Paradoxically though, if I play just the right kind music, I’ll sleep like a baby.
And even if I’m in the mood for total silence, I still like to listen to some relaxing music before going to bed to quieten my busy mind.
It’s important to choose your bedtime playlist wisely, unless you want to be rudely awoken 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.
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 listen to all of the songs.
I listen to music all day while writing, and regularly add new songs if I think they fit the playlist well. So don’t be surprised to find even more songs in the playlists than I’ve listed below.
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
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
Chill out and ambient
This playlist starts off with some relaxing, but upbeat chill out. Then the second half slows things right down, finishing with a brain entrainment album that should send you on your way to a peaceful night’s sleep.
1. So Easy, Melody A.M. by Royskopp (the whole album is also great for relaxation)
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. It’s also another epic)
16. A relevant Space by Sircle – ethereal music specifically created for use in flotation tanks.
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
Meditation music and nature sounds
If you need something even simpler than the above styles of music, you might like to try some meditation music or recordings of natural environments.
YouTube has countless videos of simple, synthesized meditation music, and recordings of natural settings like forests, oceans, rivers or thunderstorms. You can even find recordings that are 8+ hours long – enough to accompany you for an entire night.
And if you haven’t tried listening to white noise before, I recommend giving that a go too. It can help mask unwanted external sound, and also help you relax at night.
Do you have any songs I could add to any of these playlists? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
I’m particularly interested in hearing recommendations for country music, as a few readers have said they find it relaxing. It’s not a genre I know so well, so it would be great to get some suggestions.