According to the National Sleep Foundation, listening to 45 minutes of calming music can help improve sleep. The trick, however, is to find music that is drastically different from what you listen to during the day. You have to be able to disengage from it to silence your thoughts. The thing that keeps us up or wakes us is not noise itself, but harsh changes in volume (why an alarm or slamming door can disturb sleep). Playing nature sounds, white noise, or ambient music can help create a consistent noise level in the room. Ideally, you’d listen to instrumentals with very little or slow rhythm - something like ambient music or rain sounds. While some use a sleep sounds app, you could also look to streaming platforms. Create a long playlist to be played on repeat while you rest (or use ours). Ready to get sleepy? Light a candle, have some tea, and check out the best sleep sounds by some of our favorite ambient music artists. 



Brian Eno is a producer who actually first coined the term “ambient.” He describes this style of music as being able “to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular. It must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” “An Ending (Ascent)” off of the album Apollo does just that. It’s synth, string and vocal sounds slowly switch between cadences. There’s just the right amount of bass, and the chill tempo is enough to put your mind at ease.



Aphex Twin has the ability to hype you up and help you relax. We’re going for the latter. Working as a DJ in the 80s acid house scene, Aphex Twin became immersed in creating acid techno. Over time, he pushed what could be created with electronic instruments, dipping into the ambient world. In 1994, Aphex Twin released an album of ambient works, my favorite track being “#3.” Going between major and minor, we hear what feels like thousands of layers for nearly 8 minutes. It’s melodic enough to enjoy should you choose to focus on it, but spacey enough to drift off to.



Icelandic avant garde musicians Sigur Rós are able to paint a vivid picture with few words. Formed in the mid 90s, Sigur Rós has toured the world and collaborated with artists like Radiohead. Known for the use of an e-bow, the band is able to achieve this string-fusion-electric guitar sound that feels both meditative and larger than life. On Sigur Ros Presents Liminal Sleep, the band makes a more ambient turn, delivering two hours of music for sleep. A slow burn, “Sleep 6” won’t wake you up, but offers slow changes and builds.



Helios is the project of composer and producer Keith Kenniff. Having graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2006, Kenniff went on to successfully release music within the indie and ambient genres under the names Goldmund and Mint Julep. Off of his 2018 Helios release Veriditas, “Seeming” grows and allows space for breath and relaxation, making it the perfect transition song to end the day with.



Experimental rock band Radiohead dips into the atmospheric, ambient world on “Treefingers,” and as Kid A turned 20 last month, the band released an extended version. Utilizing various guitar pedals, “Treefingers” explodes into layers of reverb and delay. Coming in halfway through Kid A, “Treefingers” allows a moment to breathe, reflect, or zone out.


Honorable Mention:


While not technically a song, “Box Fan Sound” crept into thousands of Spotify 2019 Wrapped reports. The nearly 10 minute track has garnered over 51 million streams. While fan sounds are more similar to white noise and pink noise, the effect is similar to ambient music. Tmsoft’s White Noise Sleep Sounds has also released various air conditioner sounds, the box fan on different settings, rain sounds, and calming sleep sounds.

Sit back, relax, and set a neutral soundscape in your room. While some people need total silence to sleep, many benefit from creating a sonically balanced atmosphere. When making your ambient sleep playlist, remember to only add songs and sounds that stay at a consistent volume level and don’t change too quickly as they progress. Goodnight!

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash


Arielle Tindel is a Berklee College of Music student from Cleveland, OH. She will graduate in December with degrees in Music Business Marketing and Songwriting. In her free time, Arielle can be found gardening or playing bass.