These songs about sleep are perfect whether you love your sleep or are a frustrated insomniac. Get inspired or get lulled into falling asleep with these songs about sleep.
Sleep, a vital function that is unfortunately undervalued in today’s world. However, sleep is so important, these artists decided to incorporate the idea of sleep and rest into their music. Keep reading to find out more about the best songs about sleep and the inspiration behind them.
“How Do You Sleep?” – Sam Smith
In this mournful tune, Sam Smith laments the fracture a relationship is causing. They ask “How do you sleep when you lie to me?”, suggesting that the subject that the song is discussing is doing things behind the narrator’s back. While this song is definitely the perfect breakup tune, its woeful tempo is catchy and makes for great radio.
“Wake Me Up When September Ends” – Green Day
In this poignant ballad from the early 2000s, Green Day offers an emotional look into the trauma of loss and the spirit of patriotism. While often (erroneously) determined to be about America’s war in the Middle East, this punk rock song about sleep explores the desire to escape the darkness of reality.
In reality, the lead singer wrote the song as a tribute to his late father, who passed away in September 1982. However, Green Day used the song’s music video to tell the story of how war and violence rip families and loved ones apart.
“I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” – Aerosmith
Easily one of the most recognizable love songs of the 1990s, Aerosmith soared into our hearts with this instant hit from the blockbuster film Armageddon.
Steven Tyler’s easy-on-the-ears vocal abilities are the cherry on top of this song which speaks about a love so deep that the singer wishes to stay awake so they don’t miss a moment with their lover.
Whether you love the legendary classic rock band or not, you can’t deny this song is one of the most powerful rock love ballads of all time.
“Wildest Dreams” – Taylor Swift
Life is too short to pretend you don’t enjoy catchy songs by Taylor Swift.
In this hit from her first official pop album, Swift pleads with her lover to remember her long after they’ve parted ways. She laments in the heartfelt song lyrics that she hopes her lover continues to think about her, even if it only happens while he is sleeping.
Featuring a background recording of the artist’s actual heartbeat, Swift proves yet again why the world goes crazy anytime she releases songs about heartbreak.
“No Sleep Till Brooklyn” – The Beastie Boys
Who said songs about sleep are all lullabies? This rap-rock banger with a hint of heavy metal by the Beastie Boys will get you hyped, so you’ll be more likely to hit a dance floor than your bed sheets.
Interestingly, the song is not so much about sleeping as it is about the group being so anxious over performing on stage that they can’t sleep until their tour is over and they are home in Brooklyn.
Slayer guitarist Kerry King plays the guitar riffs in this rap-rock anthem, making it the perfect closer for The Beastie Boys’ concerts.
“Sleeping on the Blacktop” – Colter Wall
Canadian singer Colter Wall released this moody Americana tune in 2015. Featured in the film Hell or High Water, this song appears to have the narrator running from his troubles while covering topics like drug addiction and poverty.
The term “sleeping on the blacktop” is usually used when referring to vagrants or drifters, which means the narrator is most likely bouncing from town to town.
“Insomnia” – Daya
Released in 2019, “Insomnia” describes the lack of sleep that the narrator experiences from missing someone that she loved. While set to an upbeat pace, this song documents the struggles that the narrator faces sleeping without someone and how her mind runs at night.
They toss and turn at night. Their mind won’t shut down. They can see their loved ones, and they’re left wondering where they are.
Though it’s meant to sound like a dance club anthem, “Insomnia” is definitely a deeper track.
The tempo is upbeat but steady, and Daya’s voice is soothing, so the song may put some people to sleep while others may find it perfect for dancing. If you’re leaning more toward the latter, jazz has some great songs for dancing.
“I Can’t Sleep” – Clay Walker
If you’re a fan of country music, consider adding this hit by Clay Walker to your playlist. He started writing the song on a beach and finished it with the help of a fellow artist Chely Wright. It was a spontaneous creation in the spur of a moment, as the two bounced ideas off of each other.
The song is about Walker not being able to sleep and not wanting to sleep because his loved one is no longer around. He vows he won’t sleep until he sees her, touches her face, and can be with her.
The tempo is catchy. It begins slow and steady and gradually picks up but never gets too fast, making it ideal for relaxing in the evening and gently falling asleep.
“Talking In Your Sleep” – The Romantic
This catchy 1983 track has been covered by the likes of The Weeknd. The tune is pretty self-explanatory. The narrator is sleeping next to his lover and hears the “secrets” that she keeps because she is unknowingly talking in her sleep. Even though this song has a groovy rhythm, you can detect the narrator’s pain throughout.
“Golden Slumbers” – The Beatles
Penned by Beatles member Paul McCartney, this 1969 cut is based on the poem/lullaby “Cradle Song” by Thomas Dekker. Essentially, the narrator is singing a lullaby to an unknown subject, trying to get them to go to sleep by promising them that good dreams await them.
The song starts with a slow and steady tempo that picks up at different sections, but the tune is still relaxing enough to put you to sleep.
