Listening to music at bedtime doesn’t work for everybody. Some people prefer total silence as they drift off to sleep and find that music of any description just keeps them awake. For those who do, however, the selection of which tunes play can be tough. You want something you enjoy that is peaceful and relaxing but not too distracting, and ideally something that will send you to sleep in a good mood so you are more likely to wake up happy as well. Whale songs, tubular bells and all sorts of ambient noises have been billed as the best things to fall asleep to, but that’s just marketing. Now, however, there is a definitive list.
Image courtesy of RelaxingMusic via Flickr creative commons
How The List Came About
The neuroscience research group Mindlab International conducted a study where subjects were played a variety of different music as their brain waves were monitored. On top of this, participants were asked to perform a number of tasks whilst listening to music, including puzzle solving, and their reaction times were measured. From these results the group have now been able to release a list of what this study has shown to be the top ten most relaxing songs of all time.
1) Marconi Union - Weightless
2) Airstream - Electra
3) DJ Shah - Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)
4) Enya - Watermark
5) Coldplay - Strawberry Swing
6) Barcelona - Please Don't Go
7) All Saints - Pure Shores
8) Adele - Someone Like You
9) Mozart - Canzonetta Sull'aria
10) Cafe Del Mar - We Can Fly
The Science Behind The Winner
The track ‘Weightless’ by Manchester band Marconi Union topped the list and is officially known as the most relaxing track of all time. When you start to take a look at why this song is so relaxing you get a picture of just what it is about certain songs that make us feel peaceful when we listen to them. For starters, the rhythm of the track begins at around 60 beats per minute, but gradually slows to 50bpm by the end of the track. This gently encourages our own heart rates to slow down in tandem, making us feel more relaxed.
Marconi Union – Weightless YouTube Clip
There is no repeating melody, so your brain gives up trying to predict what comes next and switches off. The gaps between notes (harmonic intervals) are designed to produce a mild euphoria, and the low notes induce a trance-like state. Equally important is the length of the track – it takes around five minutes or more to get to a state of entrainment (complete relaxation), and this song lasts eight minutes. Whether sinking into a hotel mattress or setting up camp in a field, take this song with you and you will soon be in the land of nod.