The Ultimate Night Shift Playlist To Power Through Any Job

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Music just soothes the soul, doesn’t it? Listening to sweet tunes during, before and after a night shift quickly normalizes everything, putting you in the right headspace for whatever is next. Music has the power to boost our mood, concentration, and overall productivity, even when working the 3rd shift. But what types of songs should you include in your playlist to help with alertness and to beat any feelings of sleepiness throughout the shift?

The best night shift playlist consists of different types/genres of songs. Wake up to beats that boost your mood, work to music that increases productivity like ambient soundtracks, nature music or video game tunes. Post shift, calming music with classical tones will increase sleep quality.

There are many studies that have proven that music can affect your mood both positively and negatively. That is why it is very important that you understand the difference between music that can increase productivity and songs that can decrease productivity.

Keep reading below for inspiration on your music selection. We will discuss music to wake up to, work to, and wind down to. We will also touch on music that could be bad for your mentality and productivity.

Waking Up After Night Shift

One of the worst things about getting our day started is the process of waking up. Let us face it, chances are we more than likely did not get enough sleep for us to wake up in a jolly mood! (Here are a few tips for getting more of it!)

Sticky sleep is probably caking your eyes, and instant regret may seep into your mind as soon as your eyes open. Especially when you hear the nagging ringing of your alarm clock buzzing in your ear. Who can expect someone to make it a great day when the start of their day begins with a phone screaming at them in a horrid fashion.

So, you’re probably thinking – if my alarm clock is one of my problems with waking up, what can I do to make some changes?

A traditional alarm clock does not have to be the route that you take for waking yourself up. There have been several studies done to show that the noise you wake up to has a direct impact on your mood for the day. More specifically, a study conducted by researchers from Australia; “found that certain alarm noises can decrease morning grogginess, so you wake up faster and feeling more alert.” (source)

So basically, that iPhone or Android built-in alarm clock that we all have become so heavily reliant on – could be playing a big role in the grogginess that all of us night shifters feel frequently when waking up. Until I made a number of changes in my lifestyle, I was waking daily feeling groggy. It was like the grogginess takes over and there is nothing I can do to combat it.

Luckily, there are multiple studies out there that provide us with alternative sounds to wake up to in order to put ourselves in a more positive frame of mind.

Now keep in mind that your personal music taste will play as a factor in music that could be better for you when waking up. However, studies have shown that when you wake up to a song that is more melody-based – chances are you will experience less time feeling overwhelming grogginess over waking up to beeping alarms that are not melody-based.

There are three things that you need to consider when picking your “wake-up” music

1.) Is it going to give you enough of a boost to pry you out of bed?

2.) Is it overall positive?

3.) Is the beat strong enough?

With those three things in mind, we’ve listed some songs that come highly recommended to boost moods when used as an alarm clock. Keep in mind that you are more than welcome to put in the work to do more research if none of these songs fall within your style or test level range.

  • Wake Me UpAvicii
  • Viva La Vida – Coldplay (shown below)
  • Walking on Sunshine –  Katrina and the Waves (also shown below)
  • Wake Up – Arcade Fire
  • Lovely Day – Bill Withers

When Working Night Shift

Finally, with all the forces within us – we have gotten ourselves out of bed, in our car, and with any luck made it to work on time. The issue is that sometimes our lagging state which we were in at home, can follow us to work.

Now fingers crossed you felt great when you arrived at the workplace, but then you may be ambushed out of nowhere with a sense of grogginess, sleepiness, and lack of productivity that hits you like a ton of bricks.

Once we are hit by this, it can be difficult to find our way back to where we are being productive. One way of combating this is to listen to music during your shift that has been scientifically proven to increase productivity and fight against brain fog (a constant problem for us night workers).

In a research study conducted by Dr. Lesiuk while employed by the University of Miami, it was determined that those who listen to music while completing tasks have found that they complete tasks more quickly and efficiently than those who did not listen to music (source).

Keep in mind that the type of music that you listen to can have either a positive or negative effect on your productivity. So, consider the types of tunes that you are selecting when you are creating your nightly playlists. We will go over both ends of the spectrum, the types of music that increase productivity, and the type of music that decreases productivity.

Distracting Night Shift Music

Let’s start with the music that can be more distracting, so we can immediately steer clear of them when selecting our playlist.

Really, when selecting music there are certain components of music that you want to stay away from.

