My girlfriend loves sleeping. She could win a sleep marathon by a fair margin (yeah, she can do it for 24 hrs if possible). This list of songs about sleeping is some of her favorite songs.
Let’s jump straight to it, and hopefully, you aren’t asleep in the middle of it.
- 1. Enter Sandman – Metallica
- 2. No Sleep Till Brooklyn – The Beastie Boys
- 3. Mr. Sandman – The Chordettes
- 4. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham!
- 5. Sleeping on the Blacktop – Colter Wall
- 6. I’m Only Sleeping – The Beatles
- 7. Golden Slumbers – The Beatles
- 8. I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing – Aerosmith.
- 9. Lights – Ellie Goulding
- 10. Go To Sleep – Radiohead
- 11. Lullabye Goodnight My Angel – Billy Joel
- 12. Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
- 13. Ode to Sleep – Twenty One Pilots
- 14. Asleep – The Smiths
- 15. Sleep Now in The Fire – Rage Against the Machine
- 16. If You Talk in Your Sleep – Elvis Presley
- 17. Wake Up Little Susie – The Everly Brothers
- 18. I Went To Sleep – The Beach Boys
- 19. The Tokens – The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
- 20. Kiera – Tony Sly
- 21. Sleepwalkers – Brian Fallon
1. Enter Sandman – Metallica
Iconic. Thundering. Anthemic. Epic, crushing, and catchy. You’ve likely learned at least the intro riff if you play guitar. Enter: Sandman. “Enter Sandman” opens Metallica’s self-titled fifth studio album, dubbed.
“The Black Album” signals an artistic shift from its metal origins to something more radio-friendly. Yet, it is still crushingly heavy, not to mention popular. As of 2022, “The Black Album,” a Bob Rock-produced masterpiece, has sold 28.3 million copies.
“Enter Sandman” is about crib death and the destruction it causes to the family unit. Heavy subject for a serious song.
Metallica took over Moscow in 1991. Enter Sandman. Enough said! Enjoy this time capsule into the power of Metallica. Metallica – Enter Sandman (Live 1991)
2. No Sleep Till Brooklyn – The Beastie Boys
NO SLEEP TILL….cue the guitar riff! “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” is where hard rock meets New York hip-hop, and it’s straight out of 1986: It’s glorious.
Featured on their debut album, 1986’s Licensed to Ill, The Beastie Boys recorded “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” with mega-producer Rick Rubin and features a noisy, whammy bar filled guitar solo from Slayer’s Kerry King.
The song is about the grind of touring and how the band won’t sleep until they get home to Brooklyn. “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” was featured in the Guitar Hero: World Tour video game in 2008. While many artists have covered “No Sleep,” fellow Brooklyn legend Jay-Z may have my favorite cover of “No Sleep.”
Jay-Z replaced the Beastie Boys as the headliner of the All Points West festival in 2009 when the Beastie Boys were forced to cancel their performance after MCA (Adam Yauch) was diagnosed with cancer.
Jay-Z opened his set with “No Sleep till Brooklyn” as a tribute to the Beastie Boys. Unfortunately, MCA died in 2012 after a three-year battle with cancer. Next time you are on the road and tired, you know what to do: NO SLEEP TILL…cue the guitar riff!
3. Mr. Sandman – The Chordettes
“Mr. Sandman?” “Yes.” “Bring me a dream!” The Chordette’s vocal harmonies on this classic song are dreamy. “Mr. Sandman” topped the charts for seven weeks in 1954, later earning a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 2002.
The song is about a young woman who wants to custom order a boyfriend, so her lonely nights are over. She appeals to Mr. Sandman to fulfill this order while she dreams of her perfect man.
The song was featured in the movie Cry Baby (1990), starring Johnny Depp as a juvenile rockabilly delinquent. “Mr. Sandman” is performed by Baldwin and the Whiffles and a children’s amusement park.” No spoilers.
Get lost amongst the dreamy harmonies of The Chordettes in this all-time classic from 1954.
4. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham!
“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” is 80s dance-pop perfection, and I’m always here for it. Written and produced by George Michael, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” garnered its inspiration from a typo on a note left by his parents.
