The term “sleep music” refers to any sort of relaxing sound (usually containing the sleeper’s own voice) designed to induce sleep in a sleeping person. In most cases, sleep music is used for therapeutic or relaxation purposes and is not used recreationally. However, it can be very soothing to listen to at night. The main reason for this is that it is recorded through a CD player or earphones and is played during normal waking hours.

The sleep music industry has been booming, as more people are discovering its usefulness. According to one sleep research center in New Jersey, more than half of their clients ask for it. A survey of sleep center customers found that over two-thirds of them had listened to some form of sleep music in the past while they were sleeping. Among these customers, Basinski and Middleton say they know of no one who has not found it to be helpful.

“A good friend of mine had problems getting to sleep in the mornings,” says Middleton. “He tried everything from drinking chamomile tea to taking sleeping pills. His last resort was listening to a sleep music CD.”

Of course, not everyone agrees with the use of sleep music therapy. Many would argue that such relaxation is inappropriate in the middle of a work day. “I’m not an expert on how to meditate,” admits Basinski. “But I do know what it’s like to lose sleep during the day.” He continues, “I used to have terrible headaches at night. Because I couldn’t get to sleep, my morning headaches were much worse.”

According to Basinski, relaxation techniques like those he used to employ while working – listening to white noise such as a CD – have more to do with allowing the brain to focus on soothing sounds rather than on the sounds of melodic white noise. White noise has been shown to reduce stress, enhance creativity and induce a deeper level of relaxation. “Singing in your sleep is just like having a soothing CD playing in the background when you go to sleep,” he continues. “White noise CDs doesn’t need you to move out of bed. They only need you to lie there and allow the CD to carry out its function – providing soothing sounds of a byproduct of its creative software.”

This may help explain why sleep music seems to work so well for Rachael Ray, a famous daytime talk show host and best selling author. “I tend to zone out of my own world during my day – and that’s a good thing,” she said in a recent interview. “I don’t feel like my life is going anywhere. When I do listen to some sleep music, it wakes me up, gets me excited about the things I am going to be doing the next day.” Indeed, there are studies showing that the brain can rewire itself by being exposed to nature sounds for extended periods during the day.

Music is also a powerful mood lifter and sleep therapist according to sleep therapist Dr. Michael Basinski of Sleep Rocks, a San Francisco, California based company that sells a range of relaxation music. “We use music for everything from listening to calming CD’s during the day, to playing calming tape when going to sleep at night,” he says. “A lot of our clients have seen dramatic improvement in their sleep problems through the use of our soothing and binaural audio tracks.”

There are several ways to get more sleep. The trick is to find what makes you sleep better and then expose yourself to that for an adequate amount of time. Using CDs with nature sounds for just an hour or two at night is a great way to improve your sleep, especially if you are trying to fall asleep faster. Most people will find that exposing themselves to nature for longer periods of time will allow them to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer, allowing them to enjoy the rest of their day instead of feeling run down and exhausted when they wake up.