Rest

How Music Can Help You Fall Asleep

Getting good, restful sleep is important for your overall wellbeing (like improving your mood, reducing stress and even your increasing physical fitness), but there are so many things that can affect how well we sleep at night. Read on for how music has been proven to help the quality of shut eye you get at night, and try the ‘Sleep Sounds: Drift’ discovery in the adidas All Day App to see how the right music can help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.

The science

Some music can make you want to jump up and dance (pretty much any Beyoncé song), but you can also use certain tunes to wind down at night. In fact, researchers in Denmark reviewed a collection of studies and found that listening to slow, relaxing music can improve your ability to fall asleep. And Taiwanese researchers found that this holds true even for people who suffer from chronic insomnia.

"Listening to soothing music at nocturnal sleep time prolonged REM sleep."

You won’t want the music to play all night – that could ultimately be disrupting if you wake up at 3:00am and it’s still going – but you do want to play it for 20 to 45 minutes or so as you prepare for bed. That’s enough time to reduce anxiety (the sound can take your mind off whatever stressed you out that day) and, according to research in the Indian Heart Journal, lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In that state, you are less aroused, so sleep can come a lot more easily.

The playlist.

So, what should you listen to? A great place to start is the Sleep Sounds in the adidas All Day app. Created by DJ Nina Las Vegas, the app has lots of options for songs that can boost your drowsiness level.

“Music has been with me forever – my parents were both really into it,” she says. “I learned piano and played in bands all through high school, then dived straight into DJing and producing when i moved to Sydney from my home town of Wagga Wagga. When creating the soundtrack for Sleep Sounds, I read a lot of research – I had no idea it was so well-loved and needed by so many people. I even listen to it myself to fall asleep!”

How Music Can Help You Fall Asleep
Credit: Michelle Tran

Beyond the songs found on the app, the most important thing is to choose something you enjoy. Even the most relaxing song won’t help you fall asleep if it annoys you to listen to it. Classical music works especially well, but other soft songs are great too. The main thing is that the tempo of the music is between 60 and 80 beats per minute (you can find a song’s beats per minute at songbpm.com.) This tempo is ideal for helping your body and mind relax.

"For some, music may also reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn can lower heart rate and blood pressure."

You also could go with something that has a smooth melody and repetitive rhythm. That’s why Native American and Celtic music is so good at preparing you for sleep (the same goes for music with stringed instruments and flutes). It doesn’t have to be a song – sounds of rain, thunder, and waves lapping can also help you feel more relaxed. Listen to the nature sounds alone or mixed with jazz, classical, and folk music – anything that would be classified as “easy listening” should do the trick.

For Nina Las Vegas, even background sounds of people talking is helpful. “If I’m really struggling to fall asleep, I listen to podcasts and drift off to the sound of talking,” she says. “As a kid, I used to love listening to my parents talk late at night, so I think that’s where that comes from.”

What else can help.

If you try music and it doesn’t help you fall asleep, think about combining it with other relaxation methods. Use lavender scented essential oils or try progressive muscle relaxation or visualization while the songs are playing. And remember: What music is great at is helping you quiet your mind and relax your body so that you are in the right stage to fall asleep. You may need up to three weeks of pre-sleep music each evening before you feel like you’re getting a better nights sleep.