Best Sleep Music Apps

Slumber is the best sleep music app overall

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
woman

Stocksy / Design by Zackary Angeline

Whether it’s having a hard time falling asleep, constantly waking up throughout the night, or more severe insomnia, many of us aren’t getting the sleep we need to stay healthy and alert. While some turn to sleep aids like supplements to fall asleep, a more holistic option is sleep music apps. 

Created with the help of sleep and meditation experts, these music sleep apps can feature a mix of background noises, musical compositions, bedtime stories, and nightly meditation exercises that aim to help you not only fall asleep and stay asleep, but also have better quality sleep.

Ahead, we’ve rounded up the best sleep music apps that will help you stop staring at the ceiling in the wee hours of the morning.

Best Sleep Music Apps of 2022

Best Overall: Slumber

Slumber

Slumber

Key Specs

Price: Free limited access, $7.99 monthly, $49.99 annually, or $249.99 lifetime

Platforms: Android, iOS

Key Features:

  • Volume on background sounds is fully customizable
  • Huge library of a variety of sounds including ASMR
  • Includes usage and sleep tracker

Why We Chose It: Slumber helps you sleep better through a variety of auditory relaxation techniques that include music, nature sounds, guided visualization, breath control, autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), and even hypnosis.

Pros

  • Developed by sleep experts
  • Multiple methods of sleep techniques offered
  • Music is customizable

Cons

  • Limited selection in free version

With an audio library that includes soundscapes, stories, music, and meditations, Slumber truly has something for everyone in its vast library. The science-based techniques are approved by the National Sleep Foundation and allow you to choose the method that works best for you, whether that’s a story series, meditation, or just simple music. New stories and meditations are added each week, so there’s always something to discover. 

If you prefer to keep it strictly focused on music and sound effects, you can customize the settings to control not only what sounds you hear, but mix and match them to create your perfect mix and control which noises are dominant. With options like rain, crackling flames, binaural beats (two tones played in alternating ears of headphones), and a flowing river, you can find the soothing sounds to comfort and calm your mind into slumber. There are also soundscapes, which are pre-made mixes of sounds that create an auditory experience like walking through a forest. For those that aren’t fans of sound effects, the Sleep Music section is dedicated purely to music compositions that are designed to help you relax.

You can gain limited access to the app for free, but to unlock the full experience, you’ll need to pay a subscription fee. You can opt to go month-to-month for $7.99 a month, pay a yearly fee of $49.99, or go all in with a lifetime subscription of $249.99.

Best Free Version: Bettersleep

BetterSleep logo

Key Specs

Price: Free limited access; $59.99 annually for premium

Platforms: Android, iOS

Key Features:

  • Vast array of sleep sounds
  • Chronotype quiz to help choose optimal bed and rise times
  • Sleep Tracker

Why We Chose It: Create custom sleep tracks using this user-friendly app that also lets you pair guided meditations with your perfect sleep mix.

Pros

  • Fully customizable
  • Robust library of sounds

Cons

  • Not as many melodies to choose from as sounds

Bettersleep was known as Relax Melodies until November 2021, but the only thing that changed is the name. Pricing is the same, login credentials are the same, and the app simply needs to be updated to reflect the new name.

Free apps usually have a very limited catalog of options, but Bettersleep is the exception, offering a wide variety of sounds in an array of categories, from nature and animals to melodies and brain waves. 

Its interface is easy to navigate, which lets you visually compose your track and blend your sounds together. You control the intensity of each sound to your specifications and the app lets you favorite your compositions too. If you prefer your tracks pre-made, you can explore a selection of user-submitted and staff-created mixes that are ready for you to use. There are also meditations, stories, and melodies, but your options are a little more limited there as the catalog is not as diverse in the free option.

While the free version is expansive, there is still a lot to unlock in the premium version, which you can access for a fee of $59.99 a year.

Best Meditation & Music Hybrid: Headspace

Headspace

 Headspace

Key Specs

Price: Free limited access, $12.99 monthly, or $69.99 annually

Platforms: Android, iOS

Key Features:

  • Offline use
  • Focused on "sleep hygiene" - creating sleep routine and improving sleep quality
  • Offers extended play
  • Targeted content for a variety of sleep situations


Why We Chose It: Headspace is the perfect mix of mindfulness and sleep aid, letting you toggle between meditation and relaxation depending on your needs.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Immersive experience
  • Holistic approach to sleep wellness

Cons

  • You have to pay to get the majority of sleep content

While Headspace is known primarily as a meditation app, it also has a pretty amazing sleep music function. It takes the same approach to stress reduction and slowing down your mind and body and applies it to your sleep habits. The overall focus of Headspace is truly around better “sleep hygiene,” or creating a routine that helps to improve not only how fast you fall asleep, but the quality of that sleep.

