Over my many years as a career sleeper, I have, of course, considered the conditions under which the best sleep is to be had. I was not only intrigued by which music was more conducive to my sleep but to others’ (as I had a college dorm mate who took afternoon naps to very loud Iron Maiden). I would wonder if it’s not the musical content but the associative behavior with said musical content. Say perhaps, with my friend from college, if his only way of tuning out the noise of a loud family atmosphere was with something louder naturally his relaxed state would crave the louder music.
For most people a relaxed state is aided with soft, slow sounds or music. That being said, my favorite music to sleep to isn’t music at all but different forms of white, pink, or purple noise. Otherwise, I rely on my Environment records. These are a series of records released by Syntonic Research, Inc. in the late 1970’s. They advertise the use of “psychoacoustic sound” to lull you into sleep or a similar meditative state. The collection includes a wood-masted sailboat, alpine blizzard, ultimate thunderstorm, and optimum aviary among others; but, one of my favorites is a computer synthesized tintinnabulation. Quoting the back of the record jacket “, The Environments concept is far broader than the mere simulation of natural sounds. The effect of sound on our abilities and thought processes is a little understood, mysterious phenomenon. As an illustration of the possibilities currently under examination, SR [Syntonic Research, Inc.] decided to experiment with bell sounds as an environmental sound source.”
Recently musician and composer Max Richter has created an eight-hour piece called, appropriately enough, “Sleep”. I novel idea for those of us who awake many times in the course of a night’s sleep. Here’s more about Richter and the best music to put you to sleep.