  1. For starters, you need to stay away from music whose cords are too complex. This type of music can be highly distracting when you are trying to be productive.
  2. Don’t choose music that is going to make you think about it, because it defeats the purpose of it just acting as background noise.
  3. You also want to stay away from music that is lyrically inclined. When music has lyrics, especially if it is a song that is catchy and popular, we often find ourselves paying more attention to the lyrics than we do on our task at hand. Because, who can resist singing along to a catchy tune?

Now, don’t get discouraged, because there is a lot of music out there that can one hundred percent assist you with your productivity. Scientists that have conducted research have shown “that music can help relieve negative emotions like stress, anxiety, and depression” (source). 

Below we list music that has been proven to increase productivity while on shift or completing tasks that require you to remain focused. The music that will be listed will be types and genres rather than song suggestions. That way you are able to select songs based on your own taste levels because everyone is not the same.

  • Classical Music
  • Nature Music
  • Epic Music
  • Video Game Music
  • Ambient Music Soundtracks

Personally, I listen to Spotify playlists such as;

  • Deep focus
  • Sirius XR Chill
  • Brain Food
  • Beats to think to

Post Night Shift Music

You made it! It may have been a struggle, but your night is over – you have successfully made it through your shift with minimal damage done. Look at you, being a rockstar.

Now, your post night shift music is just as important as the music you wake up to, and the music that you listen to while being productive. It is very important that after your shift that you take some time to decompress from the workday you just endured. What is the best way to do provide yourself this self-care? If you said listening to music, you’ve guessed right!

Chances are after your shift you are going to feel a level of stress radiating off of you that rolls over from your shift, so it’s best that you decompress that off with some music.

Researchers have made it possible for us to scientifically reduce stress after a shift by pinpointing certain types of music for you to gravitate towards.

When it comes to therapeutic relief, studies have shown that music from certain backgrounds like Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed instruments, drums and flutes have a more calming effect than other genres and types of music.

However, this type of music is not everyone’s cup of tea. So, if it is not something that you enjoy, and increases your stress or irritation – steer clear of that type of music, and listen to something that you personally know is going to relax you.

Now, after you make it home and are preparing for bed – there are some studies that show you what music you should fall asleep to when you are longing for a peaceful night of sleep. In a study shown by researchers for MedicineNet, the music that we should be listening to when falling asleep is Classical music.

“Scientists have found that listening to classical music at bedtime helped improve sleep quality in young adults with sleep problems”


Who is another group of individuals who also experience sleep problems? That’s right – night shifters. (Especially those with sleep apnea!) So, something you could try doing is introducing classical music to your playlist when you are trying to fall asleep. Below we list some classical music that has been highly recommended to improve your sleep quality.

  • Moonlight Sonata mvt. 1 (Sentimental Piano)
  • Ava Marie (Healing Piano)
  • Hungarian Dances
  • Piano Etudes (Classical Piano)
  • Claire de Lune (With Nature Sounds)

This post has a bunch of video and music links for you to listen to.

Music Accessories

When it comes to music, there are so many ways of listening to it. However, most of us choose to use our cell phones as the primary source. There are so many apps available on our phones that allow you to listen to music whenever you feel like it.

The Apple and Android stores both play home to a host of music streaming services such as Spotify, iTunes Music, Youtube, Youtube Music, Soundcloud. There really is no going wrong when you are picking your music streaming platform – it really is just based on your personal preferences. Each of the streaming services typically offers a free version and a paid version which allows more access or the removal of advertising. So, there is something for all budgets.

There are also so many accessories out there to keep in mind that can aid in your music listening experience. Below is a list of popular items you could look to purchase.

As you can tell, music really can play a pivotal role in our mood. It also has the power to both increase and decrease your productivity. Working the night shift can take a huge toll on us both mentally and physically. That is why it is always great to have an ‘escape’ from the hustle and bustle of our jobs and outside forces.

Overall, it is really important that you choose music throughout the day that screams YOU! Music that you are not accustomed to, or that irritates you can only make matters worse. Your playlist has so much power over you, it puts you in certain mind-frames – some for the better and some for the worst.

Spend a little time organizing your favorite beats and watch yourself enjoy the nightly hours more than you have before.

Now, whilst playing music might be great in the workplace to boost morale, here are 15 other ways we can boost employee engagement.



Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

Daniel Smith

Managing a global sales team I've experienced the challenges of working at all hours of the day and night. Being a shift worker I know how tough it can be balancing everyday life when you feel like you haven't slept in weeks! Providing advice and tips on how to manage your schedule, whilst still staying healthy is where I can help.

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