Music and sound are excellent resources in the quest for sleep and relaxation. Listening to sleep inducing music and sound is also one of the home sleep remedies. For as long as anyone can remember, the lullaby has been an effective tool for easing the sleep-hindering tension of even the most tense of babies and adults alike.
Nearly everyone can remember a time when our mother lulled us to dreamland by softly singing our favorite sleepy time anthems, followed by the gentle humming of the self same tune until finally even the crankiest of us were slumbering away as peaceful as can be.
There are many different types of compact discs and sound making devices on the market that can assist in the relaxation process.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Classical music CDs/tapes are a great way to unwind and put yourself in the mindset for a good night’s sleep. Brahms’s “Lullaby”, Mozart’s “Baroque Music”, and “Waltzes” by Strauss are just a few examples of some of the most relaxing classical music out there.
- Ambient Electronica (sometimes referred to as “downtempo” or “chillout”) CDs/tapes are another excellent choice for “music to snooze by”. This particular genre of electronic music eschews the pulsating beat of techno and house for non-linear progressions, soothing melodies, syncopated rhythms and gentle sound effects. Some great examples of this type of music are The Orb, Future Sound of London, Aphex Twin and Brian Eno.
- New Age/Tribal music CDs/tapes are similar in sound and composition to Ambient Electronica, but feature more organic sounds and diverse non-electronic instruments such as didgeridoos, flutes, harpsichords, chimes and bells. This type of music often uses rhythmic drumming (similar to the beats found in a tribal drum circle), chanting or throat sounds.
- Sound Effects CDs/tapes are a bit different in that they are not necessarily “music” at all. You can buy prerecorded media that has various soothing relaxation-oriented sound effects such as waterfalls, babbling brooks, wind, rain, whale songs, water drops, and other natural sounds. Recordings of other types of sounds are also available such as busy city streets, fire engines, airplanes and other noise, which are great for city dwellers who find themselves somewhere out of their element where it is just too quiet.
- Sound generating machines are common and available in a wide variety of price points. These devices are usually about the size and shape of a standard alarm clock (and occasionally come built into alarm clock/bedside radios) and usually come with a variety of preset noises that are conducive to sleep and relaxation. Some of these gadgets simply have recorded waveforms that loop continuously, but some models include features such as auto fading after a preset amount of time or the ability to set alarms that gently rouse the sleeper awake. When shopping for sleep sound noise machines, it is important to consider whether the device can play randomly synthesized sounds or can only playback recorded samples. The former, although a bit more expensive, are typically much better at inducing the sleep state rhythms than the latter, due to the fact that they mimic their natural counterpart more closely.
The effectiveness of music as a therapeutic tool in dealing with insomnia varies from individual to individual.
Depending on the patient and type of insomnia, what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. Some people will have better results with rhythm and gentle percussion, while others will respond more positively to melody or non-linear compositions.
Some will react to constant repetition, while others benefit from randomness. Even to this very day, science is exploring the potential of music and sounds effect on sleep patterns, dream states and consciousness in general.
On the ultra high tech side of things, researchers at the sleep clinic of the University of Toronto’s psychiatry department and the University Health Network’s Toronto Western Hospital are studying the ability of “brain music” — EEG recordings converted into musical compositions in a computerized process — to assist in relaxation and improvement in the overall quality of sleep.
Essentially, the researchers create custom soundtracks for each individual sleeper by studying a person’s brain waves to determine which rhythmic and tonal sound patterns create a condition conducive to sleep in each individual subject.
The data is then fed into a computer program developed by the researchers which then generates unique “meditative” music that will create those same brain wave patterns when the individual is trying to sleep later.
Studies have shown that this ―brainwave soundtrack‖ has the potential to alleviate brain conditions that result in anxiety and sleeplessness while not subjecting the patient to dangerous, potentially habit forming chemicals.