A study of nearly 1,000 sleep playlists on Spotify has found that songs by BTS and Billie Eilish are among the most popular for listeners to fall asleep to.
Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark conducted a study on the characteristics of music associated with sleep by gathering audio feature data on 225,626 tracks from 985 sleep-associated playlists on Spotify. On Jan. 18, the Danish team’s findings were published in the scientific journal Plos One.
Although the researchers found that the majority of sleep music tends to be slower, quieter and more instrumental, they encountered surprising results upon closer inspection of the playlists.
Of the six subgroups of sleep music that they identified, three subgroups included songs that were more upbeat and energetic than average sleep music. “Dynamite” by BTS and “Lovely” by Billie Eilish and Khalid were among the most popular tracks.
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“Even though our findings provide evidence of the general soothing characteristics of sleep music, we also show that there is much more to sleep music than standard relaxation music,” the researchers wrote.
While their largest and most expected subgroup, “Ambient music,” features songs with “low Danceability and Energy, and high Instrumentalness and Acousticness,” the researchers found that several sleep playlists include the opposite: “high Energy and Danceability, and low Instrumentalness and Acousticness.”
Upon counting the number of times a track was included in each sleep playlist, the team found “Dynamite” to be the most popular sleep track with a total of 245 appearances. Two medium-low tempo songs that also appeared frequently were “Jealous” by Labrinth and “Lovely,” showing up 62 times and 60 times, respectively.
In the discussion section of their article, the researchers wrote that while “one could argue that music with high Energy and Danceability would be counterproductive for relaxation and sleep,” these tracks may “increase relaxation when considering the interplay between repeated exposure, familiarity and predictive processing.”
“[We found that] the music people use for sleep displays a large variation including music characterized by high energy and tempo,” the researchers said in a recent media release. “The study can both inform the clinical use of music and advance our understanding of how music is used to regulate human behavior in everyday life.