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?” by 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.
“No Sleep Till Brooklyn” by The Beastie Boys
New York City-based hip hop group, The Beastie Boys describe a long and tiring tour in this song, implying that they won’t quit or rest until they reach their hometown of 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” by 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” by 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. Though it’s meant to sound like a dance club anthem, “Insomnia” is definitely a deeper track.
“Talking In Your Sleep” by 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” by 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.
“Daysleeper” by 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” by 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.
“You Can Sleep While I Drive” by Melissa Etheridge
This 80s song talks about Etheridge’s desire to get out of town and encouraging her lover to join her on the adventure. Etheridge discusses passing through cities like New Orleans and Nashville but insisting that her lover can sleep while she does all the cross country driving.
“Asleep” by 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.
“Enter Sandman” by 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” by 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” by 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” by the Chordettes
The sandman here reappears in this 1954 single by female acapella group the Chordettes. 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.
“When You Sleep” by 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” by 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” by 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” by 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.
Ooh la la.
“I Go to Sleep” by 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.
“A Pillow of Winds” by 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.
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.