“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was Wham! ‘s first number one hit, topping charts across the globe and selling 2 million copies of the single.
The song found enduring fame in a new millennium when featured during the gasoline fight scene in Zoolander (2001).
The song is about a guy who adores a girl and is bummed when she goes dancing while he’s sleeping. Catchy and straightforward, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” will continue to stand the test of time and fly the flag for 80’s dance pop.
This song is sweet, and it’ll make your cheeks hurt.
5. Sleeping on the Blacktop – Colter Wall
Saskatchewan, Canada’s Colter Wall is an Americana throwback. You can taste the western prairie dust in the air of this song with every bass drum kick.
The song’s intro rolls its way down to the main verse, a stomper of a riff to start the track from Wall’s debut album Imaginary Appalachia.
The song is about a rambling man (or maybe an outlaw) running from the troubles and demons that chase him.
This drifter finds himself sleeping on the blacktop, moving from town to town. If you like rootsy-American sounds, Colter Wall might be the best doing it today.
6. I’m Only Sleeping – The Beatles
John Lennon liked to sleep. Later in life, Lennon pioneered protesting for peace and against the Vietnam war from the comforts of bed during two-week-long bed-ins in 1969.
Lennon was so lazy that Paul McCartney would have to wake him for writing sessions, and the only physical activity that interested him was sex. “I’m Only Sleeping” pioneered the use of a backward guitar effect.
Released in 1966 on the all-time classic Revolver, “I’m Only Sleeping” is a psychedelic rock masterpiece about the peacefulness of sleep and not wanting to be woken from it.
7. Golden Slumbers – The Beatles
Abbey Road is one of the greatest albums of all time. It’s a masterpiece. Released in 1969, side 2 of Abbey Road features a run of short songs that seemingly form one long climatic song to close the record.
From “Sun King” to “Her Majesty,” side two closes by moving through each song as if they were one song with different shifts in the scenery, and “Golden Slumbers” is directly in the middle of this masterpiece.
Written by Paul McCartney, “Golden Slumbers” takes inspiration from Thomas Dekker’s Patient Grissel and tells the story of trying to sing someone to sleep with promises that good dreams await. ‘
“Golden Slumbers” was recorded simultaneously as “Carry That Weight,” and the two songs seem almost inseparable.
Notably, John Lennon is not featured on “Golden Slumbers,” having been in a motor vehicle accident in Scotland and was in the hospital.
8. I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing – Aerosmith.
The official video for Aerosmith’s first number 1 single, complete with scenes from the movie. No spoilers, I hope! Aerosmith – I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.
Aerosmith had been a staple of rock radio and MTV for decades but had never had a number 1 hit single before 1998.
Written by Diane Warren with other performers in mind, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” became Aerosmith’s first number 1 single in America.
Much of the song’s success can be attributed to being the signature ballad in the commercially successful Armageddon (1998), starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Liv Tyler – the daughter of Aerosmith lead singer Stephen Tyler.
The song is about a lover who’d rather sacrifice their sleep not to miss a moment of their time with their lover.
9. Lights – Ellie Goulding
When released, Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” wasn’t a synthpop smash hit that shot to the top of the charts. Initially released in 2010, “Lights” took time to gain traction to climb the charts peaking at number 2 after 33 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
However, “Lights” joined a select group of songs by staying on the Hot 100 for over a year. “Lights” takes its inspiration from Goulding’s childhood fear of the dark and tells the story of an emotionless person whose troubles have created darkness within them that is too hard to overcome.
As the person’s darkness grows, so does the person’s sleeplessness.
10. Go To Sleep – Radiohead
Radiohead is one of those bands whose reputation proceeds them. We are sure you have heard plenty of their genius.
Often that genius is tied to records rather than individual songs. “Go To Sleep” stands out more for its meaning than its commercial success.
“Go To Sleep” is the second single from 2003’s Hail to the Theif and is political. Written and recorded during the build-up to the George W. Bush-led American coalition war in Iraq.
