SLEEP: 8-hour musical composition promotes good sleep

The audience for SLEEP are in beds so they can sleep restfully during the eight-hour performance.

The audience for SLEEP are in beds so they can sleep restfully during the eight-hour performance. This performance was for BBC Radio 3. Photo by Mike Terry

If you’re like many Americans, one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get more sleep – more hours of sleep and more restful sleep.

The Centers for Disease Control promotes the importance of sleep to public health. The lack of sleep is linked to health issues from diabetes to depression and also is connected to motor vehicle crashes and workplace errors.

Composer Max Richter has the music to help you keep that resolution to get sleep with his musical composition SLEEP.

SLEEP is his eight-hour composition that is created to help the listener sleep. The performance is with strings, piano and electronic music.

I learned about his composition from an interview with him on National Public Radio prior to the composition’s first performance last fall. I was interested in the special arrangement for the audience during the performance.

“We basically will play in the round, so the band is in the middle, and ringed around it are four or five hundred beds,” Richter said.

SLEEP - CD coverThe CD box set, on the Deutsche Grammophon label, consists of eight CDs and a 20-page booklet. The 30 movements include Dream 1, Moth-like Stars, and Constellation 1. You also can purchase the one-hour abridged version.

In an interview with Time, Richter said SLEEP is his “personal lullaby for a frenetic world. A manifesto for a slower pace of existence.”

You can listen to excerpts on

I find the music to be restful – with a new age type approach.

And I wouldn’t suggest playing it while driving.

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