After a long day's work, you should be tired and ready to fall into bed for a well-earned rest. But what happens when your body is tired but your brain won't play along? One of the best sleep remedies might involve your ears.
Common sense dictates that relaxing music can help you fall asleep more easily. After all, mothers have been singing bedtime songs to their babies for centuries, and they seem to work, right?
Scientists who have studied human sleep have also found empirical evidence that music can calm the mind and prepare your body for sleep. Listening to music has been proven to reduce your body's stress responses and improve the overall quality of your sleep. Best of all, it's practically free to try, as long as you own an MP3 player or a radio that you can use in your bedroom.
The Best Relaxing Music for Sleeping
So does it matter what kind of music you listen to before bedtime? While there's plenty of room for individual tastes to shine through, there are some general rules of thumb to follow to make sure your music is restful rather than rousing:
- Keep the volume low. You should definitely be able to have a quiet conversation over the music. Just make sure it's not so quiet that you're straining to hear it when the room is empty — that's irritating enough to keep you awake as you struggle to follow the melody.
- Keep the player within reach. If you're drifting off and would like to turn down the volume or even turn off the music, you'll want your radio within an arm's length. Getting up or fumbling with a dial will only wake you back up.
- Consider headphones designed for sleep. If you sleep with a partner who's not into your musical selections, headphones will be key. Ear buds will fall out and large versions will be too uncomfortable, so invest in flexible headphones designed for bedtime.
- Set aside an album's worth of time. Studies suggest that you'll need about 45 minutes of soothing music to put your brain on notice that it's time to relax, so create a playlist that's long enough to get the job done.
Once your basic equipment is in place, it's time to chose the right playlist to help you sleep. Try these ideas for a restful soundscape:
Conventional wisdom has always recommended classical music for sleeping, particularly Baroque pieces that don't have big fluctuations in dynamics — that is, it doesn't move from loud to soft frequently. Bach and Mozart are usually good choices, but anything with a slower pace and no lyrics could work. You can also try instrumental versions of songs you like — a Muzak station on Pandora would be perfect.
You know those CDs of New Age music that seem like they go on forever? Repetitive music is perfect for sleeping. The idea is that you'll get lost in the middle of the song and just drift away. Whether you choose music composed specifically as a sleep aid or try Celtic or Native American music, the slow pace and long songs make good choices.
It may take some experimenting to find the right combination of songs for your perfect playlist, but it's worth the effort. Once you train your brain to feel sleepy when a certain song plays, a good night's sleep could be just moments away.