Is It Bad to Listen to Music While Sleeping?

According to data from Helsestart, more than a third of the adults in the USA have trouble falling asleep at least once per week. This solid 36 % is not equally distributed among ages and genders, as older adults and females are statistically more prone to sleep disorders. 

Difficulties falling asleep can arise due to different factors related to lifestyle and general health state. These include chronic stress, sensory overload, hormonal imbalance, and certain mental health conditions. In addition, poor screen time hygiene and nutritional deficiencies can worsen the situation, so you’ll have to approach the problem thoughtfully and holistically.

Once you’ve checked with your healthcare provider to address all potential physical and mental health reasons, you’ll probably look for a working solution for faster and better rest. And you’ll inevitably stumble upon the idea of using calming sleep music.

Can music make you fall asleep faster, is sleeping with music bad, and what should you be careful about when using this relaxation strategy? Find out in the paragraphs below!


Can Music Help You Sleep?

Music psychology researchers share an opinion on the subject, and their answer is absolutely positive – yes, music can help you sleep. In recent years, many scientists have found proof that listening to music at bedtime can help both fall asleep faster and improve general sleep quality.

So, here is the theory behind the facts:


  • The human brain is wired to respond to music on a purely physiological level. If you’re listening to calming beats of sleepy music, both your heart rate and your breathing rhythm will reflect the music, thus slowing down in harmony. 
  • Calm music induces relaxation and serves as a distraction from stressful thoughts. Once you let your mind sink into the sound, you can effectively avoid the overthinking and anxiety that keep you from relaxing. 
  • Music masks out distracting noises. If your environment is not exactly sleep-friendly or you’re just more sensitive towards sounds, playing a soothing sound can help your mind and body ease off.
  • Music can set a sleeping pattern. For example, if you play the same song (or the same playlist) every night when you go to bed, it will literally turn into a signal for your body, telling it that it’s time to chill out. 


Generally speaking, bedtime beats can be a game-changer for people who have difficulties falling asleep due to psychological and stress-related reasons. On the other hand, a physical condition like sleep apnea is unlikely to improve with just the right playlist. 

woman going to sleep while listening to music

Music Affects The Mind and Body

Music brings worlds along with it, and you already know that from your own experience. It can draw long-forgotten memories, wake up unexpected emotional responses, and even inspire life-changing decisions. Surely enough, it can also change our mood and make mind and body switch direction in just a matter of minutes. 

Another unique reaction to music is the activation of both the left and the right sides of the brain. This rarely occurring simultaneous boost makes you better at problem-solving and integrating logic with creativity. This long-proven effect of music on the mind has led to the creation of concentration and learning playlists, anxiety-soothing playlists, and music pieces for effective sleep aid. 


Last but not least, music helps lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, and lower cortisol levels in the body. It is an established form of therapy to help people address physical, emotional, social, and cognitive needs, including the need for better sleep. 


Influence of Music Over Mood

In fact, music is proven to alter the chemistry in the body by provoking a strong hormonal response. For example, listening to happy music will immediately boost your serotonin levels and neutralize stress hormones, making you feel brighter, more restful, and more positive. 

In case you’re asking yourself – no, it doesn’t necessarily mean listening to “Over the Rainbow” on repeat. Happy music sounds different for everyone, and your happy music is your choice exclusively. One song might trigger a positive mood in some while, in the meantime, significantly worsening the anxiety of others. 

So, when looking for your feel-good playlist, don’t compare yourself to others’ standards, but stick to your taste and emotionality instead. 

smartphone playing music on earbuds

What Kinds of Music Can You Listen To While Sleeping?

As you may already suggest, not every type of music will be a good choice for your bedtime relaxation routine. For example, listening to death metal or hardcore acid techno might be your piece of cake during the day, but they are definitely not recommended once you turn the lights off. 

Sleep experts have a short list of recommendations regarding your goodnight playlist, and they include the following:


  • Stick to relaxing sleep music with a slow and sustained duration of musical notes;
  • Choose lower frequencies measured at about 500 Hz and under;
  • Prefer stronger bass and moody, non-danceable rhythms;
  • Keep the volume under 40 decibels.

There are tons of ready-made sleep meditation music playlists you can choose from, including free and paid apps for non-pharmacological sleep induction. 


Are There Any Risks When Listening to Music at Night?

Although experts agree on the positive impact of music on sleep induction, they also agree on something else. And these are the inevitable risks that come with sleeping with your headphones on. 

Those risks include, for example:


  • Wearing in-ear plugs all night every night can lead to earwax buildup, infection, ear pain, and hearing loss.
  • Worsened blood flow due to tight on-ear headphones can lead to tissue necrosis in the areas of the ears, temple, and scalp.
  • When you play the music too loud, it can worsen your hearing and make it even harder to fall asleep.
  • Poor choice of music can increase your heart rate, impact your mood, and increase alertness and anxiety.
  • In children, sleeping with wired headphones or earplugs can lead to strangulation, though rather rare. 
  • Sleeping too close to your smartphone can increase body temperature and electromagnetic field impact, thus actually making it harder to fall asleep.


The best alternative for listening to deep sleep music in bed is using a wireless speaker and keeping your ears free from plugs. In addition, if you’re using your smartphone, it would be a good idea to put it on airplane mode during sleep to avoid notifications and interruptions. 

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