The Music a World-Class DJ Uses to Fall Asleep

DJ sleep secrets

I get asked about nighttime rituals a lot.

Though I always ask high-profile podcast guests about their morning routines, the evening wind down can get neglected.

So, what to do if you have trouble falling asleep? Or, like nearly all males in my family, you have severe onset insomnia? The morning might be a breeze, while the darkness is a nightmare.

I thought it’d be fun to look at a real-world example, sent to me via text by Justin Boreta, best known as “Boreta” of The Glitch Mob, one of the world’s biggest electronic bands. Their music has been featured in movies like Sin City II, Edge of Tomorrow, Captain America, and Spiderman.

Below is what he SMS’d me after listening to my 5 Tools I Use for Faster and Better Sleep (Thanks for permission to share, Justin!):

Ahoy, Cap’n Ferriss 🙂 I just heard your sleep podcast and wanted to share a great little routine I’ve been doing.

An incredible composer named Max Richter created this 8-hour album that is designed to help you fall asleep.

There is a shortened version that I listen to on Spotify:

I put it on very quietly as I am starting my bedtime routine, so it usually ends 15-20 minutes after I’m asleep. Or I will use the Sonos sleep timer, if I’m at home.

It started to have this Pavlovian knockout effect after a while if I use it every day, like a lullaby.

Alternatively, if that’s too much melody, there’s an artist called Mute Button that has high-quality, long-field recordings. The gentle rain sounds + sleep timer are fantastic. I find it great to drown out hotel sounds when traveling.

If you find these tips useful, don’t miss my longer interview with Justin, which is full of detailed tactics for life and business.

Questions for you all — Would you like me to describe more nighttime routines of top performers? And what nighttime routines or tools have you found most helpful in your own life?

Please let me know in the comments below.  Thanks!

Sweet dreams,


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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54 Replies to “The Music a World-Class DJ Uses to Fall Asleep”

  1. For another source of great sounds for sleeping, meditation, focus, etc. check out . He actually goes to locations to record everything from water in caves to the air hitting a wind glider to the sound of the ocean in Ireland.

  2. Yes, describe more nighttime routines of top performers and their night time routines.

    Thanks TIM for the effort you put to deliver your PODCAST with high quality it is really FABULOUS…..

  3. Yes please. More nighttime routines would be great!

    I have found the following to help:

    Using blackout curtains (if you sleep better with an eye mask, this will really help)

    Binaural beats on Sleephones

  4. Interesting, I’ve tried lots of things to be able to battle my insomnia but never tried music.

    Going to give that 8 hour playlist a try 🙂

  5. Hey Tim! Thanks for this =) I am listening right now. It’s deep!

    My favourite night time routine is a shower, brushing my teeth, and while the kettle boils and my relaxing cup of tea brews (usually chamomile) a few long stretches. I drink the tea sitting up in bed and write a gratitude list by hand.

    I’m definitely adding these Spotify tracks to the background though! Very nice. Thanks again.

  6. This was exactly what I was searching for this afternoon when I opened my browser and it was conveniently posted at the top of my news feed. Thanks once again.

  7. I’ll have to give this a listen and see how it works.

    I have no issues falling asleep. My wife teases me because I’ve fallen asleep while she was talking to me in bed.

    As mentioned in other places: The bed is for two things only, one of them is sleeping. Do not eat in bed. Do not watch TV in bed. Do not facebook, Instagram or tweet in bed. Just go the F to sleep.

    What I do use is a playlist of thunderstorms and rain. My wife does have issues getting to sleep and this helps her immensely. No music, no melody, no vocals. Just storms. For me this goes back to childhood and knocks me out even faster (so instead of 60 seconds to sleep it’s 15 seconds).

    Hope this helps somebody else.

  8. I have recently started creating a sleep ritual, including not looking at a (blue light) screen for 1.5 hours before bedtime. And though, yes, I have been using your ‘read non fiction’ advice, I found I needed to create a ‘list of things to do if I can’t be on a device’. I found it surprisingly difficult to come up with a robust list of stuff I actually want to do!

  9. Yes, I would really appreciate the nighttime routines of world-class individuals!

    I have recently heard a lot about the importance of hydration for quality sleep

    So here’s my sleep bomb for ya!

