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Health and Wellness

13 Songs That Will Help You Relax at the End of a Long Day

You'll want to add these to your nighttime playlist.
13 Songs That Will Help You Relax at the End of a Long Day
Image credit: Westend61 | Getty Images
6 min read
This story originally appeared on Thrive Global

Research suggests that our favorite songs hold the power to clear our minds, enhance our emotions, and experience our feelings in dynamic ways. If you’re a music-lover, the science feels intuitive. The right song can help set the tone for a productive day ahead, recall a nostalgic memory, and even help clear your mind before bed. 

We asked the Thrive Global community to share the songs that help them slow down and fall asleep easier. Here are some favorites to add to your nighttime playlist:

Green Arrow” by Yo La Tengo

“Ever since college, this peaceful song has helped me relax and ease into sleep. When my mind is racing before bed, I’ll either play it on my phone or think of its melody in my head. It sounds like fireflies in the dark to me.”

--Emily Esfahani Smith, author, Washington, DC.

Return to Innocence” by Enigma

“Anything by Enigma helps me relax, no matter what kind of day I’ve had. This song in particular brings me back to a time that was simple -- when my family was with me, and we were just growing up and learning the ways of the world. Plus, the Native American chant in the background just brings me overall peace of mind.”

--Nazia Defrank, CEO,  Lynbrook, NY

Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson

“This song has the power to let me fully wind down, get comfortable, and feel lazy in bed at night. It allows me to visually paint a picture of myself sleeping in, making banana pancakes, listening to the rain, and enjoying the company of someone I love. Those are all things that make me feel content and keep me at peace, which is exactly what I want right before I drift off to sleep.”

--Melissa Muncy, content marketing, San Francisco, CA

The Scientist” by Coldplay

“This song always helps me wind down at night and fall asleep easily. It’s so nostalgic and relaxing.”

--Rebecca Muller, assistant editor, New York, NY

View from my Window” by Hiroshi Yoshimura

“I stream an amazing program called ‘Simmer Down’ on KYRS Thin Air community radio, out of Spokane, Washington. The DJ has curated ambient music for the explicit purpose of inducing states of deep relaxation. Every Sunday night, I put on my headphones at 10 p.m. and drift in and out of liminal sleep for two hours. It’s so lovely. I literally feel my heart, mind, and body synchronize into peaceful coherence. Some of my favorites are: ‘View from my Window’ by Hiroshi Yoshimura, ‘A Lake’ by Emily A. Sprague, and ‘Will You Catch Me If I Blow Away?’ by Lowercase Noises.”

--Jenny TeGrotenhuis, therapist, Kennewick, WA

George Winston’s music

“The whirring of my brain, the berating thoughts, the scanning of all I did or said that day whip around in my head, and keep me from sleeping. That powerhouse of anxiety slows down when I put my headphones on and play rich, quiet music by George Winston. My roommate in college listened to him -- we would lie in the dark, letting the music take over, and we would drift off to sleep. It could be part nostalgia or even muscle memory, but it still works -- the soothing notes roll over me and help me relax like no other.”

--Dana Baker, parent and teen coach, Tiburon, CA

Weightless” by Marconi Union

“It’s just amazing!”

--Alli Truttmann, founder & CEO, Louisville, KY

Bloom” by Paper Kites

“My favorite song to relax to at nearly any time is ‘Bloom’ by Paper Kites. It has a dreamy, wistful, light vibe to it, and it reminds me that love is always accessible.”

--Stephanie Thoma, networking strategist, San Francisco, CA

With My Own Two Hands” by Jack Johnson

“Listening to music has always been a way for me to channel my thoughts and mood for whatever situation. I am more prone to upbeat music with soothing tones, so playing Jack Johnson’s ‘With My Own Two Hands’ while going through chemotherapy was a real godsend to me. It was a song that I had frequently played for my children, and it helped me overcome my anxiety during routine PET scans. His music calmed my racing heart and mind. It helped me focus on the importance of getting better, and all that I had to look forward to when it was done. It had such a peaceful effect on me that the technicians recognized the difference it made, and piped it through the machine every time I came in.”

--Amy Debrucque, writer, Syracuse, NY 

Smash Into You” by Beyoncé

“This is my favorite song to relax or fall asleep to. It makes me feel happy, yet also like I am able to calm down after a rough day. It also helps me to channel my inner Beyoncé as I try to sing like her.”

--Brandi Lewis, licensed professional counselor, Charlotte, NC

Devi Prayer” by Craig Pruess and Ananda

“This is the song that has always been beneficial in helping slow things down and shift my mood. It is 20 minutes long, so it can easily take you into a different state. I also play relaxing music for my dogs when I am away from them, since it helps soothe them. This song is the first one on that playlist.”

--Dr. Tricia Wolanin, Psy.D, clinical psychologist, author, and yoga instructor, RAF Mildenhall, U.K.

Fly” by Ludovico Einaudi

“I love falling asleep to piano music. I used to play the piano myself, and I use piano music to meditate and listen to the structure of the piece. In particular, I love classical piano music, as well as some more contemporary performers such as Ludovico Einaudi. For me, it’s so relaxing, and I can let go of the day before I go to sleep. It’s almost like reading fiction -- it allows me to channel creativity and let go of the stress of the day.”

--Kathryn Djordjevic, pharmacist, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Fool’s Overture” by Supertramp

“To fall asleep, I love listening to this song. I lie in bed in the dark room, and I keep my eyes closed to feel the music. Then the piano starts, quietly and melodically, as the story starts to unfold. I listen to my breathing as I fade off to sleep.”

--Craig Dubecki, author, speaker, musician, and contractor, Ontario, Canada

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