The best music to fall asleep to is arguably whatever you personally find most relaxing.
Having said that, it’s also arguably better to pick music that isn’t too energetic, or have dramatic changes in volume, tempo or style.
So it’s probably a lot easier for a lover of classical music to create a good nighttime playlist than a rock or metal fan!
But even classical music can start out peacefully, only to startle you with an unexpected crescendo.
So this is my extensively researched list of calm music for bedtime listening. I’ve split it into classical, contemporary classical, chill-out and ambient, and finally world music. Sorry, no rock for the time being.
I listen to music all day while working, and try to ensure there aren’t too many hidden surprises in the songs I pick. Hopefully the notes of music drifting into your ears will in turn help you drift off to sleep.
- Moonlight Sonata (Beethoven)
- Gymnopédie No.1 (Satie)
- Symphony 9, 3rd movement, Adagio molto e cantabile (Beethoven)
- Clair De Lune (Debussy)
- Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068 (Bach)
- Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major (Mozart)
- Serenade no.10 (Mozart)
- Adagio for Strings (Barber)
- Canon in D (Pachelbel)
- Méditation from the opera Thaïs (Massenet)
- Piano Quintet in A Major – 2, Andante (Schubert)
- Berlin Song (Einaudi)
- Piano Concerto in A minor (Grieg)
- Clarinet Quintet in B Minor (Brahms)
- Traumerei (Schumann)
- Sonata 16 C major (Mozart)
- Piano sonata No. 8 in C Minor. Op. 13 (Beethoven)
- Sonata No. 14 “Moonlight” (Beethoven)
- Ave Maria (Bach)
- Laudate Dominum (Mozart)
- Opus 20 and 23 (Dustin O’Halloran)
- Prelude 2 (Dustin O’Halloran) – I’m a huge O’Halloran fan when it comes to relaxing piano music!
- River Flows In You, Passing By (Yiruma)
- River Flows In You, Twilight (Yiruma)
- Nuvole Bianche (Ludovico Einaudi)
- Spiegel Im Spiegel (Pärt)
- The heart asks pleasure first (Michael Nyman)
- Ambre (Nils Frahm)
- Comptine d’un autre été, from Amelie (Yann Tiersen)
- In The Morning Light (Yanni)
- Seductive (Dominic Anderson)
- One Man’s Dream (Yanni)
- We Should Waltz (Kevin Kern)
- Waterfalls (Alexis Ffrench)
- Calm Seas (Philippe Sanderos)
- The Armed Man (Karl Jenkins)
- The End of All Our Exploring (Max Richter)
Chill-out and ambient
This playlist starts off with some relaxing, but upbeat chill-out. The second half slows things right down, with a brain entrainment album that should send you on your way to a peaceful night’s sleep.
- So Easy, Melody A.M. (Royskopp)
- The Promise (Ryan Farish)
- Structures from Silence (Steve Roach)
- Cafe Del Mar – they produce compilation 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.
- 14:31, from 76.14 (Global Communications)
- Structure of Ambient Life (Diatonis)
- Shpongle Falls, from Are you Sphongled (Simon Posford and Raja Ram)
- Earth Garden (Nanda)
- Shivai (Mantra Man)
- RCA (+) (Carbon Based Lifeforms)
- Cathedral Oceans (John Foxx)
- Complex Heaven (Brian Eno, John Hopkins & Leo Abrahams)
- Discreet Music (Brian Eno) – note that this is 32 minutes long!
- Music for Airports (Brian Eno) – another epic at 48 minutes long.
- Weightless Parts 1-6 (Marconi Union) – this was specifically written to be extremely relaxing. I’ve even heard it called the most relaxing song ever. It was also intended to be long enough for you to listen, relax and fall asleep to.
- A lovely Place To Be (Patrick O’Hearn)
- Bless This Morning Year (Helios)
- Pacific (Deep Divers)
- Glow Stick (Deep Divers)
- The Cage, Be My Baby (Deep Divers)
- A relevant Space (Sircle) – ethereal music specifically created for use in flotation tanks.
- A Lunar Descent (Sircle)
- Fearless (Future Zen)
- Deep Theta (Steven Halpern)
- Debe (Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté) – If you haven’t heard it before, I highly recommend the stunningly beautiful entire album ‘In the Heart of the Moon’.
- 800 (Mercan Dede)
- 18 Mayis (Mercan Dede)
- Amazonia (Deep Forest)
- Yeha-Noha (Sacred Spirit)
- Saxophone, Song of Miho (Paul Winter Consort)
- One Man’s Dream (Yanni)
- Djarimirri (Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu)
- Echoes of Time (R. Carlos Nakai)
- Compassion: Om Mane Padme Hum (The Gyuto Monks of Tibet)
- May It Be (Enya)
- Rain of Blessings (Lama Gyurme)
If you have any suggestions of relaxing music to add to any of these playlists, feel free to share your recommendations in the comments below.