    – reading

    – a cup of herbal tea

    – Calm (magnesium supplement)

    – 10 drops of Trace Minerals

  10. If I’m having issues sleeping, a cold shower is a sure fire sleep aid. My wife and I will also listen to a fireplace track on the white noise app on my phone. Very soothing.

  11. Dear Tim, i love the music Justin shared, i would like to read more about the night time routine of strong people… but can you maybe post things for people like this guy: (Johnson went to jail at the age of 25. When he got out at 69, he rejoined a world that was starkly different from the one he remembered. He meditates and appreciates life differently.)

  12. Hey Tim

    Would love to hear night time routines as when I’m not heavily influenced by marijuana I have trouble getting any sleep. One mixture I’ve found particularly effective is 200 mg l-theanine, 6 mg 5htp, and 3 mg melatonin. Along with limiting blue light exposure, temperature control and not laying down until I’m ready to sleep. Binaural beats played through sleepphones are my ace in the hole.

  13. Dear Tim, i love Justin’s music, i would love to read more about the night time routine of strong people, but also about people like Johnson.

    He went to jail at the age of 25. When he got out at 69, he rejoined a world that was starkly different from the one he remembered. (youtube video – my life after 44 years in prison) He meditates and appreciates life in a much different way then most people, so for me he is quite strong and i am very curious to know more about that kind of people… P.S. thank you for the inspiration, you changed my life.

  14. I recommend the Relax Melodies app (iOS) which allows you to create a completely customized sound environment for any situation including sleep. In addition to many various ambient/relaxing sounds, it includes both binaural and isochronic tones. The latter is a brainwave entrainment method that doesn’t require headphones. I use my iPhone plugged into Tivoli Audio iPAL. Anyone with sleep issues (and I’ve had them all onset, maintenance, early wake, and sleep anxiety) should look into brainwave entrainment methods.

    From wikipedia:

    In direct contradiction to Novella’s claim, more than twenty-one independent peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled studies have been conducted between 1979 and 2012 which show a range of cognitive-behavioral benefits achieved through the practice of temporarily altering brain waves, including: cognitive enhancement after 6 weeks of gamma brain wave stimulation; improvement in academic achievement after beta brain wave stimulation; increase in alpha brain wave strength measured by EEG during meditation; substantial reduction in anxiety and corresponding increase in relaxation after theta brain wave stimulation; and reduction of headache pain, reduction of anxiety, and improved sleep after delta brain wave stimulation.

    Happy sleep everyone!

  15. I like the app Rain,Rain in iTunes and play the Airliner for some good white noise. Or listen to William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops (Remastered) version and slowly disintegrate into dreamland.

  16. wow judging by that photo Justin really does need a good sleep

    kind of ironic considering how many stimulants and drugs are used in rave culture!!

    Justin I know you must be doing well having soulled your music to hollywood, but out of solidarity with other less financial stable artists it would be nice if musicians stopped plugging Spotify considering Spotify expoitative practices towards musicans – ie they get virtually nothing back. Okay so whether you aspire to the ethos of Led Zeppelin, Radiohead and David Byrne and pull your music from their service is up to you but at least don’t give Spotify any further justification. considering the mass exposure of Tim Ferriss perhaps people could have been directed to the original websites of the musicians instead of a commercial streaming service

  17. Why is the album cover of When the Dust Settles by STS9 at the top of this article? Doesn’t seem to have anything to do with sleep habits…

  18. Night time routines would be a life saver. All my life I’ve had trouble sleeping but for most of the past year I’ve been on a cyclical ketogenic diet for health reasons. It’s done amazing things to my body but the only real downside is that ever since I started I’ve been a straight up insomniac. I take supplements but they usually only work for a few days before I have to let my tolerance subside. Well all except for alcohol :p and it’s not feasible to get shit faced every night.

  19. I’ve worked many years on call, and at night in the hospital…when transitioning back to day shift, I bought a sound & light machine that combines binaural audio with synchronized light sequences. Beat my insomnia in 3 days.

  20. Your blog posts are often about health and your commitment to it. About 6 months ago you were coming off of a very nasty bout with Lyme Disease and at that time 100% commitment to health, (I believe you said something along the lines of … ‘you can’t have it both ways…stay up all night partying and be healthy – something like that anyway) last week you’re on FB in a Canadian airport after 5 drinks, not the first time for that for sure (maybe the Canadian part but not the drinking and live-streaming part). Part of your commitment as I recall was about your business activity too and your worst-outcome list…

    The sleep habits and strategies outlined above are excellent – thanks for sharing. One of the very best things, if not THE best thing that helps with sleep and health and peace of mind is a really solid intimate relationship.

