Can’t get no sleep. I hear you. We’ve all been there. And it’s a pretty painful thing.Because no matter how much you think you can get by on little or no sleep, the truth is you can’t.
Sleep deprivation can lead to all kinds of misery – from instant effects like irritability, headaches and stress to more long-term consequences like depression, obesity and even heart disease. No matter what age you are, you need a certain amount of sleep.
So how can you ensure a better night’s sleep? Well, lullabies worked when we were little – and there’s no reason they can’t as adults. They don’t need to be songs you’d never listen to during your waking hours either. They can actually be songs you enjoy. And whether it’s the sultry tones of Adia Victoria or the haunting tremors of Jeff Buckley, the music you play at nighttime can put to you sleep. In a good way.
So throw away that tape of whale moans that your gran bought you, stick on your headphones and let me recommend some grown-up lullabies.
by Marconi Union
A few years ago, neuroscientists in the UK decided to ‘science the shit’ out of ways to help people relax. They determined that the most relaxing song ever, and one that we should listen to in times of stress, was Weightless – a tune by UK ambient music outfit Marconi Union.
Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, reported at the time: “The song contains a sustaining rhythm that starts at 60 beats per minute and gradually slows to around 50.”
Cooper went on to explain that this induces a physical process known as ‘entrainment’ – nope, not entertainment, entrainment – whereby the heartbeat of the listener slows to match the beat of the song. And with a reduction in heartbeat comes a reduction in blood pressure… and an increased likeliness to sleep. Phew.
2. The Sounds of Silence
by Simon and Garfunkel
Ok, ok. His hair may have been a nightmare to control. But the harmonies that Art Garfunkel produced, together with his pal at the time Paul Simon, was nothing short of angelic.
Released in 1967, The Sounds of Silence feels totally familiar from those opening chords. It somehow brings you right back to nostalgia town – even if you were only born in the 90s – and instantly relaxes you. Like a hug from a loved one, this song should be welcomed with open arms.
3. The Koln Concert
by Keith Jarrett
An hour and eleven minutes of pure, unparallelled beauty. That’s what this piece has in store for you. Because it’s more than a simple song; it’s a masterpiece. For starters, Jarrett’s entire performance at that concert in Germany was improvised. What’s more, the organisers had put the wrong piano in place and Jarrett went on to play a piece he’d never played before – and never would again – on an instrument he was completely unfamiliar with.
Ironically enough, Jarrett arrived in Koln sleep-deprived himself. He was going to cancel for this reason (and for the piano screw-up) but decided to press on at the last moment. And, luckily for music fans, the resulting piece he performed was recorded.
Its soaring, haunting melodies will move you, give you goosebumps and send you into a place of sheer tranquility. You probably won’t sleep during your first listen – you’ll be too mesmerised – but it should definitely feature on your sleepytime playlist, if only to calm an overworked mind.
4. Higher Love
by James Vincent McMorrow
A hauntingly beautiful falsetto cover by a very talented Irishman. McMorrow’s soaring, sweet vocals present a familiar song in an entirely new way and it’s the perfect way to wind down into Sleepytown.
However, you’ll probably find yourself screeching it again in your shower the following morning – so apologies in advance to your partner/cat/neighbour who’s forced to listen!
5. A Thousand Kisses Deep
by Leonard Cohen
The dreamweaver, word master and poet himself – who else could craft a better lullaby? Co-writer Sharon Robinson provides the sweet harmonies to Cohen’s silken timbre for a duet that’s made in heaven.
Another treat lies in a live recording of the song simply spoken aloud, when all that can be heard is Cohen’s voice allowing the words to trickle among an enraptured audience. It’s quite literally the stuff that dreams are made of.
If the other tracks on my list haven’t worked then stick on this 90s dance anthem. Let Maxy Jazz’s smooth vocals and tribute to sleeplessness remind you that you’re not alone! Embrace the insomnia – momentarily, of course – and get your rocks on for a dance. You never know, it might tire you out…
That’s it from me so get downloading, get listening and get yo’ sleep on. Nighty night.