Personal picks of songs to cure insomnia

By Karen Chin

RECENTLY, I’VE BEEN finding it hard to sleep at the time when other normal humans sleep. Blame it on my last job (or actually, my lack of a real job), for turning my nights into days, and vice versa.


Anyway, one night while trying to regulate my sleeping pattern, I was having trouble preparing for slumber. I went to my laptop and created a playlist (named MELLOW), put my headphones on… and slept like a baby that night.


So sit back, put those headphones on and have a listen to my personal picks of songs for insomnia. If they don’t sign you up for a snooze-fest, at least you’ll have enjoyed some seriously relaxing ear-candy!


1. I Shall Believe – Sheryl Crow


Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow is an American singer-songwriter who won a Grammy award for Best New Artist in 1995 and this track of hers is included in her debut album Tuesday Night Music Club. I Shall Believe carries a tune that is calming and soulful at the same time.

2. Songbird – Glee Cast

Songbird was originally written by the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. The song appeared on their album ‘Rumours’ which was released in the 70s and written based on the internal conflicts of the band members with each other. This song feels like the calm after a storm. I chose the cover version performed by Naya Rivera (an actress who plays Santana in the hit television series Glee) as it has clearer piano and vocal tracks which is better for a night of slumber.

3. Tequila Sunrise – The Eagles

Los Angeles-originated band The Eagles hail from the 70s, and their song ‘Tequila Sunrise’ emulates the feeling of relaxing on a beach and watching a sunrise (drink in hand optional). The soft rumba-style strumming of the guitar and smooth vocals make this song a staple in my playlist for a wind-down session.

4. Love Vigilantes – Iron & Wine


Iron and Wine

Iron & Wine

Turns out Iron & Wine is a stage-name for American singer-songwriter Samuel Beam, and this particular track of his is simplistic in nature, but nothing short of folk-music genius to me. The song, mellow in nature, carries a darker note in its message. It tells of a man in the army who was deployed and killed in action, only his spirit didn’t realise that as he eagerly returned home to find his wife and child grieving his death.


5. Walking After You – Foo Fighters


Foo Fighters are an American rock band known for their heavier rock tracks. Dave Grohl (front man) founded the band after the infamous suicide of Kurt Cobain, the legendary grunge-music pioneer and the front man of the band Nirvana (in which Grohl was the drummer). Maybe there’s something about the music, something about the tune or something about the voice; but one thing’s for sure, the song starts off with lyrics that can put you in a nice place for sleeping, ‘Tonight I’m tangled in my blanket of clouds’. Nice visualization, really.

6. Turn Your Lights Down Low – Bob Marley & The Wailers


There’s something about the melody to this song that is soothing and comforting. Bob Marley & The Wailers were a Jamaican reggae band, and this song was released in the late 70s. The remake version by Marley’s daughter-in-law Lauryn Hill was later released in 1999. “Turn your lights down low, and pull your window curtain, let the moon come shining in, into our lives again”, goes the lyrics. I’d recommend the original version for your siesta time as the version by Lauryn Hill with the hip-hop element and the yo-yo-yo rapping might make you too alert.

7. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman


American singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman released this hit single in the late 80s and it was listed in Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time (highest rank in history for a song written and performed by a female). This song tells of a broken family in poverty; and the empty dreams of running away from a bad life to a better one. Who hasn’t entertained the thought of jumping into your car, driving away to start a new life somewhere and never turning back? This song captures the essence of that, and that thought of a better place relaxes me.


8. Complicated Melody – India Arie


This is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Complicated Melody appears on American singer-songwriter India Arie’s second album Voyage To India, for which she picked up a Grammy Award for the best R&B album in 2003. The song paints you a picture of your loved one, smiling; and you just watching him from the outside of his world. The song is simplistic in nature, but is songwriting genius.


9. Lost In Space (acoustic version) – Lighthouse Family


Lighthouse Family are a British musical duo. Lost In Space has the lyrics and melody that brings you into a big world, floating and carefree, knowing your soul-mate is out there somewhere. I chose the acoustic version for your night time listening pleasure because it really helped me unwind.


10. The War On Drugs – Barenaked Ladies


Barenaked Ladies

Barenaked Ladies

Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies are one of my most favourite bands. They write quirky and funny lyrics, and create catchy melodies for their songs. This particular track however is actually quite depressing and thought-provoking from a lyrical point of view, and its tune is mellow and melodic. To me, it speaks strongly of the ‘demons’ that live in our minds, you know, the ones that whisper bad thoughts to us.

11. Song For A Winter’s Night – Sarah Mclachlan

Sarah Mclachlan (a Canadian singer-songwriter) covers this song written by a fellow Canadian folk singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot with her sultry vocals (she is known for her mezzo-soprano vocal range), layered with several notes to make the song completely mesmerising if not hypnotising. Close your eyes and listen to this song. It will bring you to a place with a warm, glowing fireplace that gently lights up the room, with snow quietly falling outside the window. Another song that helps you visualise a calm place.

12. Rest Your Love On Me – Bee Gees

Bee Gees were an English pop group consisting of three brothers that formed in 1958, and Rest Your Love On Me is a beautiful country ballad written and released in the late 70s. I just love this song, the melody and tune; but the lyrics “lay your troubles on my shoulders, put your worries in my pocket, rest on your love on me awhile” makes you feel like checking your worries at the door before a night of rest.

13. To Her With Love – Kara’s Flowers

Kara's Flowers

Kara’s Flowers

Maroon 5 is a pop-rock band from Los Angeles previously known as Kara’s Flowers. About fifteen years ago, I picked up this album in cassette form because of the interesting band name and found this lullaby-sounding track on it. Yes, it was the one and same Adam Levine singing on this sweet, beautiful track.

Photo credits:
Cover photo: AFP/Relaxnews
Sheryl Crow Official Website:
Barenaked Ladies Official Website:
Iron and Wine Official Website:

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