    I’m just wondering Tim, if you’re pup (very cute!) just maybe isn’t enough of a relationship to centre you, give you something to focus on outside of money and yourself. I’d love to experience a less tortured you.

    Hugs – Leaha

  21. Hey Tim,

    I’ve been following you for years and I think your incredible, thank you for everything that you do. In your recent podcast with Ed Norton you mentioned that even after all these years you still have all these nerves and stage fright and that you were going to be taking an improv acting class next month, I wanted to reach out to you because I am in your back yard and I can help you. I was the last teaching protégé of Sanford Meisner and his approach is all about being present and having complete freedom. We are located at the presidio, here’s my website and I hope to hear from you.

  22. Rule #1 Have the attitude that nighttime is for a retreat into peace and rejuvenation. (It’s now proven the brain rids itself of toxins at night.)

    Rule #2 Protect rule #1 with your life! No checking work email, watching jarring/violent content..etc

    Rule #3 Fall asleep listening to a soothing guided meditation.

  23. So happy you are thinking of nighttime rituals-I love them as much as the morning. Almost like a cleansing of the day. First, I have a bed that I love and super luxe bedding, dark, dark, dark and cool. So I want to go to bed every night. I begin with a warm-tepid shower and burst of cold with relaxing music in the background, get in bed with cup of tea or coffee, (which doesn;t affect me) some reading material from a real book to wind down and lights are out – I’m gone.

  24. Very “serendipitous” proposal for me, as just got out of bed broken, bcs it was another night of waking up every hour… Chronic insomnia is a b*tch! Saw your question and – yes, of course I am intereested:-)) on that note, If anyone has a problem FALLING asleep, I highly recommend hypnotherapy tracks…I am amazed they work even for me, a sceptical insomniac with 20year experience… Undortunately, the sleep doesn’t last… Thnx, Tim 😉

  25. Hey Tim,

    I’m a longtime lurker but this is exactly my wheelhouse so I thought I’d share some thoughts. I love the Max Richter album. It’s a great contemporary example of people’s quest to use sounds for psychoacoustic purposes. Sonic sleep aids usually breakdown into a few categories: nature field recordings, nature mixed with music, electronic mixed with acoustic music (think classic new age), and white/pink/etc noise. Of course, these all overlap and each has their pluses and minuses.

    Right now I’m actually working with the archive of Irv Teibel who is basically the godfather of using natural sound to assuage physiological ailments (insomnia, concentration problems). The work he did with his “environments series” predates Brian Eno’s ambient music and the flood of new age that became ubiquitous in the mid 70s and 80s. He’s worth a google if you’re curious about the roots of this phenomenon.

    As for actual composed music, people usually gravitate to minimalism or drone. I like Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Charlemagne Palestine, La Monte Young… I could go on and on.

    We’re currently developing an app with the Teibel recordings that I think will blow what’s already out there for sleep aids. But in the meantime, the best apps I’ve seen so far are myNoise and Noisli. Most others, like Relax Melodies, feature crappy audio quality and short loops which become annoying after you discover where they repeat.

    Love this stuff. Thanks for the spark!



  26. Yes please, I’m an athlete and sometimes a little stimulated to go to sleep… I can see what I need to do to improve this lol

    Bitalready downloaded this trying it tonight:)

  27. For the last 8 weeks or so i’ve been using every night for sleep. A brilliant new application. Has sounds for Focus, Relaxation, Meditation and Sleep, with a learning algorithym that use AI to build the best sounds for you based on your feedback after each session. You can either just select what you want to do, eg. sleep, and let it choose or you can select from different styles of sounds. Best with earphones. Using a sleep tracker, I can really see an improvement in sleep quality and patterns. Recommended.

  28. I use the app pzizz and insight timer. pzizz has a 20 min nap mode and a sleep mode and whilst the track is the same every time, it works every time. When I get tired of it, I use insight timer and meditate myself to dreamland

  29. First up. Stay far away from melatonin whether in crude or homeopathic form. There are many papers written about the danger of supplementing with melatonin. Messing with the endocrine system is a huge hazard. Melatonin controls the ”conductor of the orchestra’ the pituitary gland which controls ALL your hormones and glands. Sure you may feel better by removing symtpoms, but just like a paracetamol removes a headache whilst damaging your liver – an invisible cascading chain reaction is occuring when you spike the pituitary with these artifical doses of melatonin. Science simply DOES NOT understand the implications of fucking with the endocrine system.

