When it comes to music, saying that a song “put you to sleep” isn’t usually a compliment. But for composer Max Richter, it’s one of the highest forms of praise his music can get. The British musician has just released an eight hour piece of classical music specifically designed to help listeners fall asleep.
The piece, called Sleep, is a soft work that features strings and piano, as well as some vocals that aren’t quite enough to distract the listener. In an interview with NPR, Richter explained the inspiration for the composition.
“Sleeping and being asleep is one of my favorite activities,” Richter told Morning Edition. “Really, what I wanted to do is provide a landscape or a musical place where people could fall asleep.”
The idea of classical music lulling us off to sleep is founded in actual science, with studies showing that the low key instrumentals can actually help improve our quality of sleep. Listening to his earlier work, Dream, it’s easy to see how the subtle, beautiful tune can bring about some quality zzzs. Richter describes the piece as an “eight-hour lullaby,” and a chance to slow down and create an environment to help us rest. It’s also hauntingly gorgeous, which makes it a pleasure to listen to whether you’re awake or dreaming.
Last night, Richter streamed the album for free as part of his “One Album, One World, One Sleep” event. Listeners were able to listen to the whole 8-hour piece, although chances are they didn’t get far before slipping into some great sleep. Today, they were encouraged to use the hashtag #OneWorldSleep to share their “experiences, dreams, and thoughts,” making sleeping while listening to the composition an awesomely communal experience.
Sleep goes on sale today, and to learn more visit Richter’s website. And you can check out Dream right here. But beware, it might have you slipping into sleep at your desk!
You can also learn more about Richter’s work in this video by Yulia Mahr.