How do you get yourself to fall asleep fast? Do you watch TV, read a book, or listen to songs about sleep, with its soft melody lulling you to slumber? Sleeping takes almost one-third of a person’s regular day. This is enough for individuals to rest and energize their bodies in the next 24 hours. Seeing that sleeping is vital is an understatement; it is integral for surviving long and healthy.
In popular culture, different mainstream and non-mainstream tracks talk about the concept of sleeping. Involvement in a song may vary through the following: explicitly describing sleeping through the title or the lyrical content, sleep-related ideas as a metaphor or analogy to the true intent of the song, or its popularization on playlists, moods, and media related to sleeping.
To dig deeper into expounding the concept of sleeping under popular culture, we will be focusing on music that has been relevant to the community since the 20th Century. Below are 27 songs about sleep, with a background of the tracks, the songwriting process, and their critical or commercial reception.
Top 27 Songs About Sleep
1. “All I Have to Do Is Dream” by The Everly Brothers
Dream has been a prominent element in this classic by the American rock duo. The track’s core message describes unrequited love, which has been uncommon in the rock genre during the 1960s, the decade of its release. More specifically, the song focuses on the absence of fulfilling the love language of physical touch.
2. “Talking to the Moon” by Bruno Mars
The cut from Bruno Mars’ debut studio effort, “Doo Woops and Hooligans” has been a popular non-single off his discography. The R&B-pop ballad has the center themes of failed relationships, sadness, and solitude.
The narrative’s central character refuses to sleep by “talking to the moon” in hopes of their former lover doing the same. It serves as a metaphor for interest in rekindling the flame unequivocally. The song has received mixed music reviews, with praise for the composition’s stripped-down nature and slow pace. The criticism, however, stresses the overwhelming production of the ballad.
3. “Sleeping Child” by Michael Learns to Rock
Off their 1993 release “Colours,” the single of the Danish soft rock band has been explicitly talking about the act of sleeping. It specifically sings about a child’s innocence, particularly during slumber.
The track contemplates that lasting peace is possible if all of the world’s adults possess the same level of innocence and love as the babies. The persona also expresses a desire to take care of the child by maintaining its peaceful slumber.
4. “I Almost Do” by Taylor Swift
We all have times when we go home from a busy day, lay on our bed, but end up not sleeping after multiple attempts because of something that bugs us. The song “I Almost Do” gives voice to this situation.
In the song, Tay-Tay narrates that most of the time, we tend to overthink to the point that we like to create hundreds of different versions of a story. Often, we don’t realize that the person that concerns us might be taking the time to think of us the same way we feel about them. Listen to the song; to the first person you think of, there’s a chance that he might be thinking the same way.
5. “Only Hope” by Mandy Moore
“Only Hope” is part of the original soundtrack of the drama film “A Walk to Remember”. Playlists with solemn, peaceful themes such as songs about sleep, include this alternative-indie track as a popular entry.
A lot of listeners interpret the album cut under religious undertones, seeking help from God at times of despair and concern, relating it to the struggle of the movie’s main character. However, it can also be put under a secular interpretation, whereas the subject is regarded as the “only hope” could be a significant other, a friend, or a loved one.
6. “Demons” by Imagine Dragons
The modern rock classic is written as a warning of the band frontman Dan Reynolds towards other people not to get too close to him due to heavy personal struggles. The narrative of the song states that the character in focus is aware of their imperfections by themselves more than other people, hence explaining the perspective given.
Contrary to highly loud and busy productions of the rock genre, “Demons” has been a rare find due to its stripped-down composition. It makes the track perfect for playlists during siesta and self-contemplation.
7. “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift
Off her fifth studio album, 1989, the album cut interpolates genres of synth-pop, dream pop, and power ballad to embody an atmospheric production. A unique trait of the song is the use of the recording artist Taylor Swift’s heartbeat as the main bassline.
Lyrically, the first person pleads for the last chance of saving an inevitably ending relationship. This is through emphasizing memories that seem too good to be true given their romantic dynamic.
8. “Death by A Thousand Cuts” by Taylor Swift
“Death by a Thousand Cuts” is a unique composition in Taylor Swift’s discography, as it is openly stated that it is directly inspired by a fictitious medium—in this case, the Netflix movie “Someone Great”, rather than the writers’ own life experiences.
The song focuses on describing a slow, painful death—sometimes we identify as an “eternal sleep”—as a metaphor for a possible romantic fallout.
9. “Oh, What a World” by Kacey Musgraves
Recording artist Kacey Musgraves has been drawing inspiration from scientific realism and societal observations in expounding the existential theme of her song, “Oh, What a World”.
Written as a track tackling the beauty of romance, the album cut from “Golden Hour” focuses on gaining comfort from a lover against a world full of doubts and questions. While the first person is amazed by how complex the world works, they are certain that their love for their significant other is a sure matter. With other tracks of the album, the studio effort is highly praised for its atmospheric and calm nature, perfect for sleeping and relaxation playlists. And perfect for this listicle on songs about sleep, too!
