Songs (for you) if you can’t sleep

Insomnia. I’ve experienced it off and on ever since I was young, for varying reasons. As an adult, it was often a partner to stress-induced anxiety. Because that’s when you really need insomnia, when you’re already in a constant state of “tired,” right? I just struggle to turn my brain off at night sometimes.

One method that I’ve developed to help myself out is listening to a specific playlist of music. Sometimes, by playing music from my iPhone near my head, I’m able to focus on what I’m listening to instead of my thoughts and essentially lull my mind to sleep.

I use a short playlist that I rearrange every now and then depending on what songs I most want to listen to, and I never put it on shuffle. Apparently, if my mind knows exactly what order the songs are going to come on, it relaxes more–I suppose it makes sense, because there’s sort of an anticipation aspect with the shuffle mode, and anticipation has no proper place in trying to fall asleep. My brain also prefers to know that the playlist is short so that the phone won’t be on for hours throughout the night. Conservative Brain. I typically start out with a song that has words, so I start to focus on the lyrics. The songs progressively become less inhabited by a voice, as well as softer in tone and slower in tempo.

I’ve used this method often enough to keep two playlists on my phone for these nightly occasions: one playlist that contains all the songs that I’ve used for falling asleep, and another that contains a short list of the ones I’m currently preferring.

So I thought that I’d share some of my favorites, in celebration of the songs that have helped me sleep and in case anyone is in need of something like this. I know I’m not the only insomniac out there.

  1. “Twinkle” by Tori Amos, Boys for Pele
  2. “Atlas Hands” by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm
  3. “The Sun and the Moon” by Mae, The Everglow
  4. “This Place is a Shelter,” by Ólafur Arnalds, Living Room Songs 
  5. “Poland” by Ólafur Arnalds, Another Happy Day
  6. “Rosyln” by Bon Iver & St. Vincent, The Twilight Saga: New Moon 
  7. “The Houses of Healing” by Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – The Complete Recordings
  8. “You Belong to Me” (cover) by Jason Wade, Shrek
  9. “Come; Follow” by Great Awakening, Songs in Secret
  10. “The Bells” by From Indian Lakes, Acoustic EP
  11. “MLK” by U2, The Unforgettable Fire
  12. “Flótavik” by Sigur Rós, Med Sud Í Eryum Vid Spilum Endalaust
  13. “The Journey to Greyhavens” by Howard Shore,  The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – The Complete Recordings
  14. “You Are My Home” by The Sleep Design, All that is not Music is Silence
  15. “The Dirt (Alpha)” by Showbread, Nervosa
  16. “Possibility” by Lykke Li, The Twilight Saga: New Moon
  17. “All Alright” by Sigur Rós, Med Sud Í Eryum Vid Spilum Endalaust
  18. “Deora Ar Mo Chroi” by Enya, A Day Without Rain

Do you have any experience with this, or have your own songs for conjuring calmness? Let me know; I’d love to check them out.

Recently Played: Sigur Rós, Between the Trees, and Oh, Sleeper

Music, music, MUSIC, I can’t get over it!!! So I’m gonna give you a little update on what’s been runnin’ through my stereo lately…yes, I said stereo…because playing real CDs in an actual stereo is legit. At least I think so…

First stop, Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust by Sigur Rós–thanks to Ryan Stubbs (guitarist of The Glorious Unseen) for a wonderful recommendation, and thanks to Best Buy for keeping stock of a good product (we shall likely be doing business again).

Dear goodness, is this a beautiful piece of artwork. The driving rhythms and enchanting vocals of “Gobbledigook” summons you to go dance through the woods, while the crooning, soft acoustic guitar and strings of “Góðan Daginn” will have you dreaming a misty morning walk through a meadow. “All Allright,” with a quiet piano, somber brass instruments, and soothing vocals is perfect for those moments meant for staring out the window. I’ve totally used a portion of this album to help me fall asleep. If you’re an ambient rock fan, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have this album in your arsenal.

The second album was a lucky find at The Neighborhood Thrift: a signed copy of Between the Trees’ The Story and the Song. The story is that I hadn’t ever paid much attention to Between The Trees, but I knew I at least liked the song “The Way She Feels,” so I decided to take the $1.99 gamble.

And oh…my…Fender…I fell in love with this CD. Which, of course, means I got my heart broken when I found out that the band had just ended this past winter. It’s just how it goes.

Well-orchestrated electric guitars, drums, bass, and keyboard work paired with Ryan Kirkland’s extraordinary vocals that absolutely burst with emotion create a sweet album of alternative-(dare I say emo?)-pop.  The melodies of “White Lines and Red Lights,” “The Way She Feels,” “Words,” and “Darlin'” have often been caught on my vocal chords.

On a completely different note, Oh, Sleeper has been ripping me up with their most recent album Son of the Morning. If you’ve seen some chick driving a little white car, headbanging to some insane metalcore blasting out the windows, going exactly the speed limit…well…I’m probably that chick.

Son of the Morning is a solid sophomore work. Interestingly, it’s kind of like a metal version of pop–despite Micah Kinard’s gut-wrenching vocals and the breakdowns of electric guitars and pounding double bass drum shouting for you to headbang, you’ll also find yourself singing along somehow.

Standout tracks include “Son of the Morning” and “The Finisher”–two very intense depictions of God’ showdown with Satan–the circle-pit-a-licious “World Without a Sun,” and the haunting and emotional “Reveries of Flight,” a Thrice-esque piece.

Three very different genres, three noteworthy albums–hopefully I was able to catch your interest in at least one of them.

Post-hardcore fans, you’ll just have to wait until later–I bought Emery’s new CD We Do What We Want at the concert, and since it’s a newer item, I’ll be posting a separate review on that nice little shiny circle. Kay? :)

Featured artist: The Sleep Design

Anybody out there into Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You, or Sigur Ros? You may just want to head over to Come&Live!’s website for a free download of The Sleep Design’s album All That is Not Music is Silence. I picked up the download of this CD a month or so ago, and ended up playing it a lot when I was studying or just feeling in a chill mood–which is exactly what post-rock/ambient music is for.

My personal favorites of All That is Not… include “These Dreams Haunt & Capture,” “Fire, The Grave, & The Eyes of Man,” and “He Bargains Beautifully.”  And I was pretty sure that “The Sound of War” was on some epic movie’s soundtrack. I tried to figure which one it was, but eventually ended up coming to the conclusion that there isn’t a movie epic enough for that song.

So go check it out! And tell me what you think about it. :)