Here’s a picture: It’s midnight, you’ve been tossing and turning for hours, but you can’t fall asleep. When this happens to me, I find that a playlist of sleeping songs really does help me cross over to that glorious REM cycle I’m craving. But it can’t be just any ballad. It has to be a mix of soft vocals, subdued production, and simple lyrics. You know, the stuff dreams are made of.
Here are 20 tracks to help lull you to sleep. Try this playlist out the next time you have insomnia and need a one-way ticket to slumberland:
Madonna, “Bedtime Story”
“Let’s get unconscious, honey,” Madonna sings on this ’90s classic—and after listening to it, you may do just that. I mean that in the most flattering way, of course. With its bubbly ambient production and hazy vocal delivery, “Bedtime Story” is an ideal song for unwinding. You could call it the perfect...well, bedtime story.
Norah Jones, “Don’t Know Why”
Jones shot to the top of the charts in 2002 with this warm, sleepy ballad, and it still holds up nearly 20 years later. Her vocals are velvety smooth, and the piano production is equally as relaxing. The result? A down-tempo track that feels like the first five minutes in a hot bubble bath.
Sufjan Stevens, “The Dress Looks Nice on You”
Similar to “Don’t Know Why,” there’s a lulling quality to this Sufjan Stevens staple that will put you in a slumbery mood. Maybe it’s the soft guitar plucks. Maybe it’s the soft synths in the background. Or Stevens’s muted vocals. It’s probably a combination of all three. Either way, this song lowered my blood pressure two points, so get into it.
Charli XCX and Carly Rae Jepsen, “Backseat”
Charli and Carly are known for their up-tempo party bangers, which is why it’s funny their only collaboration together is this haunting slow jam. “Backseat” is the quintessential zone-out song—atmospheric and electronic, with a pulse that never gets too high. Even with its heavy synths and Auto-Tuned casing, you’ll fall right into your REM cycle.
Beach House, “Take Care”
Beach House has a consistently chill discography, but “Take Care” is one of their finest tracks. It literally feels like riding down a winding road on a warm spring day. And you know what that means? Peace! And! Sleep!
Kacey Musgraves, “Oh, What a World”
Any song on Kacey Musgraves’s Golden Hour album would work for this list (except maybe “High Horse”), but my personal favorite is “Oh, What a World,” a trippy country ballad with electronic tinges and twinkly production. It’s the sonic equivalent of a deep-sleep dream.
Mandy Moore, “Extraordinary”
Moore’s 2007 album Wild Hope was a significant departure from the candy-colored dance pop that made her a star. In lieu of sugary-sweet hooks, she went full-on folk acoustic—and the results were beautiful. Especially on “Extraordinary,” which sounds like the lazy Sunday morning you’ve always hoped for.
Frou Frou, “Let Go”
For a brief period of time, Imogen Heap and producer Guy Sigsworth were a dream-pop duo known as Frou Frou. Their best song (which you no doubt heard on soundtracks for The Holiday and Garden State) was “Let Go,” a synth-pop tune with luscious orchestral influence. It’s nothing short of stunning, and one of the most relaxing songs you’ll hear.
Rihanna, “Same Ol’ Mistakes”
Rihanna’s cover of this Tame Impala song is one of the highlights from her 2016 album Anti—and that’s saying something, because every track on that record is superb. Airy, experimental, and surprisingly soft, RiRi’s “Same Ol’ Mistakes” is a fever dream that will make you melt...then sleep.
Britney Spears, “Out From Under”
Another Guy Sigsworth appearance. The iconic producer helped craft this rare Britney ballad—which is one of her best, might I add. She truly sounds angelic on the song. Listen once, and your stress level will drop significantly.
Maxwell, "Whenever Wherever Whatever"
Let Maxwell's delicate falsetto and cascading guitar strings whisk you off to a land filled with sepia colored dreams. In this song about longing and love, the neo soul singer sounds like a warm hug on a rainy evening.
Fiona Apple, "Cosmonauts"
If you've got love on the brain and can't quite seem to settle into a steady sleep, listen to the soft and raspy vocals of Fiona Apple. Your heart rate will slightly quicken as you're caught in Apple's stirring voice mixed in with the throbbing drums and then settle into a soothing rhythm as the track closes off with gentle whispers that open the gate to dreams.
Stevie Wonder, "Love's In Need of Love Today"
If you're feeling homesick, this classic song by Stevie Wonder feels like your grandma who's there to uplift your spirits with a nostalgic tune about love and laughter. Suddenly you're a little kid again, warm and snug after being tucked into bed.
Fleetwood Mac, "Dreams"
Dreams is a slow and groovy track to unwind to when you're looking to have a good night's sleep. The airy harmonies of Fleetwood Mac provide the perfect soundtrack to an easy mind and plenty of Zs.
Tracy Chapman, "Fast Car"
Those looking for a getaway, queue up some Tracy Chapman to find yourself dreaming of long car rides on the open road. After eight hours of fresh air and freedom to let loose, you're wake up feeling energized to take on the new day.
Corinne Bailey Rae, "Trouble Sleeping"
Corinne Bailey Rae's sweet sounding vocals + piano + saxophone = you falling asleep to dreams of new love and beginnings and waking up with a smile on your face.
Kid Cudi ft. Haim, "Red Eye"
The repetition, along with Cudi's hums and Haim's harmonies will put you in a trance. Soon you'll be fast asleep and avoiding two red eyes, the dreaded tell-tale sign of no sleep.
Noah Cyrus ft. Miley Cyrus, "I Got So High I Saw Jesus"
Noah Cyrus' wispy voice along with sister Miley's sultry one blend together beautifully in a song that will have you humming along as you slowly drift off into a deep sleep.
The Last Shadow Puppets, "Miracle Aligner"
Watch the video first if you want a preview of what your dreams might look like after listening to Alex Turner softly croon over the backing baroque pop melody. It's a dizzying effect of dancing around a ballroom, that is preluded by a shower of bright, pink rose petals being lightly scattered by the wind—you know, how any good dream begins.
Caroline Polachek, "Door"
Let the echoes of Caroline Polachek's crystal-like vocals guide you into the best night of sleep you've had all year. With some futuristic sounds and slightly robotic voices mixed in, the song is like a gateway to a dream utopia.
Sleep is a $70 billion industry—we throw our money at a dreamier night’s rest, promise ourselves we’ll prioritize it, and then gripe when we’re still, inevitably, so tired. Despite our collective obsession with sleep, we seem totally unable to get more of it. In fact, we’re clocking fewer hours than ever. So, this month, we’re taking a look at what’s getting in the way—and what to do about it.
Originally Appeared on Glamour