The lyrics mention the word lullaby and going to sleep often enough that it may put you to sleep. It also has a childlike feel, which may help you fall into dreamland.
The inspiration for the song was from two poems, one from the 17th century called “Cradle Song” and the other from 1885 called “Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes.”
“Daysleeper” – R.E.M.
R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe was inspired to write this tune after seeing a sign that said “Daysleeper” on someone’s door in a New York City apartment building. Stipe says it was around 4 p.m. and he made an effort to be as quiet as he could in order to not wake the third shift worker up.
“I’m Only Sleeping” – The Beatles
Yep! Another Beatles tune about sleep! From their Revolver album, this 1966 tune gathers inspiration from John Lennon’s love of staying in bed all day. Pretty simple, right? Jokingly, his friend Maureen Cleave called John Lennon “the laziest person in England”, which makes this dreamy tune all the more fitting.
Lennon, known to enjoy staying in bed even when he wasn’t asleep, warns in the lyrics people not to wake him or shake him because of the joy he gets from sleep. He doesn’t want his day spoiled by waking him up in the middle of a dream early in the morning. Many of us can relate to that when awakened from a dream in the morning by an alarm clock.
Written in 1966, the song has a psychedelic feel to it. The tempo is pretty laidback and relaxing, which can help you sleep.
“You Can Sleep While I Drive” – Melissa Etheridge
This 80s song talks about Etheridge’s desire to get out of town and encourage her lover to join her on the adventure. Etheridge discusses passing through cities like New Orleans and Nashville but insists that her lover can sleep while she does all the cross country driving.
“Asleep” – The Smiths
Known for their moody songs, The Smiths take a melancholy approach to the concept of sleep in “Asleep”. The narrator requests to be sung to sleep, after insisting that he’s tired and wants to go to bed.
However, this song has a much deeper meaning than the sole desire to go to bed. It is implied through the lyrics regarding not wanting to wake up that the narrator wants to die. He requests that someone sing to him to help comfort him as he passes away.
However, this is probably one of the best songs about sleeping all day. Not only is the tempo slow and soft, but the lyrics are also perfect for helping you sleep. The song is a gem from 1986 with a slow melodic piano that’s hypnotic and alluring.
“Enter Sandman” – Metallica
A hard rock staple for thirty years, vocalist James Hetfield announces the arrival of the sandman, but not all is what it seems. It becomes unclear whether the sandman is merely a herald of sleep – or a bringer of nightmares.
In any event, the tune has become one of the band’s best known, often turning up in sporting events. NASA has even used it as the wake-up music for astronauts in a 2008 mission.
“Behind the Wall of Sleep” – the Smithereens
Alternative band the Smithereens released “Behind the Wall of Sleep” in 1986. A 1960s inspired rocker, vocalist Pat DiNizio sings the praises of a rock goddess who sports hair like “Jeannie Shipton back in 1965.”
A mood of frustration is palpable as the narrator realizes that he will never be more than a friend to her. He finds relief only in his dreams where he finds her waiting for him “behind the wall of sleep.”
“I Went to Sleep” – the Beach Boys
By the late 1960s, Beach Boys chief songwriter Brian Wilson had begun to retreat from the band he had led since 1961. Nonetheless, he contributed occasional gems, such as “I Went to Sleep,” a song featured on their 1969 album 20/20.
In this understated and wistful ballad, the narrator sleepily recounts the slightly mundane events of a typical day—sitting in a park, listening to a radio—all of which act as precursor to… taking a nap. Fans who know of Brian’s mental state at the time perhaps read a little too much into what is now regarded as one of the songwriter’s prettiest tunes.
“Mr. Sandman” – The Chordettes
The sandman here reappears in this 1954 single by female acapella group the Chordettes.
Sandman is a folkloric character that sprinkles sand over someone’s eyes to help them fall asleep and have beautiful dreams. The narrator calls on the sandman to bring not merely sleep, but also that special someone, “a dream” who will hopefully be “the cutest that I’ve ever seen.”
Who knew that the sandman pulled double duty? This charming single, highlighting carefully arranged close harmony vocals, was a number one hit, beating out several other versions.
Mr. Sandman is an absolute classic that has been performed by various artists over the years, but there’s something uniquely charming about The Chordettes’ version and their harmonious vocals.
The song was a hit back in the 1950s and quickly became one of the most popular and funny songs about sleep.
“(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep at All” – The 5th Dimension
Soul genre is a perfect fit for immersing yourself in thoughts and falling asleep seamlessly. Released in 1972, this hit song by The 5th Dimension is about someone not being able to sleep because their loved one is constantly on their mind.
The lyrics go a step further by emphasizing not even a sleeping pill can overcome a worried mind longing for someone. Between the amazing vocals, instrumentals, and relatable theme, it’s no surprise that the song ranked high on multiple charts.
Though it’s not among funny songs about sleep, it inspired the title of a black comedy film, Last Night, and was featured on its soundtrack.
“When You Sleep” – My Bloody Valentine
“When You Sleep” is awash with the slightly woozy--and rather noisy--ambiance of the group’s acclaimed 1991 album Loveless. Kevin Shield’s’ buried (just-below-the-surface) vocals fittingly sound as if he is singing directly upon waking from a deep nap.
