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Trouble Sleeping? This Music Could Be the Cure


Max Richter offers a "an eight-hour lullaby" with his new album, SLEEP.

British composer Max Richter dedicated about two years writing and recording an album he expects few people will listen to completely. It is one of the longest pieces in the history of classical music, which he describes as an “eight-hour lullaby”, and which he appropriately named SLEEP.

SLEEP is designed with a noble intention: helping people sleep soundly Richter says he doesn’t expect people to sit and listen to the full piece. Rather, his piece is made to experiment in different states of consciousness. While he was working on the piece, he consulted neuroscientist David Eagleman to learn about the brain’s functions while we sleep. After all, we spend decades of our lives sleeping, and having a “musical place” of where to go is a good gift.

Sleeping is one of my favorite activities. I’m also keenly aware that I’m very fortunate I’m able to get a good night’s sleep. Many people are not. What I wanted to do was sort of provide a landscape or a musical place where people could actually fall asleep.

The full piece was presented for the first time in Berlin this September, during a concert that began at midnight and ended at 8 a.m. The audience was lying down in beds, in a sort of massive pajama party set to live classical music.

In a fast-paced world, sleeping well has become one of the most sought-after actions, and now it’s more valuable than ever. In fact, Benjamin Franklin left us with a guide on “The Art of Procuring Pleasant Dreams”, and now Max Richter gives us the musical place to visit in our dreams. Quite a noble pairing.

In this video, we can hear a sample of the comforting tranquilizer, and the eight-hour digital version can be obtained via Deutsche Grammophon.


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