Back in May, I wrote about the damaging effects stress has on the body, and the scientifically-validated power of yoga and meditation to undo them. Following close behind stress as a chronic contributor to illness is sleeplessness, which the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School links to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and shortened life expectancy. Add to all these risks the problems of poor productivity and disorganized thinking, and you’ll begin to see insomnia for the dangerous condition it is.
What to do with that anxious, overworked, overtired self? Well, again, I’d heartily recommend a yoga or meditation practice. Power naps throughout the day can boost your endurance and brainpower as well. But I’d also recommend music—music that calms the body and helps wash away the mental gunk that accumulates throughout the day. Composer Max Richter recently released an eight-hour piece of music intended to lull listeners to sleep and keep them there. His efforts are now joined by electronica superstar Moby, who has spoken frankly about the insomnia that has plagued him since the age of four.
For his own benefit, Moby began making what he describes on his website as “really really really quiet music to listen to when I do yoga or sleep or meditate or panic.” He “ended up with 4 hours of music,” he says, and “decided to give it away.” The collection consists of 11 “Long Ambient” pieces between around 20 and 30 minutes each. You can hear them all—or not, if they put you to sleep—at the Spotify playlist above, or download them at Moby’s site. (He also gives you the option to play the recordings on Apple Music, Soundcloud, Deezer and other platforms.) “It’s really quiet,” he reiterates, “no drums, no vocals, just very slow calm pretty chords and sounds and things.”
Consisting of rumbling drone notes with reverb-drenched synths floating atop, Moby’s “Long Ambient” compositions remind me of the soundscapes of Brian Eno or William Basinski, and like the work of those composers, his sleep music feels both oceanic and cinematic. Perhaps in his move a few years back from his native New York to L.A., Moby found himself musically inspired by the Pacific and the movies. (You might remember his gorgeous, dramatic soundtrack to the L.A.-set Michael Mann film Heat.) Wherever this music comes from, it’s a peaceful way to combat insomnia, stress, or panic.