Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sleepytime music

Most nights, I have trouble sleeping. Some strange people would attribute this to overzealous caffeine consumption or general laziness throughout the day, leaving me with an unnecessary store of energy by nighttime.

While those things may be contributing factors to my sleeplessness, it's all ignoring the main problem. I just can't turn my mind off most of the time. In order for me to even dream about catching a wink of sleep, my thoughts need to wander down pathways of nonsense and absurdity, which can't happen if I'm obsessing about whatever's going on in real life.

So I usually put some music on in my headphones to fall asleep. And I've learned from experience which music always facilitates the state of mind I need to be in to achieve unconsciousness.

Firstly, it can't be music that's too quiet. If it is, my mind stupidly makes an effort to hear it, and keeps me awake. Repetitive songs tend to work better too. Think of them as mantras, chanting you to sleep.

Here are my go-to albums to put on while I lie awake for hours:

Pink Floyd - Meddle
It's my favorite Pink Floyd album and the one I've fallen asleep to more than any other. I think it's the way it starts with their hardest-rocking song ever, then segues into one of their prettiest acoustic guitar songs. Check how the wind noises are the only thing that connect the two songs:

R.E.M. - Fables Of The Reconstruction
This one works every time. It's got this weird baroque Southern gothic vibe that R.E.M. never really attempted again. Which is a shame because they could've forged an entire career out of this sound.

Benton Falls - Fighting Starlight
I talked a little about this album in another post. What I didn't mention was the incredibly potent barbiturate properties it has. It's pretty much all languid tempos, jangly guitar picking and relentless unhappiness. In waking life I'm hardly ever in the mood for that, but when I crave sleep, I crave this.

Stereolab - Switched On
Sometimes you just want to get lost in waves of pleasant sound.

Chantal Kreviazuk - Colour Moving & Still
This one song alone can get me to doze even when I don't want to. And if it doesn't work, I'm still glad I listened to it.


Wendy McMillan said...

I am so with you on Meddle and Colour Moving and Still. They work every time and never lose their beauty. I also like Enya, the soundtrack to Braveheart (which for me is the only lasting quality of that film), Enigma (Pure Moods, anyone?), and Dido.

Austin said...

I listened to that Chantal Kreviicantspellitevenwhenimtrying song, very nice.

I used to listen to music before sleep too, back when I had bad insomnia. Bob Marley sang me to sleep like some kind of high parent.

I like that you compared the songs to mantras, as that's what I was going to suggest. Not the mantras so much as the meditation. Even if you're not falling asleep, meditation is a way to rest your mind and body and you can do it lying down! It's awesome, everyone should do it!

Wendy, I love Enigma and I don't care who knows it. Of the 3 or so Dido songs, I do care who knows that I love it. Enya rocks but is almost too relaxing sometimes.

Wendy McMillan said...

I was going to say the same thing! Enya worked really well for me in high school but I think she's a little too soft to fall asleep to but still relaxable.

You should definitely get more Dido, not just for relaxing but because she's awesome. I have all her albums if you want to hear more.

Amalie said...

I'm the same way but I have a fear of being strangled by earphones while I sleep so I just yell at my mind shut up shut up over and over until I fall asleep :)

Jacob I. McMillan said...

I need to learn how to meditate. It's all about breathing, isn't it? I find if I can concentrate on breathing, it usually helps me pass out earlier. I just always forget to.

I never even thought of using Dido for sleep before. She's probably work.

Before I began to share a bed with someone else, I did used to fall asleep with a stereo turned on low. I just get afraid of involving another person in my sleep problems.