man listening to music with headphones

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AARHUS, Denmark — A Billie Eilish track is among the best music to fall asleep to, a new study looking at Spotify reveals. Researchers from Aarhus University say “Lovely” — the singer’s duet with Khalid and featured in the Netflix drama series “13 Reasons Why” — helps people who have trouble sleeping to nod off.

Results also show that the upbeat track “Dynamite” by South Korean boyband BTS is also among the surprising tunes that help people drift off to sleep. The research team analyzed more than 200,000 Spotify tracks to explore the features of music that people fall asleep to.

They identified several characteristics typical of music associated with sleep, such as being quieter and slower than other music. However, some popular sleep music playlists on Spotify also include faster, louder, and more energetic tracks.

“In this study, we investigated the characteristics of music used for sleep and found that even though sleep music in general is softer, slower, instrumental and more often played on acoustic instruments than other music, the music people use for sleep displays a large variation including music characterized by high energy and tempo,” the study authors write in a media release.

Many people say they listen to music to help them fall asleep. This raises the question of whether the songs people choose share certain characteristics which help the brain and body relax. Until now, studies on this topic have been relatively small and limited in scope.

The Danish team analyzed 225,626 tracks from 985 playlists on Spotify that have a connection to sleep. They used Spotify’s API to compare the features of the sleep-related tracks to music from a dataset representing music in general.

Results show that sleep music tends to be quieter and slower than other songs. It typically lacks lyrics and more often features acoustic instruments as well.

Despite the trends, the team notes that “considerable diversity” in the musical features of sleep-related songs. In fact, they discovered six distinct sub-categories. Three of the sub-categories, including ambient music, line up with the typical characteristics of sleep music.

Music in the other three sub-categories, however, was louder and had more energy than the average sleepy track. These tracks included “Dynamite” and “Lovely.” The researchers believe that, despite their higher energy, these popular songs may aid relaxation and sleep for some people who are more familiar with the tracks.

However, more research is necessary to explore that possibility and identify the various reasons different people choose different songs for sleeping. Overall, the study suggests that there is no “one-size-fits-all” playlist when it comes to sleep.

“The study can both inform the clinical use of music and advance our understanding of how music is used to regulate human behavior in everyday life,” the team concludes.

The findings are published in the journal PLoS ONE.

South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.

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4 Comments

  1. Bob says:

    I want to go to sleep not have nightmares.

  2. Roy says:

    I prefer Billy Idol and BTO.

  3. PJ says:

    My kids listen to Mrs. Honeybee to fall asleep, and I must confess that I do too…I’m asleep within 10 minutes

  4. Al Baker says:

    Has anyone tried “Weightless”. Supposedly its scientifically engineered to calm heart rates.