A pleasantly catchy pop tune, albeit buried in layers of guitar, MBV often included it in their concert set lists.
“I Guess I Should Go to Sleep” – Jack White
Sounding a bit like a cross between jazz pianist Mose Allison and singer-songwriter Randy Newman, “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep” was a great deep cut on White’s 2012 solo debut Blunderbuss. The narrator is at the end of long day, tiredly reminding themselves that it’s probably best to go upstairs and get ready for bed.
There is a suggestion of a spat with a loved one: “keepin’ quiet is going to be my best bet.” With its jaunty feel, we suspect that the narrator will probably take a while longer to wind down.
“If You Talk in Your Sleep” – Elvis Presley
“If You Talk in Your Sleep” is a mid-tempo soulful shuffle with a hint of funk for good measure. The narrator warns his paramour; “Don’t give our secret away, be careful what you say.” Of course, people who talk in their sleep often have no control over doing so. Sweet dreams?
“Wake Up Little Susie” – the Everly Brothers
Alas, for Gen Z, this 1957 classic might require a little context. The narrator and his girlfriend have fallen asleep at the Drive-In, only for him to wake up at four in the morning, realizing that “we’re in trouble deep.” This rockabilly song was the duo’s first number one pop hit and also hit number one on the country charts.
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“Wake Me Up” – Avicii
The riff of this electro-dance hit is, without a doubt, the most easily recognized tune from the music of the 2010s.
The lyrics speak of sleep as a metaphor, but they offer a look into the bliss of youth. Eventually, we all “wake up” to the realities of the world.
Although Avicii’s time on Earth was short, the European DJ gave music lovers some of the most infectious dance tracks in history. This dance song about sleep remains a beloved hit that demands repeat listens to this day.
“Sweet Dreams” – Beyoncé
Queen Bey swoops in to remind us she, too, provided us with a pop song about sleep!
The lyrics of this upbeat pop track speak to the hypnosis of true love and how conflicting the feelings can become. Beyoncé feels torn about her feelings for the man she loves. She is unsure if he is a dream come true or an absolute nightmare.
We just want this song to continue to play so we can dance while she figures it out.
“Dreaming Of You” – Selena
Selena quickly rose to fame and became one of the most well-known Mexican-American singers in the world in the early 1990s.
This ballad is one of the star’s most beloved and well-known hits. The lyrics focus on the singer being so captivated by love that she stays up late to think of her future with the one she loves. She eventually drifts off to dream of her lover further.
Though Selena’s life was cut short, her artistry and influence live on through her powerful music today.
“Blinding Lights” – The Weeknd
We wonder if The Weeknd is comfortable knowing that although this is one of his most successful hits to date, it will forever remind listeners of the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The catchy lyrics detail how the singer cannot sleep while thoughts of his love spiral in his head after too many drinks. Though the tone is dark, the beat is quick, and the melody is sure to stay stuck in your head long after the track ends.
“I Go to Sleep” – the Pretenders
This Ray Davies song has been covered numerous times, most notably by Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders in 1981. Written by the Kinks front man while waiting for his first daughter to be born in 1965, this stately ballad remains a moving love song, wherein sleep—and imagination—promises to reunite the narrator with his loved one.
“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – The Tokens
Considered an oldie but a goodie, this song was written in the early 1960s when doo-wop was popular. Lions are predominantly nocturnal hunters and usually sleep during the day, so for a lion to sleep at night is odd.
The lyrics are simple. Like most doo-wop songs in the late 50s and early 60s, the tune is catchy. It may be a little hard to go to sleep with the up-tempo beat, but if the lion can sleep at night, you can too.
Just listening to the lyrics may help you doze off. The only downside to listening to this song is that you may dream about lions. Hopefully, it’s a good dream and not a nightmare!
“A Pillow of Winds” – Pink Floyd
A gorgeous acoustic number, with a hint of psychedelia courtesy of guitarist David Gilmour’s slide work, “A Pillow of Winds” documents the various stages of sleep—from falling asleep (“the book falls to the floor”), to active dreaming, to awakening in the morning, when “the first rays touch the sky.” This song suggests the later fusion of experimentation and song craft that the band would perfect on Dark Side of the Moon.
This calming song by Pink Floyd features a beautiful acoustic melody with guitar and bass playing simultaneously. Moreover, it offers an enchanting auditory experience with all the different sounds played in the background throughout the song.
While famous artists of the music industry do not always write music specifically about the act of sleeping, the topic pops up in more ways than one.
Musicians often explore what keep us awake rather than what allows us to rest.
From finding creative sounds to depict sleeping to describing it in all manner of metaphors and more, songs about sleep are both fascinating and relatable. And if you find yourself thinking of entering the dreamland during the day, there are also many amazing songs about daydreaming.
While many tunes seem to be related to dreaming, sleep is just as much of an important theme in music. After all, you cannot properly dream without getting a good eight hours of sleep.
Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.