For some, to be surrounded by total silence seems like an ideal way to fall asleep. For the rest of us, a completely quiet room after hours is like a breeding ground for every weird, troubling, eye-opening thought you’ve ever had; some kind of background audio helps calm the nerves. Is there a happy medium?
A few days ago I saw this post on Popular Science about why white noise helps people drift off and stay conked out; essentially, the combo of frequencies blocks sudden noises by masking their effect. It works for most people, but, for some, this static actually does the exact opposite by increasing their sensitivity to random sounds.
Consider that while reading this recent piece in Pacific Standard that outlined a few studies where subjects were allowed to pick their own music versus a control group who were subjected to complete silence; the evidence supporting each method was inconclusive.
This is not necessarily surprising — it’s almost impossible to imagine something that could knock everyone who listened to it out cold. But what if there was an ideal, science-backed bedtime soundtrack? Something that worked for insomniacs, fast snoozers, and everyone in between? The ULTIMATE LULLABY that performed like a sonic Vulcan nerve pinch, rendering targets comfortably comatose in moments?
There probably isn’t. Which is why we’ve all got our own pre-slumber rituals. I put on 30 Rock. Pretty much every night. I’ve seen each episode — all seven season’s worth — enough times that I don’t feel any need to pay attention (I actually reduce the screen brightness to black), and the dialogue distracts me from my own thoughts in a way that blissed-out tunes just don’t.
In light of this irrefutable evidence that all dreamers are not created equal, what is your surefire go-to for falling asleep?
Picture: Liz Lemon in 30 Rock, Season 2, Episode 14, “Sandwich Day,” courtesy NBC