The song is about how powerless we feel when we march in the streets for our voices to be heard and demand peace while our leaders continue unabated on their march to war.
11. Lullabye Goodnight My Angel – Billy Joel
A song for all the parents out there. “Lullabye Goodnight My Angel” is a piano ballad in the key of G major. Billy Joel wrote this song for his daughter after she asked where people go when they die.
The song is a lullaby in which the parent tells the child to rest easy and sleep well, that a beautiful future lies ahead, and that they’ll never be far away.
The narrator tells the child that one day she’ll sing the song to her kids, as he did to her, connecting generations along the way.
It’s quite an emotional song that resonates with the human experience across cultural, generational, or any other differences.
Where Did You Sleep Last Night – Nirvana (Lead Belly)
The unedited performance with a slice of Nirvana’s humor before they get serious.
12. Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
Also known as “In the Pines,” the origins of this song date back to 1880s Appalachia, initially popularized by American Blues artist Lead Belly.
However, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” is now most famously associated with Nirvana’s all-time great album, MTV Unplugged in New York (1993).
Kurt Cobain’s vocal performance on this blues classic is something to behold. The song is about a man aggressively questioning a girl about where she spent the night.
Is the girl an escaped slave or a runaway, or a lover wanting to leave? We don’t know, but the song and Cobain’s performance are powerful and haunting.
For my money, MTV Unplugged in New York is Nirvana’s best record, and it closes with this incredible performance of an American folk classic.
13. Ode to Sleep – Twenty One Pilots
“Ode to Sleep” was recorded and released as a single twice in two years. Twenty-One Pilots initially recorded and released “Ode to Sleep” on their independently released album Regional at Best 2011as independent artists in 2010.
After signing to record label Fuelled By Ramen, the duo rerecorded and rereleased “Ode to Sleep” on their third record, “Vessel.”
The song’s shift to the chorus is reminiscent of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky.” The music video for the song might be the most underappreciated aspect of this song.
Filmed at different hometown shows during Twenty-One Pilots’ rapid rise to success, it shows the band playing in front of 12 people – something all musicians have seemingly experienced – and ascending to arena headliner status. Brilliant concept for a ride of a song about sleep.
14. Asleep – The Smiths
The Smiths hold a special place in 80s music, significantly impacting future “emo” artists. Morrissey is a more introspective poet than a rock and roll frontman.
This is on full display in “Asleep.” Originally released as a b-side to “The Boy With the Thorn in His Side” in 1985, “Asleep” is about a person who wants to sleep and wake up not alone and in a better world. But the narrator’s tone is not of hope but despair.
The narrator wants to go to sleep, hoping the better world is on the other side, reassuring the listener that this is what he truly wants. “Asleep” is dark, moody, and haunting.
15. Sleep Now in The Fire – Rage Against the Machine
There is only one Rage Against The Machine. “Sleep Now in the Fire” features Tom Morello’s distinct telecaster-fueled guitar riff and a rhythm that one can describe with terms like “bounce” and “groove.” RATM have the jam, and no one can cop their groove.
However, all RATM songs come armed with a message. “Sleep Now In The Fire” is about the grip of capitalism on Western society and speaks to the evils of colonization, slavery, and widespread destruction in the name of Capitalism and America.
In the song, Zach de la Rocha takes on the role of an entitled and empowered conservative politician across decades, reminding the listener that we are at the end of history and that there is nowhere to go, “there is no other pill to take, So swallow the one, That made you ill.”
Essentially, get with the program or else. Powerful. I’m not sure we want to sleep in the fire that Rage Against The Machine is trying to warn us about.
The music video directed by filmmaker Michael Moore features RATM playing in front of and taking over the New York Stock Exchange, causing trading to end early that day.
Kick out the jams and stay for the inaccurate Republican politician describing RATM. He has never heard a second of the music. Rage Against The Machine – Sleep Now In the Fire.
16. If You Talk in Your Sleep – Elvis Presley
In 1987, Mojo Nixon reminded us that “Elvis is everywhere,…in everyone….in everything (except Michael J. Fox),” and he’s still the king. “If You Talk In Your Sleep” was written for Elvis by Red West and Johnny Christopher.
