Musical pillows – are they singing you to sleep?

Looks like an angel but is she actually listening to swedish death metal?

A good friend has a sleep problem: Her husband! I should explain. It’s not her husband per se, but his habit of listening to the radio as he falls asleep. It’s a tricky conundrum: listening to the radio has been part of his bedtime routine for years, but my sleepy friend simply can’t get used to it.

Occasionally, my other half and I encounter a similar problem. Almost every night we’ll go to bed together. And almost every night we’ll spend maybe 10 – 30 minutes reading and listening to music in bed before going to sleep. It’s a nice little routine we’ve formulated – and it’s all as a result of this blog, so I’m taking all the credit for it! Every now and then, though, one of us wants to stay up later to read/listen to music, and in doing so prevents, or at least hinders, the other’s decent into dreamy sleep.

There may be a solution. Lately, I’ve been hearing more and more about musical pillows – basically, pillows with an integrated speaker and headphone jack for plugging into your iPod or radio – that play your music just for you. So, you can drift off to sleep listening to your favourite tracks through your pillow, without disturbing your bed-mate. It’s a clever idea, although I’m not sure if I’m prepared to give up my super-soft silk pillow….

If you’ve got a musical pillow, I’d love to hear your thoughts – do you like it? Does it help you to fall asleep? Is it comfortable?

My perfect bedtime playlist

I’ve been converted to Classic FM. Over the last few weeks the radio station has been doing a splendid job of sending me off to sleep with its gentle, soothing sounds. Plus, I’ve realised that I can combine two of my favourite pastimes – reading and listening to music – before I go to sleep. I’m now actively looking forward to the end of the day so that I can go to bed and enjoy some relaxation-time before dozing off…..does that make me a little bit sad, I wonder? Probably more than a little bit sad, actually.

Whilst I have a new, unexpected, love of Classic FM (at bedtime anyway), I can’t help but wonder what my perfect bedtime playlist would consist of.  It requires some careful consideration, but as a starting point, the following songs spring to mind – it’s almost as if they were made for drifting off to sleep:

♫  Cold Water Music – Aim

♫  The Killing Moon – Nouvelle Vague

♫  Tonight – Lykke Li

♫  Here’s Looking At You, Kid – The Gaslight Anthem

♫  Tap At My Window – Laura Marling

♫  Playground Love – Air

♫  Asleep On A Sunbeam – Belle & Sebastian

♫  Do You Realize?? – The Flaming Lips

Let me know what you think. Don’t be shy, tell me who sings you to sleep at night.

Sleep tip: Listen to music at bedtime for a restful night’s sleep

When I was 16 and taking my GCSE exams, I’d listen to the same three U2 songs, from their album The Joshua Tree, the night before each of my exams. Just 10 minutes of music helped me to wind down after an evening of frantic cramming.

“Listen to calming music before bed” is an often repeated sleep tip because it can help you to relax, leading to better quality sleep. In a 2005 study in Taiwan, researchers proved that listening to about 45 minutes of relaxing music before bedtime can improve your sleep. According to the BBC news website, the study participants who listened to music before sleep reported “a 35% improvement in their sleep, including better and longer night-time sleep and less dysfunction during the day”. For the full BBC news article, click here.

Since my teens, music hasn’t really featured in my bedtime routine. Unless you count falling asleep in a taxi on the way home from a bar or club, that is. Well, that is all about to change. I’ve bought myself a very stylish little radio for the bedroom (any excuse for a bit of shopping!) and last night – for the very first time ever – tuned into Classic FM.

I’ve never really listened to classical music before. I’ve always thought it was for posh people and intellectuals, privately educated, harp-playing sorts; not for people like me who went to a rubbish Comprehensive School and learned to play the recorder, very badly, in a room that smelled faintly of sick. Last night I discovered classical music. I learned that it can be tranquil and soothing; you can get lost in it, if that doesn’t sound too clichéd. Apart from the occasional chatter disrupting the music, I found my introduction to Classic FM enjoyable and very relaxing. It really helped me to settle down to sleep.

Now for something very clichéd: Last night, I also learned that you don’t have to be a certain “type” to like or dislike or appreciate something, so why restrict yourself?

I really should stop writing now before I start spouting nonsense about the meaning of life, but before I go, here – a la Jerry Springer – is my final thought:

To keep a happy relationship happy, discuss your bedtime routine with your bed-mate before making any changes that might affect them – listening to half an hour of Classic FM in bed might send them crazy rather than to sleep. And we all know that a grumpy partner does not make for a restful night’s sleep….