Some sounds simply dull the senses. The monotone drone of Ben Stein calling role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off springs to mind. Any old boring sound can lull you to sleep. But it takes a special kind of melody—something captivating yet calming, powerful yet peaceful—to put someone into that perfect dreamy state.
We partnered with Casper Mattresses to bring you the following songs which have proven more effective than counting sheep or a warm glass of milk for us. Casper created an outrageously comfortable mattress, which you can buy direct. You can try the Casper for 100 nights—if you don’t love it, they’ll pick it up for free and give you a full refund. Shop for the mattress and use code “paste” for $50 towards your order.
This is not a comprehensive list, and if this selection fails you, you can always just try the Jeff Bridges sleeping tapes. If you have your own lovely sleep-inducing suggestions, please add them to the comments section below.
Here are 10 songs to ease you into a wonderful, dreamy slumber:
Though the Santa Monica duo is best known “Fade into You,” Mazzy Star’s song “Into Dust” will be remembered by older fans and teenagers who first heard the song played during Marissa’s near death experience in teen soap opera The O.C. “Into Dust” takes a slower and more ominous approach than “Fade into You,” making it all the more hypnotic. Despite the song’s harrowing and mournful lyrics, there’s something calming about envisioning the whole world fading into dust while you’re fading into sleep.
Master singer-songwriter Elliott Smith knew how to make one depressive lullaby. This song may have been about addiction and sorrow, but his soft voice brings the listener peace of mind. Smith was a troubled artist, but he knew how to captivate an audience in the most calm, best way possible.
Most of Iron & Wine’s early discography could be one’s sleep soundtrack, but “Sea & The Rhythm” from Sam Beam’s second EP is the perfect tempo and length for lulling listeners to sleep. The slow, simple title track paints images that practically beckon slumber. If the lines “Your hands they move like waves over me/ Beneath the moon, tonight, we’re the sea” don’t make you feel warm and safe, we don’t know what will.
Half-song, half-soundscape, Incubus utilized Chinese instruments and featured a Japanese orchestra to make this meditative track. Supposedly Incubus’ lead vocalist Brandon Boyd said jokingly that the purpose of the song was to make the listener “pee his/her pants” from relaxation. We wouldn’t recommend that on your new mattress, though.
A.A. Bondy was once the lead singer and guitarist of post-grunge rock band Verbena, a group not really known for keeping things mellow. But in his solo career, Bondy has experimented with a more low-key sound. “Surfer King” is not only a prime example of that, but a perfect rest-inducing, intimate track that makes use of a full band.
The National is natural chill-out music, but most of their songs leave too much of a tormented taste to deem them lullabies. “I Need My Girl” tells a trademark saddening story of a love lost, but it is its spacious, reverberating instrumentals that make it a song that is perfect to drift off to.
The Stones’ Sticky Finger track is timeless in its quality and daydreamy effectiveness. The vague, folk-like lyrics are comforting as is the twangy country-inspired guitar. “Wild Horses” is one of the dreamiest examples of how the Stones can master a slow song just as well as their signature rock songs that only a die-hard fan would be able to fall asleep to.
This song won’t work for everyone- some people find Casablancas’ tone soothing, some don’t. But Casablancas’ song (which turned into a demo version of The Strokes much more robust “You Only Live Once”) has fervent supporters who feel totally calmed by its clean and level sound.
Of course, Bob Dylan originally penned and sang this song (and his original version makes an for excellently calming track). Bu,t while the folk piece is wonderful under Dylan’s direction, Joan Baez’s cover brings a certain quality to it that makes it a great sleeping number. Maybe it’s the fact the emphasis is on Baez’s logatto tone, maybe it’s the lack of a loud harmonica, but something about her version amplifies the song’s already languid theme.
Ella Fitzgerald could have sung about the bubonic plague and made it sound beautiful and oh-so-dreamy. “Someone to Watch Over Me” is just one of the many examples of how Ella could take her time with her songs, often stretching out her syllables for several measures, and the end result wouldn’t be a boring ballad but rather a romantic lullaby.