What’s the Best Relaxation Music to Enjoy?

Life can be hectic and stressful. After a long, busy day that's fraught with stress and tension, it can be difficult for many people to unwind, relax, and get the proper rest they need to support good physical and mental health. Overtime, chronic stress can actually lead to health problems such as high blood pressure and mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. 

People rely on many different methods to help them dispel stress such as exercise or reading. However, music can be one of the most effective ways to promote relaxation and stress relief. But what's the best relaxation music to listen to for this purpose? 

Here, we'll explore some relaxing music options you can try at home to help you unwind during stressful times.

What Does Science Say about the Calming Effects of Music?

Scientists acknowledge that upbeat music can have an energizing effect on the brain and body. Fast music can make a person feel more alert and even better able to focus on what they're doing. Conversely, slower music can have a soothing effect on the brain and body. According to the University of Nevada, "Research confirms these personal experiences with music. Current findings indicate that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat causing alpha brain waves (frequencies from 8 - 14 hertz or cycles per second). This alpha brainwave is what is present when we are relaxed and conscious."

The university's researchers have also reported that music that includes drums, strings, and flutes tends to feature the most relaxation-inducing properties. They recommend listening to Celtic, Native American, and classical music.

Other scientists at Michigan State University have reported that music may also trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain. When this chemical is released, the brain may be flooded by feelings of relaxation and well-being.

Sound Therapy

Some music has actually been developed in conjunction with therapists to promote relaxation. "Weightless" by Marconi Union is music that has been specifically developed with input from therapists to reduce stress–and it lives up to its purpose. Scientists have determined that people who listen to this music experienced drops in their cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone, as you may recall. The music's soothing rhythms and melodies can cause tension to dissipate so that listeners experience stress relief and find it easier to relax.

In fact, the scientists who have studied the effects of this music on listeners warn against listening to it while driving or operating dangerous equipment as it can even cause drowsiness. If you're experiencing a bout of insomnia, give "Weightless" a try.

The Best Relaxation Music to Try

Of course, everyone is different. Some people may swear that listening to AC/DC's Back in Black album helps them to relax. Science may be skeptical considering the energizing nature of the music, but if it leads to tension relief, that's certainly nothing to scoff at. On the other hand, there are some excellent musical candidates to try if you are interested in experimenting with music for stress relief. Remember, relaxation is important because it allows your brain and body to heal as you rest. Consider the following options when searching for the best relaxation music to listen to:

Classical Music: Chopin

Not all classical music is relaxing. On the contrary, Beethoven's Ode to Joy or any number of Mozart's symphonies might inspire you to run a marathon. However, when you need to get some rest and relaxation, consider Chopin and the lullabesque properties of his most endearing masterpieces like Nocturne No.2, Op.9. Chopin's piano music and some soothing herbal tea (such as chamomile) can help you drift off to slumber while shedding your cares for the evening.

Reggae Music: Bob Marley

The maestro of Reggae, Bob Marley boasts a repertoire that's filled with sultry songs you can sway and relax to. Perfect for lounging in a hammock, songs like "One Love" and "Turn Your Lights Down Low" can be immensely relaxing and conjure up Caribbean breezes and clear blue skies.

Light Jazz: Bill Evans

From "Autumn Leaves" to "Peace Piece," Bill Evans's repertoire includes some relaxing jazz songs that meet the scientific criteria for "relaxing music." An American jazz pianist, Evans was inducted into the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame and has inspired countless younger pianists who took the stage after him.

Fairy Tale Revisited: Lana Del Rey

The hypnotic voice of Lana Del Rey will have you closing your eyes and drifting to sleep in "Once Upon a Dream," her version of the classic Sleeping Beauty theme. Her haunting, while more haunting, is slower, even halting for spaces. If you like her, you'll find that many of her songs feature this same soothing quality.

Hawaiian Music

With its emphasis on stringed music, Hawaiian music is a great option for inducing relaxation. Try "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel "Iz" Kamakawiwo'ole. The rich timbre of his voice coupled with the simple production of the classic remake will help you de-stress after a long day.

Create a Playlist

To ensure that you have relaxing music at the ready when you walk in after a long day on the job, you may want to create a special playlist that's devoted to the best relaxation music or, at least, filled with music that you find relaxing. Need some help? Here are some popular relaxing options that tend to wind up on relaxation playlists on sites like Spotify and Apple Music:

  • "When You Say Nothing at All" by Allison Krause
  • "Perfect" by Ed Sheerhan
  • "Fur Elise" by Beethoven
  • "Watermark" by Enya
  • "Come Away with Me" by Nora Jones
  • "Fields of Gold" by Sting
  • "Surfer Girl" by The Beach Boys
  • "The Scientist" by Coldplay
  • "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac
  • "Keyboard Suite in D Minor" by Handel
  • "Save Me" by Aimee Mann
  • "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt
  • "The Blower's Daughter" by Damien Rice
  • "Honey and the Moon" by Joseph Arthur
  • "Fumbling Toward Ecstasy" by Sarah McLachlin
  • "Smooth Operator" by Sade
  • "Are You Lonesome Tonight" by Elvis Presley
  • "Reflecting Light" by Sam Phillips
  • "Fade into You" by Mazzy Star
  • "Best of My Love" by The Eagles
  • "Someone Like You" by Adele
  • "Essence" by Lucinda Williams

Try these and others to build a relaxing playlist you can enjoy indoors or while lounging on your patio or deck. Try different genres to see what works best to relax you.