The sleep function is easy to find and even easier to use, with a library of content ranging from music to soundscapes to sleep radio, which offers extended play of your music of choice. The timer function is also handy, allowing you to customize the length of your play.

There’s also more targeted content that focuses on situational aspects, including SOS content for when you are awoken in the middle of the night and need help getting back to sleep, as apparently the brain needs a different kind of experience than it does when it’s trying to initially fall asleep. 

Headspace does have a free version, but there is very little sleep content available there. In order to unlock the full benefits, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid subscription, which is $12.99 a month or $69.99 annually. It’s pricey, but it does give you access to a vast content library of both sleep and meditation programs and features to tackle everything from work stress to feelings of loneliness and anxiety.

It takes care of your mental health and stress levels during the day, which can help impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep come bedtime.

Best Variety: Pzizz

Pzizz

Pzizz

Key Specs

Price: Free limited access, $7.99 monthly, $49.99 annually

Platforms: Android, iOS

Key Features:

  • In-house scientist guides sound engineers with science-backed research
  • Voiceovers customizable separately from music on same track
  • Customizable timer

Why We Chose It: With its science-backed psychoacoustic approach, Pzizz has an array of ways to help you fall asleep that match your specific needs and an algorithm that makes minor adjustments to improve your experience each time you use it. 

Pros

  • Multiple voices to choose from
  • Personalization algorithm
  • Custom timer
  • Offline use

Cons

  • Can’t customize your sleep music tracks
  • Can be confusing to navigate

Pzizz is based on the science of psychoacoustics, that is, the branch of psychology dedicated to the perception of sound and its physiological effect. The app uses research on how sounds affect sleep and uses that to help build their “dreamscapes”—combinations of music, voiceovers, and sound effects—to ensure they have clinically proven benefits for your sleep habits.

The voiceover feature is another unique aspect because it allows more control than any other app on the market, giving you the option to decide how loud the voice is separate from the volume of the music, as well as multiple voice variations and a 3D effect. The narrations themselves will automatically change each time you use them, but you can also omit them entirely if you prefer your sleep tracks to be talk free. To round out the customization, you can set your timers to any length and the dreamscape will adapt to fit that time. This is especially handy if you are using Pzizz for its napping functionality. It also has a built-in alarm, so you don’t have to set a separate one outside of the app.

While the app is free, it only comes with two dreamscapes and two narrations, so if you want to unlock the full library, as well as a focus module for daytime clarity and other premium features including curated alarm sounds, you’ll need to pay the $9.99 a month or $69.99 a year for a subscription.

Best For Kids: Sleepiest

Sleepiest

Sleepiest

Key Specs

Price: $9.99 monthly, $49.99 annually

Platform: iOS

Key Features:

Kid-targeted stories

Lullabies for babies

Parental controls

Why We Chose It: Sleepiest is geared towards helping make bedtime easier for children by introducing them to healthy sleep habits via bedtime stories, white noise, and calming music.

Pros

  • Gives kids the tools to cultivate good sleep hygiene
  • Easy for them to navigate

Cons

  • Requires you to have a device in your kid’s room
  • Expensive
  • Not available on Android

Sleep problems are not limited to adults. A study in the American Academy of Pediatrics found that between 25 and 50% of preschoolers and up to 40% of adolescents experience sleep-related issues. While not specifically geared towards children, Sleepiest is kid-friendly and loaded with bedtime stories and soothing noises and music that will help lull kids to sleep. It has parental controls that ensure kids can’t move around outside of the app but allows them to explore on their own to find what sounds and stories fit their sleep-promoting needs.

There are four categories to choose from: Sounds, Composer, Meditate, and Stories. Sounds features soothing music and background noises like rain and birds, while Composer lets kids create their own melodies using those sounds for a custom track. Meditate has guided meditations and relaxation techniques, while Stories is a collection of narrated stories ranging from classics like Sleeping Beauty to some lesser-known and more modern fare. The parental controls also allow you to set a timer to automatically turn off the audio after a certain amount of time.

Whether to use the app comes down to how comfortable you are allowing a device into your child’s room at night. While the parental controls and enabling Guided Access on an iPhone allow you to manage what they can do with the app and ensure they stay in that app, some parents may not want to add that distraction. The price is also steep: $9.99 for a monthly subscription or $49.99 for a yearly one. However, it does allow family sharing so up to six family members can use it.

Best for Celebrity Voices - Calm

Calm logo from Calm.com

Key Specs

Price: $14.99 monthly, $69.99 annually

Platform: Android, iOS

Key Features:

  • Stories narrated by A-List celebrities
  • Exclusive remixes by A-List musicians
  • Content creation guided by scientific research

Why We Chose It: Calm is a comprehensive mindfulness app with a fully developed sleep vertical that makes ample use of the voice of numerous well-loved pop stars, actors, and influencers.

