Music & Sleep

What Kind of Music Is Best For Sleep?

It’s natural to wonder about the best type of music for sleep. Research studies have looked at diverse genres and playlists and there isn’t a clear consensus about the optimal music for sleep. What we do know is that studies have typically used either a self-curated playlist or one that has been designed specifically with sleep in mind.

One of the most significant factors in how music affects a person’s body is their own musical preferences. Effective custom playlists may include songs that have been relaxing or that have helped with sleep in the past.

When designing a playlist, one factor to consider is the tempo. The tempo, or speed, at which music is played is often measured in the amount of beats per minute (BPM). Most studies have selected music that is around 60-80 BPM. Because normal resting heart rates range from 60 to 100 BPM, it’s often hypothesized that the body may sync up with slower music.

For those that don’t want to design their own playlist, online music services have stepped in and usually offer pre-packaged playlists for specific activities. Helpful playlists may be curated for sleep or relaxation. It may be easiest to find playlists that focus on calming genres, like classical or piano pieces.

Feel free to experiment with different songs and playlists until you find one that’s right for you. It may also be helpful to try out a few playlists during the daytime to see if they help you relax.
Music Therapy

While many people can benefit from making their own playlists or finding something pre-mixed, others may benefit from a more formal approach. Certified music therapists are professionals trained in using music to improve mental and physical health. A music therapist can assess a person’s individual needs and create a treatment plan that can involve both listening to and creating music. For more information on music therapy, talk with your doctor or visit the American Music Therapy Association.

Evolving Science About Music and Health

Interest in music’s effects on the body continues to grow, and major research programs are dedicated to uncovering new ways that music can benefit health. For example, in 2017 the National Institutes of Health partnered with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to announce the Sound Health Initiative. This program initiative supports research that focuses on the use of music in health care settings and has already funded several projects.

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