Relaxing Music to Help You Sleep
Most people prefer silence when it comes to getting some shut-eye, but for some of you, silence doesn't help, and instead you need calming music to help you sleep. And of course there are times when it's impossible to have silence as much as you would like it, so music is the best alternative: flights, car or train journeys, campsites or beaches for example. Or even just a middle of the day nap if you can't escape the sounds of traffic, family or neighbors.
What Makes Music Good to Sleep to?
In my article Music To Fall Asleep To - The Classical List, I set out some rules which stipulated what made one piece of music great for relaxing or falling asleep to. This is because classical music varies enormously in terms of how relaxing it is or not. It is much easier with Chill-out and ambient music though, as it is pretty much across the board designed to be relaxing. The main problem though is that a lot of chill-out and ambient tips towards the euphoric end of sound, which in itself can have the reverse effect and stimulate the mind too much. This is pretty subjective though, so you may find you need to filter out music from this list if it is too euphoric for you to fall asleep to.
Also, whereas with classical music you need to pick and choose individual songs, chill-out and ambient music often comes in entire albums which makes it potentially much easier to create a play-list of good music to fall asleep to. You can just pick one album from this list and you'll have enough music to hopefully fill the time it takes to send you into your dream world.
So without further ado, here is my hand picked list of good music to fall sleep to that falls (roughly!) under the chill-out and ambient categories. Please take a moment to answer the short poll question about relaxation music, and then enjoy exploring the music below. You can also see my list of calming music that discusses relaxing world music from around the globe.
Discreet Music by Brian Eno
We start with an old piece of ambient music, written in 1975 by Brian Eno, who remains one of the most influential ambient music composers of all time. I recommend just the 30 minute first track of the album for sleeping to; mainly because it could be seen as quite boring and placid - perfect for not engaging the brain and helping you drift off. It never received rave reviews for musical quality - perhaps in part because it is based on only 4 notes, but it does work very well as a relaxing bedtime tune. You may need to skip 30 seconds as the intro is almost inaudible.
If you like this album, also check out 'Music for Airports' from 1978, the first of Eno's ambient series.
Melody AM by Royskopp
The 2001 debut album by the Norwegian duo that makes Royskopp, it was number 1 in the charts in Norway at its peak, 9 in the UK, an 18 in the US. If the songs don't make you think of the TV commercials that have featured them, then it remains a fantastic chill-out album to unwind and fall asleep to.
From The Sky by Ryan Farrish
If you've had a long and stressful day and you need a bit of positivity infused into your nighttime relaxation music, then Ryan Farrish may just fit the bill. He is a prolific musician, and this song is just one of many fine examples of upbeat electronic music he has produced. Whilst he doesn't always get great reviews from critics, his almost new-age instrumental style proved very popular over the years. If you like melodic piano sounds, this one is for you.
Steve Roach has created an enormous quantity of brilliant ambient music. You would need a lot of time just to listen to his albums alone. This is just one example from many, many great chill-out tunes.
Café Del Mar
Café Del Mar is a bar in Ibiza and the name to some incredible chill-out compilations. They have been producing them since 1994 and continue to this day. You can find famous artists like Moby alongside lesser known ambient and chill-out artists across the many albums. Volume 7 is an ever popular one, and this next song is the first track on it. But if you want a good mixture of chill-out artists to explore, you could do worse than to make your way through the extensive Café Del Mar series.
Memories from a Fading Room by Future Loop Foundation
Chilled, warm, upbeat and inspired. A great album to wash away your worries, put your stresses to one side and gently send you to sleep.
76.14 by Global Communications
Released in 1994, this was the debut album from Global Communications and is still revered as a true masterpiece of ambient music. Don't be fooled by its age - the sound is as current and fresh as you could wish for. It is totally unique, and with a 'tick-tock' sound running throughout the album could either be perfect or disastrous for falling asleep - you'll have to decide for yourself.
Ambient Life by Diatonis
An album that apparently took 2 years to create is far more subtle and intelligent than first appears. It is so smooth and slow that any smoother or slower and it would just be one continuous note. If you need your relaxation music at the extreme end of the non-engaging scale, then look no further.
Are you Sphongled by Simon Posford and Raja Ram
This is the 1998 debut album from the music project of Simon Posford and Raja Ram - Sphongle. In the psychedelic trance scene, and sometimes beyond, it remains one of the most highly regarded ambient albums of all time. If you have never heard any of Sphongle's work before, then the chances are you will have never heard anything quite like it. If you don't want to listen to the long and slow intro, skip to the 3:40 mark to get a good taste of their style.
Butterfly Dawn - various artists
Continuing from Sphongle is another psychedelic chill-out album. Butterfly Dawn is a compilation from the label Liquid Sound Design. They have released many compilations, but this remains one of the best. If you don't find this kind of music too stimulating, then it's great for falling asleep to after a club night.
World of Sleepers by Carbon Based Lifeforms
CBL is a Swedish duo, and this is their third album, released in 2006. It is a very soothing and celestial soundscape that is great to fall asleep to if you need a little bit of pace in your ambient music whilst still retaining a smooth flow.
Cathedral Oceans by John Foxx
There are 3 Cathedral Oceans albums, released in 1997, 2003 and 2005. It is very soothing and transporting ambient music.
Opalescent by John Hopkins
Released in 2010, Opalescent is fresh, innovative and beautiful. The first song on the album is simply stunning.
The end of the list
So that concludes my list of chill-out and ambient music that hopefully will give you some new ideas for your playlist to help you sleep. I have missed out some classic ambient artists (for example KLF and Biosphere) but this was mainly to preserve the theme of music that helps you sleep rather than gets your fingers tapping out rhythms on the mattress.
Please leave comments and suggest your favorite chill-out and ambient music that helps you sleep and I will grow the list over time.
A great website for discovering new ambient music
Angela Topping on June 25, 2018:
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts! Lovin’ the recommendations. Sending you sunny vibes from Sydney :)
Sarah on June 10, 2018:
Thank you for this list! I love Royksopp and Brian Eno, so I bet I’ll appreciate the rest of your suggestions.
I would add Amethystium to this list. Odonata is the album to check out. I have fallen asleep to it hundreds of times. This music is great for meditation, as well.
Michal from Czech Republic on July 31, 2015:
Hello, thank you so much for sharing this list of music. Refreshing and wonderful.
Jessica Goldman from Los Angeles on August 19, 2012:
glad you like them!
Ethan Green (author) from England on August 19, 2012:
Thanks for these suggestions goldmanjessica. I'm not sure they fit into this particular list, but a future one with a different style of music might have a place. I hadn't heard of Milo Greene before, and really enjoyed checking them out. Thanks for that:-)
Jessica Goldman from Los Angeles on August 17, 2012:
Milo Greene or Cider Sky!