Pros

  • Fall asleep to the voices of your favorite celebs
  • Original, scientifically-backed compositions
  • Vast library of regularly-updated content

Cons

  • Amount of information can be overwhelming to maneuver through
  • Not as personalized to individual sleep needs as other apps
  • Majority of content only accessible through subscription

With over 100 million users worldwide, Calm is an extremely popular mindfuness app dedicated to relaxation, meditation, and sleep. Their extensive library of sounds includes what they refer to as ‘sleep stories’, exclusive music, nature sounds, soundscapes, and guided meditations.

Calm is popular with good reason, however. Sleep stories are narrated by celebrities like Harry Styles and Regé-Jean Page; there is also unique music created by the likes of Keith Urban and Disney, and exclusive-to-the-app remixes by pop musicians like Ariana Grande and Katie Perry. There is even a track called “Happy Little Zzzs” which is a run of brush strokes made by the cherished PBS painter, Bob Ross. Calm’s numerous celeb appearances definitely makes it a welcomed standout in the sleep app crowd.

Calm also conducts extensive research on their sounds and the use of their app so that your mindfulness experience is fully backed by scientific findings. Recommendations by top psychologists, therapists, and mental health experts, prove that experts agree with Calm's offerings.

So if you’ve ever fantasized about stars like Matthew McConaughey whispering you off to dreamland, Calm will definitely make that dream come true. But it’ll cost you as there is a free version, but out of the hundreds of sounds available on the app, only a tiny fraction are accessible without a subscription. You’ll spring $69.99 for an annual membership, $14.99 if you pay monthly, and a one-time $399.99 for a lifetime of access.

Final Verdict

Slumber was developed by sleep experts with the sole purpose of helping you get to sleep. Backed by scientific research, the app allows you to customize music, sleep meditations, sleep-inducing stories for adults and kids, ASMR soundscapes, binaural beats, and white noise. While the free version has an above average number of samplings that will appeal to those with mild sleep issues, those looking for a truly immersive journey into sleep wellness and corrective techniques should splurge on the pro version. With its wide selection of highly customizable sounds, you're almost guaranteed to have a satisfying, highly personal experience with Slumber, and that's what makes it our best overall pick.

FAQ
  • How Do Sleep Music Apps Work?

    Sleep music apps provide downloadable content that can be streamed to your phone with the goal of helping you fall asleep faster and get better quality REM. They can be dedicated solely to sleep or be part of more expansive mindfulness and meditation apps. They typically contain some mix of music, sounds, narration, and stories that can either be customized and created by you from a series of options or are in a catalog of pre-made tracks for you to choose from.

  • How Much Do Sleep Music Apps Cost?

    Many of the available apps offer some type of free content, be it a trial period or a limited selection of sounds and features. To gain access to premium content, you’ll need to subscribe to the service, either through a monthly, yearly, or, in some cases, lifetime access pass. These can range from $7.99 to $12.99 a month to $49.99 to $69.99 annually.

  • Do Sleep Music Apps Really Work?

    Many studies have been done about the importance of good sleep hygiene and how engaging in relaxing activities like meditation before bedtime can help encourage better sleep. How sleep apps play into that, however, is still largely unstudied. While clinical evidence on sleep music app efficacy is still lacking, anecdotal evidence is effusive, with thousands of five-star reviews for all of the apps featured on this list.

  • What Is the Most Effective Sleep Music?

    The most effective method varies from person to person. One study that found music to be an effective sleep aid for many subjects also found that specific listening choices varied widely among subjects. In addition to different forms of music, background sounds such as rain or white noise also are options with most apps.

  • Is There a Completely Free Sleep App?

    Most apps offer some form of free content. How extensive the free version is depends on the app. Of our selections, the only app that does not offer a free version is Sleepiest. Our top choice for a free version, Bettersleep, has a good selection of sounds available for no cost. If you want to save money, it probably is best to try out as many apps as possible to see which ones have the free sounds that best suit your preferences.

Methodology

Our top picks for the best sleep music apps are a combination of music, narration, and background effects that allow the user to customize to their specifications. Each needed to have easy-to-use interfaces that made navigation easy (since no one wants to have to do a brainteaser when they are trying to get to sleep) and functionality options like timers. 

We also looked at pricing and subscription models to ensure a variety of budgets were represented and ensured that free content was available, either in the form of trial periods or with a selection of tracks and sounds for those not ready to commit to a subscription.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Bhargava S. Diagnosis and management of common sleep problems in children. Pediatrics In Review. 2011;32(3):91-99. doi:10.1542/pir.32-3-91

  2. Trahan T, Durrant SJ, Müllensiefen D, Williamson VJ. The music that helps people sleep and the reasons they believe it works: A mixed methods analysis of online survey reports. Fulda S, ed. PLoS ONE. 2018;13(11):e0206531. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0206531

Related Stories