    It could wreak havoc for decades. DON’T do it.

    Another warning 😉 Pulsed microwave radiation. I’m reading all these comments about meditation apps and music apps etc. Well for heavens sake if you are putting headphones in your ears put your phone on FLIGHT MODE – installing a button that turns off everything is easiest – if you do it manually you have to turn off cellular, bluetooth, wi fi, and the electronic wallet payment broadcast which has an acronym I can’t remember (if you phone has that bug, er, I mean feature)

    Wearing headphones creates an antenna which transmits pulsed microwave radiation directly into your brain. Aside from the obvious issues of doing this when awake – meditating and sleeping are when your brain is MOST vulnerable to pulsed microwave radiation. So, putting aside whatever approaches are necessary to limit your exposure in general,

    1. for gods sake put your phone on flight mode if you are using meditation or sleep applications etc – headphones or not

    2. For sleep – unplug your modem!!

    Couple of things need to made clear here

    1. YES obviously we can’t totally avoid our exposure to wi fi, phones etc.

    But people use that as an excuse to not do ANYTHING about it.

    Well, the nature of the signal means it is very strong at the source then

    rapidly drops off with distance. So, your home is THE MOST important

    place to be wi-fi and bluetooth etc free. And especially when you sleep

    your computer and laptop etc are constantly sending out a WIF and bluetooth I ‘seek’ signal so you need to disable those as well as the router

    Creating perfect sleep is not possible unless you do this in your immediate environment

    Okay ‘Tim Ferriss lifestyle’ fans. Are you up for the self experiment challenge? Take steps to remove all the pulsed microwave radiation? See how much your mood, your health, training. relationships etc all improve? Remove exposure you can actually be responsible for (Which is actually a lot)

    All that exposure you have responsiblity for is also going to the most important as those kinds of exposure (your own modem, laptop, phone etc) are when you are the closest to the source of the signal (See above)

    It’s EASY to create a corded connection at home with network if necessary.

    D-LAN plugs are another option, they turn your household wiring into a network so any power point becomes a plug in internet point. they do create a lot of EMF output but if it’s your only option and you don’t want to run internet cables around the place D LAN plugs they are better than being wireless

    This is a bit of lifestyle change, it requires awareness and adjustment and education. There are a variety of steps to incorporate

    As modems transmit WI FI all the time you need to get into the diagnostic setup home page to manually disable it. Then in network settings on your laptop disable wifi and blue tooth there.

    Get into the habit of relying on texting instead of cellular phone calls.

    Use speaker phone on a table without handling your phone

    But if there’s only one thing you do, get the inside of your home wi fi emission free when asleep!! It is SO important

    I know people that sleep walk if they forget to unplug the modem

    By the way there are over 10,000 published papers on the biological hazards of pulsed microwave radiation. Schools around the world are banning it. The national library in Paris has banned it amongst other eminent institutions in Europe.

  30. I used to love focus@will for this kind of stuff, and the sleep meditation on headspace, but heard about a while ago from an appsumo deal and it kicks ass.

    I made the switch cause I found I’ll now work or read totally focused for hours now if I’m using headphones. Works the best for me by far.

  31. Yes, please ask more top performers about their nighttime routines. Nighttime is when I start to feel invincible and stay up, but then feel terrible all the next day, until that time of night again! I’m learning that I need ignore the super-woman side of me that emerges at that time, because I’m much happier and more clear-headed the next day if I go to sleep before the short-lived energy kicks in.

  32. Tim, any insights on this topic would be much appreciated. I’ve experimented in a variety of ways in the past to improve the quality of sleep I am getting as well being able to shut down, calming that inner voice. Here are the best things I’ve come up with so far but still looking for more growth and improvement in this area:

    – routine, routine, routine (both pm and am)

    – listening to binaural beats in the 4-8 Hz frequency

    – eye mask (made the change to the one you recommended and much better than my previous one)

    – applying a salve to my temples and nape of my neck directly before going to bed (base of beeswax & almond oil and contains lavendar flowers, rose petals, chamomile flowers, mugwort, borage, rosemary, and essential oils)

  33. Yes please. I’ve trouble sleeping at night and it impacts my performance at work the next day. Would love to know more about how to fall asleep and sleep better too. Thank you for the great content.

