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Music Monday November 18th, Lullabies for Insomniacs

When I was a kid I used to stuff books in between my mattress and boxspring. Thin books that I could read by the glow of my virgin mary nightlight (hello catholic upbringing) after I was tucked in, because even as a child I could never seem to get to sleep at a structured bedtime. It just didn’t feel natural to go to bed that early. As I got older I began to hate morning classes and early shifts, never feeling quite like I was supposed to be alert at that hour. Eventually I just accepted that I was a natural night owl. I took jobs that allowed me to sleep in and if I somehow got stuck with an early shift I would just stay up all night and go to it, it seemed to work better for me that way. I do my best work in the middle of the night, when most of word is asleep is when my favorite writing usually happens. Somewhere between 2 and 4 am there is that magical witching hour that I love.

Occasionally my 2-10am usual sleeping schedule goes completely off the rails when my jerkface friend insomnia drops by. Since I was about 8, every once in a while I will not be able to sleep for a few days. I’ll lay there looking at my ceiling and and toss & turn and eventually think of every awful conversation I’ve ever had. This will go on for a couple days where I’ll get 2 hours of sleep every night and then I’ll go back to normal. It’s just my rhythm, but it’s still annoying. I’ve tried most home remedies : Melatonin, hot tea, lavender baths, the home shopping channel, but none of them seem to work as well as my trusty sleep playlist.

I made it years ago before a long road trip. In addition to my wonky sleep schedule I also like to be totally high maintenance about sounds when I sleep and prefer to have a fan blowing white noise at all times. I draw the line at lugging a fan in and out of a hotel every night though, so I made a playlist for myself to have something to fall asleep to. I called it ‘Shhhhhhhh’ and I’ve listened to it so many times that my brain associates it with sleep now. Sometimes when I’m going through a rough few days with sleeping (i.e. right now), I’ll put it on and 9 times out of 10 will be asleep in a few songs, they’re my grown up lullabies.

The first song I’d like to share from my playlist is called ‘We move lightly’ by Dustin O’Halloran. He is an incredible pianist and composer that has written the score for several ballets and movies, plus released several highly acclaimed studio albums. All of his work is light and airy and winds me right down. I highly recommend checking out his immense and beautiful body of work if you like what you hear.  The second is called ‘Last night I heard everything in slow motion’ by Oliver Tank and it’s moody and full of harmonious strings. The third is by the often underrated Explosions in the sky. Yes yes, I know instrumental music is not everyones cup of tea, but let me assure you that you won’t miss lyrics at all. While this sounds totally clichéd, they make what feelings sound like. I listen to them often when writing or reading and they comprise a large part of my sleep playlist. They’re currently on tour with Nine Inch Nails and they manage to produce an incredible ambience at live shows; get your butt to their show if you have the chance.

It sadly gets dark outside at 5pm now and you’d think that this perpetual darkness would make it easier to sleep, but it doesn’t seem to be the case for me. Just in case you’re in the same boat as me, I hope my sharing of a few songs from my best-loved playlist helps you catch a few z’s. So hit play and if you like what you hear, get your hands on a few of these albums to help you along the next time there’s a pea under your mattress keeping you awake. As for me, I’m off to have a bath filled with lavender and then hopefully catching up on some sleep.

Goodnight y’all, enjoy.

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