10. “Daydreamin’” by Ariana Grande
Released as a single off Grande’s debut album “Yours Truly”, the album cut focuses on longing for the physical and emotional attachment over a significant other through daydreaming romantic scenarios.
At the end of the song, Grande features a heartfelt conversation of her grandparents talking about how they first fell in love. The song had been a fan favorite, complimenting the vocals and the feelings of nostalgia evoked.
11. “Soon You’ll Get Better” by Taylor Swift
Written as an ode to Swift’s mother, who has been struggling with breast cancer, the “Lover” ballad centers on the hope for healing while expressing gratitude for her parent. The narrative was based on Swift’s observations of watching her mother struggle with the condition over the years.
As it mirrors the need to accept the situation, the lyrics were gentle in portraying its sensitivity, reminiscent of her signature songwriting style. The album cut tackles how a good night’s sleep would not be the same anymore over the potential loss of loved ones.
12. “Jet Lag” by Simple Plan
The pop-rock pounder is a collaborative effort between Canadian rock band Simple Plan and British singer Natasha Bedingfield. The themes of the song focus on the ups and downs of an intercontinental relationship of nearly opposite time zones.
Citing the content of the chorus, the romance has been characterized in a nutshell by saying “good morning where it’s midnight.” The song mirrors a rise of romantic bonds between people of different countries or continents, which became more accessible through the increase in digital communications and communities. In addition, the track is also released through three other versions, using different languages.
13. “I’ll Still Have Me” by CYN
Released back in 2018, this release from CYN tackles how she deals with the thoughts her ex-lover left her, as well as a reassurance of self-worth and self-awareness. According to her verified commentary on Genius, she has struggled heavily with dealing with the breakup, but she was able to develop an optimistic mindset through thinking that she still has herself.
The takeaway from the experience made her inspired to create music and discover more hobbies. The song can be described as “chill”, perfect for moments of self-contemplation and personal reassurance of self-worth.
14. “Amnesia” by 5 Seconds of Summer
The song by the Australian pop-rock band centers on coping through a heavy heartbreak by reminiscing memories about the relationship while contemplating the effect of the grieving process in the first person. The mellow pop-rock jam insists on having amnesia as a way to forget the pain from post-heartbreak development. The themes also shed light on one-way reciprocation of the moving on stage, citing that the ex has already moved on from the first person.
The hit has been appealing among the Generation Z demographic, due to its relativism over teenage struggles concerning romance and self-healing. “Amnesia” serves as one of 5SOS’ signature songs, along with their rock classic “Youngblood”.
15. “Lovely” by Billie Eilish & Khalid
Highly popular as one of the biggest hit collaborations on Spotify, the effort of the duo revolves around the concepts of solitude and sadness. In the song, both characters are in a depressing situation, with efforts of trying to make the best out of their current despair due to past heartbreak.
The track concludes with acceptance of heavy baggage upon themselves. The song received critical acclaim due to its subtle production, perfect for listening during passive moments of the day.
16. “Lucid Dreams” by Juice Wrld
The rapper’s streaming hit centers on the concept of lucid dreaming, wherein a person is allowed to gain control of their dreams through acknowledging that they are dreaming. He used this as an analogy reflective of his mental state, aiming to replace their ex-lover with someone else to avoid the repercussions of their encounter in his dreams.
The song has been explicit in coordinating the concept of sleeping through lucid dreams, which has been a common phenomenon among teenagers today.
17. “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith
Of course, any list of songs about sleep wouldn’t be credible without a classic! You might think that Aerosmith’s song “Dream On” should be in this list, but that song uses the word dream to refer to wishing upon something instead of actually dreaming during one’s sleep.
“I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing”, as the title suggests, is about a person who wants to witness everything, and in the process, he doesn’t want to sleep. As emphasized by the lines “I don’t wanna close my eyes, I don’t want to fall asleep…and I don’t want to miss a thing.” If only sleep wasn’t necessary for survival, would anyone even choose sleeping over doing something valuable?
18. “Lights” by Ellie Goulding
The single by English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding had been a sleeper hit on the charts in 2010, going viral on the internet months after its original release. Goulding was inspired to write the song by her need to turn the light to be able to sleep comfortably.
She has highlighted the allegorical use of “light” in the track, citing that “seen as something like a lighthouse that kind of always guides you home” through her siblings. The effort has been critically praised for the use of airy pop production against eerie deep thoughts projected by the lyrical composition.
19. “The Few Things” by JP Saxe
Taking him three months to finish the song, JP Saxe made the song the catalyst of his recording career, after being a songwriter behind the studio for years. He believed that creating the song was his pivotal moment, which made him develop himself more as an artist than solely as a songwriter.
The track embodies a conversational nature and has some words of inspiration given to its listeners. Its soothing lyricism and production would be a good part of a playlist for sleeping.
20. “Fireflies” by Owl City
The 2009 track centers on the fascination of the titular subject, the fireflies. The song serves as the debut of the electronic project Owl City, one-manned by singer-songwriter Adam Young.
