 76:14 release) with rainymood.com has never failed me. In fact, it’s 10:35 PM now, and time to go night-night…. Guess what’s rolling.

    Try it – you’ll be asleep before you know it.

  • i listen to rap and it helps me fall asleep at lot but in the morning i listen to rock music to make me wake up. Nothing better than someone screaming random words and loud drums in the background in the morning.

  • Thank you for your list. My two favorite CD’s for falling asleep are Brian Eno & Harold Budd ‘Ambient 2 – The Plateaux of Mirror’ and Popol Vuh ‘Hosianna Mantra’.

  • I know this may sound crazy but I love to listen to pop like on Spotify best playlists this year makes me extremely tired

    • Hi James
      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the playlists. Your link works fine, and I’m listening to the playlist right now. It’s great, so thanks for taking the time to share it.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Great article, love the ambient suggestions, I can only really use them because you can let them wash over you without having to focus on vocals or distinct tunes. I either stick on a youtube playlist or a site like jukedeck/play, it writes continuous ambient music so I don’t worry about changing tracks in the middle of the night.

    • Hi Doug
      Thanks for your comment. Maybe you could try spotify and try the study/relaxation section and look at what they have for pop and rock. You can find playlists with very relaxing music of those genres, which you might enjoy more.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Classical music is also very helpful when I need to work and stay focused. However, I haven’t tried it for sleeping. I am going to give it try for sure. Interesting article!

    • I agree! Playlist links would be great. Also maybe add another batch sometime with recent releases and more great tracks from timeless genres. Also for world can u specify where in the world each track is from?

      I have always needed a fan on or music to fall asleep and now my two year old needs it to stay asleep. I’ve explored some streamed albums on my iPhone but we overuse the few we liked and others were just ok. She likes Celtic lullabies and traditional Irish songs that are soft, not boozy lol, Celtic harp. Classical is good if u know what ur listening to. It’s so emotional and expressive and I don’t know particular albums or artists well enough to know if it sounds peaceful at first it won’t startle me forty minutes later.

      To other commenters:
      Anyone find some good playlists you can link me to? Any one have suggestions from other genres? alternative, indie, emo rock. punk (sounds odd but there’s many subgenres that are more melodic and slower and possibly acoustic like folk punk, as well as individual songs by bands, including some that they have put out for their children, or sometimes alive song), hip hop even, pop and by top 40 artists not necessarily recent.

      So far I’ve really liked an album I found on my iPhone by a man named Chris richter who does relaxing acoustic versions of popular alternative and indie songs. But o need a break

      • Hi Rae
        Thanks for the reminder that I still need to get round to updating this article! I’ve been so busy, it keeps getting pushed down the list. Hopefully at some point I’ll get round and take on board these suggestions. In the meantime, let’s hope other readers have some ideas for you.
        Regards
        Ethan

  • I have found that Native American flute music is very soothing in my personal opinion. I have started trying that and it has helped me to not lay wide awake for hours. I would suggest you try that if nothing above works. Classical island ambient noise are my second and third choices.

  • Of late I have not been able to get ample sleep mostly after 12. all I hear are footsteps from outside so what I do is wake up my boyfriend to keep me company. At times it hits there are people outside trying to reach out to me. I try listening to music and it doesn’t even help. So please help

    • Hi Valentine,

      Are the footsteps you hear and the feeling people are trying to reach out only happening while you are in bed trying to sleep? And do you know if there are people actually there, or are you hearing these noises when they aren’t there? It may be that you are experiencing some kind of sleep disorder which I have other articles on in this website. But you would need to give more information to offer any ideas.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Guess that I’m the type who needs silence to sleep because generally if I listen to music whilst trying to fall asleep I find myself getting ‘excited’ as I enjoy the music too much, which results in me staying up to listen to it!!! However I have not tried to listen to any of the music that you have listed above so will maybe give some of those a try… especially interested in the ambient noises of a thunderstorm (i like rain!!) …Anything to get a little more sleep! I’ll let you know how I get on. Cheers Ethan.

    • Hi Buffey
      I think you’re completely right about music having the potential to keep you awake if it is too engaging. For some people, music is just not an option to fall asleep to. You may find natural sounds like thunderstorms and rain work for you. Let me know how you get on.
      Ethan

    • Unless it’s ambient, I listen to an album or playlist that I know every single track or an instrumental version, it helps ease the excitement. I can’t wonder what song is next and either there’s no lyrics or I know them do well that it’s almost like counting sheep

  • Thank you for such an interesting and helpful choice of relaxing music. Classical music is my choice, especially when I need to relax either with sleep or problem solving as this always puts my mind into a better place to focus thoughts.

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