When you lay down to go to sleep, where does your mind go? Do your thoughts go blank, inviting the deliciously sweet relief of a good night's rest? Or does your brain suddenly switch into overdrive, producing an endless stream of unnecessary and random thoughts that you can hardly keep up with? If the latter sounds a bit more like you, Tom Middleton's Sleep Better album might be the one thing that finally helps you shut down for the night so you can get the rest you deserve.
Now, before you roll your eyes and assume this is just another BS sleep remedy that doesn't actually work, let me just say that I've had the Sleep Better album playing softly in the background as I've been writing this article, and even though I'm currently on cup number three of my morning coffee, my eyelids feel heavier than the overpacked suitcase I got charged extra for on my spring break vacation. And yes, I am saying that this music is literally stronger than coffee — it's that good.
In case you have no idea who the heck Tom Middleton is, he's a British record producer based in the UK, but the dude wears way more hats than that. If you go to his website, you'll see he's also a sound architect, a psychoacoustic sound designer, an electronic neoclassical composer, and most recently, a trained sleep science coach. I won't pretend to know what all of those titles mean exactly, but let's just say Middleton knows what he's doing when it comes to the science of music that helps you sleep.
Middleton dropped his Sleep Better album on Mar. 16 — aka World Sleep Day — and the songs are described as "soundscapes to help enhance sleep quality."
BBC Newsbeat reports that Middleton was initially inspired to dive into the world of sleep science after struggling with bouts of insomnia. He told the outlet,
Through my years of touring I've suffered from insomnia myself. You could start at four or five in the morning, play a two or three-hour set and then there might be an after party.
I felt I could bring my electronic music and chill out projects, re-think what I was already doing intuitively, and then use science to create soundscapes that actually relax you.
Honestly, is it just me, or does the word "soundscapes" in and of itself already make you feel more relaxed?
Well, if it doesn't, the tracks on Middleton's Sleep Better album are sure to do the trick. Each song is titled with a different element of nature and/or the universe — "Sunset," "Ocean," "Moon," "Stars," "Space," you get the picture — and every track seamlessly bleeds into the next, with instrumentals that are "designed to slow down the listener's heart and respiration rates, as well as lower blood pressure," according to BBC Newsbeat. Upon listening to the album myself, the best way I can describe it is the music you might expect to hear if you were floating through space, à la Sandra Bullock in the movie, Gravity.
What makes Middleton's sleep album truly unique is his dedication to creating sounds that are scientifically designed to help your mind and body relax.
According to the album's press release, the British DJ "consulted with multiple experts, studies and the most up-to-date research" to help him develop these songs.
Middleton told BBC Newsbeat,
The stuff that's on the market at the moment has never really been scientifically tested - it's not based on real science. I thought it would be really interesting to actually look at what research has been done, what sounds have been known to be effective and what noises have been tested.
Then I added that to the intuition I'd developed of playing at chill-out festivals and clubs over all these years.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the best songs to help you fall asleep typically have a slower rhythm, with about 60 to 80 beats per minute. I put Middleton's Sleep Better songs to the test by plugging each one into the website songbpm.com, which counts the beats per minute of any song for you. Lo and behold, just about every track falls into that sweet-spot range.
Middleton's songs apparently work so well that they've had to "add a disclaimer [to the album] - 'don't listen to this while driving, operating machinery or submerged under water'," he told BBC Newsbeat.
Bottom line: Middleton knows what he's doing. You can find his Sleep Better album on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, and Apple Music. In honor of World Sleep Day, give his tracks a listen and see how you feel — but maybe wait until after your traffic-ridden commute home, OK?