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Can’t sleep? Maybe you just haven’t found the right tunes.
Mounting evidence has has shown that music can help with sleep issues of all kinds, calming the nervous system and helping you fall asleep faster. One study found that music therapy improved overall sleep quality and the ability to fall asleep faster in elderly patients, while another found that listening to classical music before bedtime significantly improved sleep quality in students.
Paying more attention to your sleep soundtrack could have major payoffs during your waking hours too. Quality sleep fuels every aspect of a healthy lifestyle, and the effects of sleep deprivation can range all the way from weight gain to heightened cancer risk — pretty scary stuff!
Even though the majority of Americans agree that sleep contributes to next-day performance, only 10% prioritize sleep “over other aspects of daily living,” according to the National Sleep Association. Planning out your sleep with the same amount of care you do your meals, workouts, or work tasks can reap huge benefits.
What Kind Of Music Is Best For Sleep?
Research shows that songs 60-80 beats per minute work best, as they help your heart rate slow down as you drift toward sleep. Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” which is 79 bpm, is the song found most often in Spotify users’ “sleep” playlists, according to the digital music service.
British band Marconi Union even composed a song specifically for sleep. Called “Weightless,” Mindlab International found the song to be the most scientifically proven to help people sleep. Mindlab researcher Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson told Inc.com, "'Weightless' was so effective, many women became drowsy and I would advise against driving while listening to the song because it could be dangerous."
While science can guide our music selections, music is ultimately a matter of personal preference. We wanted to know what people who knew health, wellness, and yes, music, had to say about music’s role in their lifestyle. So we asked them!
Meet The Music Experts
We rounded up a group of health bloggers, fitness instructors, and radio DJs to tell us about music’s role in their lives, from waking up to falling asleep and everything in between. Meet our panel:
A nationally recognized celebrity yoga and Pilates teacher, trusted wellness expert, and author, Kristin Mcgee has starred in over 100 fitness videos and is the proud mom to three beautiful boys.
As host of the popular Michael J Show on WMZQ, Michael J knows music, calling country music his “life's soundtrack.” He also knows the power of a good night’s sleep, having gone through our bedMATCH system to find the perfect mattress for him and his wife.
Taylor Walker is a Miami-based blogger, fitness instructor, model, and mom-to-be. More than 27,000 people follow her healthy, active lifestyle journey on Instagram and at her site, taylorwalkerfit.com.
Boston-based Nancy Chen helps people find their “own form of optimal health” with her inspirational posts on Instagram and helpful posts about food, lifestyle, and fitness on her blog, Approaching Paleo.
What Is Your Favorite Kind Of Music To Fall Asleep To, And Why?
Nancy has a dedicated sleep playlist for when she can't fall asleep, with Adele’s "Someone Like You" and Taylor Swift’s "Safe and Sound" competing for top billing. Kristin and Taylor also like to take it down a notch in the evenings, with Kristin listening to “classical music or James Taylor” and Taylor drifting off to melodic and instrumental music, like that of artists Josie O'Connor or Samuel Lindon.
“I am a light sleeper and need to listen to more meditative music in the evening, says Taylor. “Music is pure energy for me so if I am looking to slow down and shut my brain off my music to follow suit.”
Michael J switches between his favorite country tunes and soothing sleep sounds like ocean waves crashing or crickets, which he plays on his Amazon Echo. He credits his easy sleep transitions to more than just music though.
“To be honest,” he says, “after a long day, it doesn't take me very long to fall asleep on my new Mattress Warehouse Aireloom Maui edition mattress. It's so comfortable, I'm out in 3-5 minutes whatever Alexa is playing. My wife loves this mattress too. Thanks to the bedMATCH system we got the perfect mattress for us."
What Is Your Wake Up Alarm Song Or Playlist?
While there was more or less consensus around bedtime beats, wake-up songs were a different story!
Michael J starts his mornings with Chris Stapleton’s latest album, while Nancy sticks with an old favorite. Her wake-up alarm song, “Cardiac Arrest by Bad Suns, has been her go-to morning tune since her sophomore year of college.
Taylor prefers acoustic music in the morning. “My husband loves rap and stronger beats early in the morning,” she said, “but I need a minute to stretch and connect with the day.”
Kristin’s morning wake-up call is music of a different kind in the form of her twins’ early-morning noises. Once the boys are up, she likes to turn on the Laurie Berkner band or Taylor Swift.
How Does Music Affect Your Energy Levels?
“Music affects my energy levels a lot!” Nancy said.
“Upbeat, fast-paced music gives me energy. I like music with a steady beat when I'm working. and classical music when I really need to concentrate. I like acoustic covers or songs with a lot of piano background for relaxing.”
Taylor tends to agree. “I was a dancer for many years and music is still a driving force that gets me from day to day. We always have music playing throughout our home.”
Music is a driving force for Michael J as well. “Music is my life,” he said. “Nothing speaks more directly to people than country music. It's real life with a melody. Being a country fan, it's my life's soundtrack. Love playing it a little louder than my wife prefers on weekend mornings too!”
Taylor’s advice? Let the music move you! “Music can pump you up or relax you, so I believe you should have a playlist for every mood,” she said.
“If you hit an afternoon lull, pump up the jams and have a five-minute dance party. Your body and your mind will thank you!”