Sleep Music: A Guide to Relaxing Tones for Slumber

The right meditative sounds can lull you into deep sleep. The best sleep music helps create optimal sleep conditions so you can get that restorative sleep your body craves. Try these sleep music ideas to help quiet your mind and drift off into dreamland.

Sleep Music for Bedtime - Get Better Sleep

The Best Sleep Music

In general, the best sleep music provides a slow & steady bedtime soundtrack without too much variation in pitch or volume. Sleep music masks the modern sounds that may otherwise distract you and send your mind racing. The goal is to create a steady ambient background sound so that other sounds don’t “stick out” so much.

Sleep Music Basics

The best sleep music generally falls into one of four categories:

  1. Soothing Classical Music
  2. Tranquil Nature Sounds
  3. Calming Sung Lullabies
  4. Peaceful Spoken Stories

Different types of sleep music work better for different people. Not everyone responds the same way. Spend a week trying out sleep music from each of the categories above to find what works best for you. You may find that a certain type of sleep music, at a certain volume, puts you to sleep like a charm!

SLEEP TIP: Remember that if it makes you feel energetic, makes you tap your toes, or makes you feel a strong emotional reaction, it’s probably not soothing enough for bedtime.

Music for Sleeping - Relaxing Classical Music

Sleep Music: Soothing Classical Instrumental Music

Classical sleep music provides a consistent and soothing soundtrack at bedtime (and even throughout the night). Soothing instrumental music with a hum or a drone works very well. For sleep-specific purposes, look for music where the soundscape is even, without loud “peaks” and quiet “valleys”. The National Sleep Foundation recommends choosing soothing songs with slow rhythms, between 60 to 80 beats per minute.

Here are some ideas for classical sleep music:

  • Lullaby, by Johannes Brahms
  • Song Without Words Op. 30 No. 3, by Felix Mendelssohn
  • Trois Gymnopédies, by Erik Satie
  • Nocturne No. 20 in C Sharp Minor, by Frédéric Chopin
  • The Swan (Le cygne, Le carnaval des animaux), by Camille Saint-Saëns
  • Ave Maria, J.S. Bach/Gounod
  • Vocalise, by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Relaxing classical music is an effective intervention in reducing sleeping problems.

Above all, choose relatively calm music for your sleep playlist. Save the powerful opera music and other classical pieces with significant dynamics for the daytime! Perhaps they can be on your wake-up playlist.

Sleep Music: Tranquil Nature Sounds

Nature sounds create a lovely white noise that masks the sound of various interruptions. Sleep music based on nature sounds is generally selective in that only calming sounds are included. Any variations in the sound are gradual rather than abrupt.

Here are some tranquil nature sounds used in sleep music:

  • Ocean Waves
  • Running Stream
  • Falling Raindrops
  • Crickets Chirping

Sleep music with these (and other) nature sounds is available on Youtube, iTunes, and apps such as

Colors of Nature Noises for Sleeping

While white noise is common, other colors of noise from nature with a little more bass may help with sleeping:

“Pink noise is often found in nature, such as waves lapping on the beach, leaves rustling in the trees, or a steady rainfall. Brown noise is even more skewed toward the lower frequencies, so the sound is deep, like the sound of thunder or the low roaring of a waterfall.”

Apps like Simply Noise or Noisli can play nature noise for you in various colors.

For more information about how recorded natural sounds can promote sleep, check out this sleep study.

Some nature soundtracks have been specifically designed as sleep music, and combine soothing nature sounds with calming instrumental melodies. These can work especially well if you like nature sounds but your partner prefers classical music.

Sleep Music: Calming Sung Lullabies

Some of us just aren’t into recorded nature sounds or classical music. For some people, a calm and steady human voice is the ticket. If there’s no one around to sing to you, there are wonderful recorded sung lullabies to help you go to sleep. You can also learn these lullabies yourself and sing them to your little ones (your voice is their favourite…no matter how well you sing!).

Here are some folk lullabies and lullabies from movies:

Here are some pop songs that could be sung as a lullaby:

  • In My Life (The Beatles)
  • Time After Time (Cindi Lauper)
  • What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)

If you’d rather listen to a recording, here are some pop songs that might work as sleep music:

  • Flume, Bon Iver
  • Higgs Boson Blues, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  • Bird Stealing Bread, Iron & Wine

You can also record family members singing their favourite lullabies. I recorded about a dozen songs sung by my Grandma, and my kids still love listening to them! I’m so glad we have them recorded.

Sleep Music - How and What to Listen to Relaxing Music

Sleep Music: Peaceful Spoken Bedtime Stories

Kids love bedtime stories, and there’s no reason why adults can’t enjoy them too. The steady sound of the human voice can help lull even a grown adult to slumber.

Some bedtime stories have quiet ambient sounds playing while others are just a calm voice. It’s like reading, but you don’t have to actually read (or keep your eyes open).

We’re not talking audiobooks here. We’re talking stories meant for bedtime. I find the best bedtime stories for sleepiness are ones where nothing much really happens. ….(I must remember to record my parents telling their favourite bedtime stories!).

Calm offers bedtime stories on their app. My favourite is Wonder, which is read by Matthew McConaughey. It’s the sleepy story about a child watching the stars in the night sky with her grandfather.

Guided meditations for sleep aren’t exactly bedtime stories, but they can have a similar effect as long as they have a steady, relaxing tone. Both and offer guided meditations designed for better sleep.

SLEEP TIP: Before trying out different types of sleep music, make sure your bedroom environment is optimal for sleep! It should be quiet, dark, and cool. Set the thermostat to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.5 degrees Celcius). Clear the clutter before going to bed. Refrain from painting your bedroom bright colours. Put tech away an hour before bedtime. Cover or remove any little blinking lights. Invest in airy, comfortable bedding and pyjamas (I LOVE my sleep socks…so amazing).

Creating a Relaxing Sleeping Environment with Calm Music

How to Play Sleep Music in Your Bedroom

There are a few ways to play sleep music in your bedroom:

  • iPhone speaker
  • iPad speaker
  • Sonos speaker
  • Bluetooth speaker

Try whatever is easiest for you. Once you’ve played sleep music for a few nights, try using your iPhone or Sonos alarm settings to have sleep music play automatically starting at a certain bedtime. Then you won’t even have to press play!


Mary is a Mom of two who manages to find a few minutes here and there to write for you guys on this web site!

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