The pair also wrote the Elvis hit “Always on my Mind.” In this funky shuffle from 1974, the narrator asks the subject of his “borrowed” love to keep their affair a secret from her partner.
He begs her not to speak his name while he sleeps to keep their secret just that.
17. Wake Up Little Susie – The Everly Brothers
Once upon a time, if you wanted to see a movie (or two if it’s a double feature), you’d drive to the drive-in theatre and watch the movie from the comfort of your car!
Drive-ins have had small resurgences in popularity over time: during the Covid-19 pandemic, politicians held drive-in rallies to maintain public health protocols.
“Wake Up Little Susie” is a rockabilly song telling the story of two high school-aged kids who went to the drive-in, fell asleep, and missed curfew.
This song was released in 1957 and reflects American society in the 1950s: the boy fears everyone assuming they stayed out having sex, and their good and pure reputations are now tarnished.
18. I Went To Sleep – The Beach Boys
Brian Wilson spent three years in bed following a nervous breakdown and substance abuse issues.
With this in mind, some fans of Wilson’s will over-analyze “I went to Sleep” from The Beach Boys 20/20 1(969).
“I Went To Sleep” is a short, dreamy waltz, filled with Beach Boy harmonies, about a series of average events in a day, concluding with the narrator taking a nap.
The Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens
Is somebody about to get hurt, or am I feeling nostalgic for Simba, Timon, and Pumba?
19. The Tokens – The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
Wimoweh. Wimoweh. The vocal harmony is sung almost entirely using the vowel sound “e.” A classic song that is instantly identifiable and singable after one listen.
“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is an all-time classic song about sleep. For a generation, this 1961 #1 hit for doo-wop ground The Tokens, is associated with Disney’s The Lion King movies from the 90s.
Most of us don’t know that this song was initially recorded in Zulu by Solomon Linda under “Mbube.”
After being translated into English, this song has been covered by many international artists. But you likely know The Tokens version because of its connection to The Lion King or as a trend in meme videos during the 2010s.
And you know the words, and it’s ok to sing along and look like a dork doing it!
20. Kiera – Tony Sly
One of Tony Sly’s songs wrote for his daughters. My eyes always get watery anytime I hear this song. Tony Sly – “Kiera”
Tony Sly is one of the greatest songwriters you’ve never heard about. Whether fronting skate punk band No Use For a Name or his solo albums, Tony Sly proved he was one of the best songwriters and storytellers regardless of the genre.
Tony’s songs will bring a tear to your eye and punch you with a slice of life. Tragically, Tony Sly died in 2012, leaving behind his songs as his legacy, two of which are dedicated to his daughter. “Kiera” is an acoustic lullaby sung to Tony’s little girl.
The song speaks to his love for his little girl and the pain of always being on the road. In hindsight, the lyrics “think of this as a lullaby to listen when I’m gone” are so beautifully tragic, especially considering Tony’s untimely death while on the road.
You won’t find this song on any other list about sleeping, but it deserves to be on more of them. RIP and Thank You, Tony! We all miss you and your songs more than you could have known.
21. Sleepwalkers – Brian Fallon
Sit back and think about meeting that long-lost someone who had that “same electricity humming.” Maybe you’ll meet them in the low light and take a little walk through your sleep. Brian Fallon – Sleepwalkers.
“Sleepwalkers” is one of my all-time favorite songs. Lyrically, Brian Fallon weaves magic. Fallon is one of the songwriters that never ceases to amaze me, whether in his solo efforts with The Horrible Crows or the Gaslight Anthem. “Sleepwalkers” is a song about a conversation a son has with his mother to gain a little perspective.
You see, he’s been having these visions of a girl he “must have been wild about at some long-distance point in my history.”
The narrator can’t be with her, so he’ll meet her when they walk together in their sleep. It’s songwriting perfection.
Every note, the performance, the story, and the romantic lyricism make “Sleepwalkers” one of the greatest songs of all time, and you’ve likely never heard it.
And if you have heard “Sleepwalkers,” you know this song is incredible.