Inspired by a camping trip over a remote lake in Northern Minnesota, Young, the tune emulates the observed atmosphere through its bleepy production. With the travel coinciding over a meteor shower, he integrated an analogy on the composition through fireflies, illuminating past normal circadian bedtime.
Additionally, the piece integrated themes of insomnia, goodbyes, and the Western summer season. The song has been instrumental in shedding light on circadian rhythm disorders through its popularization on social media.
21. “La Vie en Rose” by Édith Piaf
Also known as “Life in Pink”, “La Vie en Rose” has been a staple of traditional pop music ever since the late 1940s. With its lyrics detailing the joy of experiencing true love, it had been an anthem appealing to different generations due to the universality of its message.
Sleeping has been used as a metaphor, through narrating surrealistic dreams of a world dominated by the bloom of roses. The song had resonated heavily back then with communities during the recovery period post-World War II, shedding light on trauma brought by periods of civil unrest.
The latest popular cover of the composition is by Italian-American singer-songwriter Lady Gaga, as part of the soundtrack of the 2018 remake of A Star Is Born.
22. “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day
The concept of sleeping in the Green Day classic played a role in coping over periods of loss and bereavement. The “American Idiot” cut was written in memory of frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s struggle of accepting his father’s death at 10 years old.
The titular lyrics describe the will to enter a deep sleep for the whole month of September (the subject’s month of passing), describing feelings of grief developing over a period of time. Beyond its message, the multi-platinum hit established a legacy on philanthropy and internet meme culture, the latter of which Armstrong found personally uncomfortable.
23. “Wake Me Up” by Avicii
Avicii’s signature hit had received commercial and critical acclaim due to its experimental production, featuring artist Aloe Blacc’s vocals, and harmonic elements of band country and electronic dance music (EDM).
Blacc, a co-writer of the song, reflected on his career journey in writing the song. He did not expect to develop a professional path as an actual musician, and thought, “Life is a dream, wake me up when it’s all over.” The song was shortlisted on all-time charts in the United States and the United Kingdom and has been considered one of the biggest dance hits of the 21st Century.
24. “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves
Off her Grammy-winning album “Golden Hour”, “Rainbow” encapsulates a visual aesthetic that is described through a rainbow sunny day. The solemn and minimalist track by Musgraves has been a staple on chill-vibes Spotify playlists, usually consumed by audiences during periods of rest or relaxation.
In addition, the intended message of the composition borrows themes of personal healing and acceptance, with the songwriter having in mind the struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community. She also mentioned that she hopes that it can resonate universally, especially with people having different kinds of baggage. The song has garnered positive receptions so far.
25. “Blinding Lights” by the Weekend
As an attempt of Canadian singer The Weeknd’s venture to synth-pop, the “After Hours” single had been a running classic over the 2020s decade. Talking about rekindling a romantic relationship, which struggles to fix doesn’t make him sleep, the song highlighted the importance of the partner from The Weeknd’s point of view.
The global smash was hailed as the #1 Greatest Hot 100 Hit of All-Time by Billboard, encompassing the chart’s 64-year history. Moreover, it was awarded a Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Diamond certification, for selling at least 10,000,000 units in the United States. Elsewhere, it was Spotify’s most-streamed song of 2020 at 1.6 billion streams.
26. “If the World Was Ending” by JP Saxe & Julia Michaels
Fall in love in the right way with each other by listening to this song by the singer couple, JP Saxe and Julia Michaels. This song is a lullaby you can sing to your lover. JP Saxe and Julia Michaels got that kind of voice that can calm you down and lull you to sleep.
The song talks about feelings of regret over unresolved conflicts and the sadness of splitting up even though somehow they’re still connected. This song will make you think of what you would do if the world is ending given that situation. As the song goes, “But if the world is ending, you’d come over, right?”
27. “How Do You Sleep” by Sam Smith
The Sam Smith composition appears on their third studio effort, “Love Goes.” The pop-dance track centers on moving on over a problematic relationship, with the hook taunting how the partner can still sleep soundly over feeding lies.
The song’s direction has been consistent with Smith’s themes of heartbreak and resentment over their past releases. However, the upbeat production has seen a departure from their former musical styles, noting how feelings of personal and musical freedom have inspired them during the making of the album. The single received moderate chart success over Northern America and Europe.
Overall, integrating the concept of sleeping in music has been a brilliant marketing strategy—a persuasive move toward digital consumers. They are curating related playlists or using the songs in the physical world, such as in coffee shops, which is a wise marketing trend. It capitalizes on the need for people to relax in different ways.
This has been obvious with the algorithm of the music streaming platform Spotify. On the other hand, it may also allude listeners to forwarding their intended messages with the song. Many audiences rely on aesthetic appeals with media consumption; hence, the relatability of the concept of sleeping has resonated among listeners of the songs.
The songs get played or playlisted over and over again as a result. We can also realize that both phenomena co-exist with each other.
Anyway, a simple play of a song under this list does not hurt, right? Or maybe, you can create your very own playlist of songs about sleep! Grab your headset, relax, and catch some z’s.