Lullabies aren’t just for babies—they’re great for adults, too. Using soothing music to wind down before bed each night is perfectly acceptable—even encouraged—as a relaxation technique.
It turns out that bedtime listening can even help people with sleep disorders by boosting sleep quality and quantity. The benefits may not happen overnight—it can take as many as three weeks to see improvement—but listening to music pays off. Putting on some tunes can help you fall asleep faster, wake up less during the night, and feel more rested in the morning. Music can help sleepers of all ages, from toddlers through the elderly, at naptime and nighttime alike.
While the reasons why music can help you sleep better aren’t clear, it may have to do with the relaxing effect that a good song can have, or the fact that music may trigger feel-good chemicals in the brain. Music can have real physical affects, too, by lowering your heart rate and slowing your breathing.
Want to try it for yourself? Go for soothing songs that you like—specifically ones that have a slow rhythm of 60 to 80 BPM. The music streaming service Spotify, which recently polled its users’ “sleep” playlists to identify the top 20 songs for shuteye, found that British singer Ed Sheeran is currently the most popular artist to snooze to.
Familiar songs tend to work well, as do “easy listening” picks like classical, jazz, and folk music. It may help to experiment to see what works best for you. If you’re not sure how many beats-per-minute a certain song has, just enter the song title and the name of the artist into songbpm.com to find out. (You can also get a pretty good idea by listening to a song while looking at a stopwatch, since a song with 60 BPM has exactly one beat per second.) Then prepare to be rocked off to dreamland.