There seems to be something innate in human nature that causes us to respond to music even from an early age. Without being taught, a toddler will start to move rhythmically to the music that they hear on the radio. For centuries or even millennia, lullabies have been sung to babies to help them peacefully drop off to sleep.
Sound, like smell, has a very close connection to our emotions and the merest hint of a song can evoke a flood of memories and transport us to another time and place. Because of this close emotional relationship, music and sound can be very effective tools for addressing sleep problems and stress related anxiety.
Lack of sleep leaves us feeling irritable during the day, increases our stress levels and impairs our judgement. This affects our relationships at home and our performance at work; the vicious cycle continues as we become more stressed and find it hard to sleep at night.
Below are a few simple suggestions you can try at home:
There are many cheap classical music CD collections available that you can play at night-time to relax your mind. Choose pieces that feature woodwind and piano and avoid those that contain large brass sections and drums. Mozart is a common choice, particularly his Baroque music. Although the so called “Mozart Effect” has been recently criticized by other researchers, iSleepBetter.com’s team strongly recommends it as an effective method to improve your sleep quality.
Ambient music is characterized by soft synthesized sweeping chords, relaxing repetitive melodies and sound effects. Sometimes called ‘chillout’ music, there are many CDs available in the general or specialist meditation sections of music stores.
Popular choices are Brian Eno and the relatively more recent ‘The Orb’ and ‘Aphex Twin’.
New Age Music
Sometimes referred to as ‘Tribal Music’, it is similar to Ambient music but tends to synthesize eastern sounds such as Sitars, Tambouras andTablas.
The melody will often be accompanied with tribal drumming and chanting sounds. For some people, the repetitive rhythms induce a feeling of relaxation and for this reason New Age Music is often used while meditating.
Whether you yearn for the sound of the countryside or city, there is a sound effect CD out there that can immediately transport you to your destination of choice. For urbanites, you can purchase a CD that contains the sound of traffic, busy parks and people chattering in a bar. For rural types, a CD containing the sound of bird songs, whale songs, waterfalls and gentle rainfall is more appropriate.
There exists a plethora of sound machines on the market that have been shown to encourage and induce a deep relaxing sleep. The machines are small, with most being about the size of an alarm clock and the the prices vary, with the more expensive machines offering a number of additional features and customization.
The cheapest machines contain a preset number of continually looping recordings of synthesized waveforms. The more expensive models allow the user to time when the machine starts to fade in the generated sound and when to fade out. This can be set for both the night and morning so that you can gently fall asleep at night and gently wake up in the morning. The pricier models may also use recorded wave samples instead of synthesized. Wave samples are preferable as they are direct recordings of natural sounds.
Music and Sound Research
Some of the latest sleep research has looked into the possibility of converting recordings of our brain waves into music that will assist sleep. In Sleep clinics, EEG recordings are taken of patients while they are deep in sleep. Computers with specialized algorithms then convert those recordings into a sound-map that is best suited to that particular individual. The theory is that if the generated sound is played back to the individual, their brain waves will mimic the deep-sleep EEG recordings and induce a mind state that is conducive to sleep.
Research has shown that not only can these recordings help with sleep, if listened to during the day, they also can help with stress and anxiety levels. Stress and anxiety are well known causes of insomnia so tackling those problems may be all that is needed to resolve our sleep problems.
Whether you should use a machine, sound effects, music or a combination depends on each individual.
For some people, a repetitive rhythm works wonders whilst to another it is annoying and makes them feel irritated. For some, listening to music at night can help them slowly drift off to sleep, whilst to others it can be a distraction. Our members at iSleepBetter.com insist that it’s important to experiment with the different methods and music styles until you find the tunes that provide the most effective treatment for your sleeping difficulties as they proved effective on our own troubled sleep. Good Luck!
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Category: Lifestyle and Sleep