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Billie Eilish and BTS among best music to fall asleep to

More than 200,000 songs and 985 playlists were analysed in the study by a Danish university

By Hollie Geraghty

BTS in a press shot next to a photo of Billie Eilish performing live at the O2
BTS and Billie Eilish (Photos: HYBE and Samir Hussein/Getty Images for Live Nation UK)

Music by Billie Eilish and BTS is among the best to fall asleep to, according to new research.

After analysing more than 200,000 songs from 985 Spotify playlists associated with sleep, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark found that upbeat, familiar music may be just as effective in helping people to sleep as slower, quieter songs are.

Songs like ‘Dynamite’ by BTS and ‘Lovely’ by Billie Eilish and Khalid were identified in the study – published in the journal Plos One – as more energetic tracks that can aid sleep, both for promoting relaxation and because of their familiarity.

“Our hypothesis is that familiarity with the music makes the music very predictable to the brain, and this predictability may enable sleep, despite the music being upbeat and energetic,” Kira Vibe Jespersen, an assistant professor at the university’s Centre for Music in the Brain, told PA news.

“We are currently working to test this hypothesis.”

The study identified six “meaningful subgroups of sleep music”, three of which were described as “different from the average” with “low instrumentalness, high energy, high tempo and high loudness.”

“Strikingly, three of the subgroups included popular tracks that were faster, louder, and more energetic than average sleep music,” the study abstract reads.

Posting on Twitter yesterday (19 January ) Jespersen wrote: “The study clearly shows that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to sleep music, and it highlights the importance of taking individual preferences into account when choosing music for sleep.”

Elsewhere, Eilish last year reflected on finding out that fans had described her music as “depressing”, sharing that it was “so surprising”.

“It was so weird to me when I was first coming up and, and the thing everybody said was, like, ‘Billie Eilish’s music is so depressing, and it’s so sad, and it’s too dark,'” she said in her episode of Origins, an Audible series exploring artists’ musical beginnings.

 I was like, ‘What are you talking about? Have you listened to The Beatles and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and ‘Yesterday’, and Lana Del Rey? Like, what the hell?’

“It was so surprising to me that people thought anything I was creating was dark. I mean, it’s real.”