  34. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for everything as always. Would LOVE to hear more from Podcast guests about sleeping rituals. I’ve found it’s very important to make sure I go to bed in a peaceful state of mind.

    If I go to bed grumpy, I’m likely to wake up grumpy.

    If I’m in a bad mood before I go to bed then writing down whatever’s going on in my head (in exactly the same way you would with morning pages) is very helpful.

    I’ve also occasionally meditated before going to bed.

    I think it’s a really important topic so YES – would love to hear more about it on the podcast.

    No exaggeration – your podcast has changed my life – thank you 🙂

    All the best,

    Adam, London

  35. “Would you like to describe more nighttime routines of top performers?”

    I wouldn’t mind knowing but not in too much detail.

    “And what nighttime routines or tools have you found most helpful in your own life?”

    My typical routine is about 1 hour before I hit the sack I turn off all the white light in the house and turn the yellow halogens/bulbs on. About half an hour before I sleep I just keep my yellow reading rope light on which provided ambient light only. I use f.lux on my iPad and I read for about 45 minutes. This includes a good ebook, and articles shared by my friends. After this, it hardly takes my more than 3 minutes to doze off.

    There’s a concept in Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach which talks about us being nothing but thought, that we are free to go anywhere at any point of time, that we are free. I recommend you read the 40-page book.

    One thing that helps me sleep when I have difficulty sleeping is thinking that I’m free, that I can traverse space-time by just thought, and automatically I’m transported to the dream state. 🙂

  36. I listen to a podcast of a dutch geekpriest named Roderick Vonhögen and he mentioned something in his latest post cast [Moderator: link removed] about jetlags that sounds very logical:

    you will wake up in the middle of the night because of your jetlag. Don’t stress out. Don’t be afraid you won’t get enough sleep. These are the rules: Don’t leave the bed, don’t watch tv, pick a book (paper or digital) and start reading. Wait for the sleepy feeling to kick in and put the book away.

    I don’t have any problem sleeping, but these tips sound promising. Also for people with regular insomnia perhaps. Key is not to worry I guess. Does this make any sense?

  37. Would love to hear nighttime routines of top performers!

    Used to have big trouble falling asleep where lying in bed for 1-2 hours was not uncommon.

    My 3 nighttime strategies, in order of importance:

    1. Leaving phone in another room (this one is the key! thanks Tim), and no other screens/lights in the room either.

    2. The temperature of my feet has to be in a comfortable zone. Especially avoiding being too hot – taking 5 minutes to cool feet in cold water if need be.

    3. If my mind is running, I let an audiobook on an ipod shuffle (no screen) take over. After 10-15 minutes I’ll realize that I’m becoming unconscious, not listening anymore and turn it off.

    “An audiobook?! that’s preposterous, it’s just more stimuli!” you say.. An audiobook (or podcast) entices me to go to bed earlier. It does take around 5 minutes longer than a lullaby to get me to a state of unconsciousness, but it gets me in bed up to an hour earlier than other types audio.

    *Bonus strategy. Ejaculating, crude but it usually works.

  38. Eat a little if your having a hard time sleeping and sip a warm team that should do the trick. Well that always work for me.

  39. Great blog. Actually, a lot of people nowadays are having a hard time going to sleep. A good music is such a really good help. It will relax your mind. Another tip, don’t over think during night when you’re about to sleep. There are instances that when we lay down to bed, we really tend think a lot of things. For example what would be your plans for tomorrow or what happened today. Sleeping is our only time give our self a break after a long day. We all deserve a good sleep.

  40. I would like to know more about nighttime routines.

    I have a solid morning routine in place, I’d like to get my nighttime routine set up to support my morning routine.

    One other specific piece: How to start the “winding down process” 1-2 hours before sleep.

    ps. I’ve been enjoying the sleep music!

  41. I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but I found the “Sleep” music and gave it a go – slept like a log. Great stuff. And I’ve discovered the Glitch Mob at the same time.

  42. Haha thanks for this article. I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately and i’m gonna put some of these tips to work and see if it helps. I have been trying to sleep without television or music on when trying to fall asleep but maybe I’d just been listening to the wrong music. Thanks again for this.