Raise your hand if you have a baby or toddler who makes bedtime a living hell. If you’re at my house on any given evening, you will find me on the verge of tears as I try everything from hushing to reading to singing to rocking to pleading to bribing to get my children to go to sleep. It’s a long process and possibly the reason why I am prematurely graying. And I am not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, toddlers and preschool-aged kids need 11 to 13 hours of sleep a night. But getting them there? Pfft…good luck, mama.
Putting kids to sleep is one of the hardest parts of the day-to-day grind of parenthood. A lot of this has to do with the insane pressure we feel to make sure our kids get the rest they need in order to support their growing bodies and developing brains. But who am I kidding? We really want our kids to go the fuck to sleep so that we can get some downtime, amirite?
Neuroscientists and researchers from Mindlab International, Marconi Union, and the British Academy of Sound Therapy worked together in collaboration to intentionally create the world’s most relaxing song. The result was a song called “Weightless,” which was produced and released in 2011. Researchers didn’t stop at one song, however — they created a playlist of what they claim are the world’s more snooze-inducing tunes and it can be found here.
So what does this mean for parents? Well, with the low-pitch ambient sounds and the thumping heartbeat lulling in the background, “Weightless” has an extremely good chance of putting your tot to sleep.
But does it work? I gave this song a listen and came to a few conclusions. First, it sounds a little like that ’90s Gregorian chant song, “Enigma,” remember that? I’m pretty sure half my high school population tried smoking pot the first time after that song came out. Second, it is boring AF, which is kind of the point if the aim is to relax someone — like a kid — to the point of falling asleep. Third, I am literally starting to yawn — this is a good sign.
Next up, my kids. We queued up the song on YouTube, dimmed the lights, and everyone was tucked in. The kids were babbling and laughing and clearly in no mood to be hypnotically lulled into unconsciousness, but if science says it will work then I’m willing to try.
The song is around eight minutes in length and borrows heavily from nature using low sounds at a snail’s tempo. After reminding my kids to be really quiet and listen hard for the sounds of heartbeats and the wind, they too were soon yawning. All signs were pointing to sleep. Hell yeah, science!
The video is a bit soporific to look at too, and honestly, I’m not sure if I can stay awake long enough to actually watch the whole thing. The camera shot stays focused on a mystical lake while what looks like a pigeon Patronus on acid flutters around the screen in slow motion. No child can stay awake long enough to watch this. At least, that’s the hope.
If these claims to guarantee that your child will drift off to sleep sound familiar, that’s because they are. Every few months, some expert comes out with a snake oil cure all to get kids everywhere to fall down sleeping. Remember that bestselling, and perhaps kind of creepy, book that claimed to put even the most difficult kids to sleep? Mmm, hmm, I remember it too. I also remember that it didn’t work.
So, how did my kids fare? Well, after about 20 minutes of not being allowed to talk or get out of bed and being forced to listen to this incredibly dull song, they did actually go to sleep. Did I really need a song to accomplish boredom? How much of that is due to the whiz-bang elements of science and how much was due to sheer boredom are up for debate. Science is great at a lot of things, don’t get me wrong, but putting kids to sleep may ultimately prove to be a swing and a miss. Tired kids evade science, just like they evade their bedtime.
Desperate times call for desperate measures though. I’ll try anything. So will you.