Meet the Nottingham Man Who Makes Music to Sleep To

Interview: Elizabeth O’Riordan
Monday 14 May 2018
reading time: min, words

Had trouble nodding off recentleh? Alistair Webster, founder of GMB record label has created some tunes to help your lot get forty winks and help with your concentration...


What inspired you to create ‘send me to sleep?’
I was reading a book by a guy called Nick Littlehales, founder of Sports Sleep Coach. He goes into a team’s hotel rooms, arranges every little detail and even brings in their own mattresses, so they can sleep better. Reading that book really made me realise how important sleep is in so many ways.

Do you have a musical background?
I play the acoustic guitar and have been in bands in the past. This project was more for my personal enjoyment. Recently, I’ve really started to enjoy making music that has a purpose behind it, and that can motivate the listener in some way. I’m enjoying mixing a bit of psychology in there and looking into how science can be integrated into music.

You investigated sleep studies to create the song…
There’s hundreds of studies that show the benefits of sleep long-term; if you don’t sleep properly it affects your immune system, weight and mental wellbeing. It’s also linked to depression and forgetfulness. Equally on a short-term basis, studies have shown that even a night’s sleep deprivation can impair you in a similar way to being drunk.

How did you apply that to the music?
I used the different studies as starting points for the music. Music between 60-80 bpm (beats per minute) is best for helping with sleep, because it slows down the nervous system. I was also reading that bass frequencies and consistent noises like a whirring fan are great for dampening louder noises. The research suggested the song needed to be dreamy and enjoyable to listen to, but not so enjoyable that it would keep you awake.

What kind of instruments and sounds did you include?
I used a hand-held synthesiser. Quite a lot of samples in there, natural and organic sounds, even breathing. The iPhone app Auxy also has some nice natural sounds and is really convenient for working on projects on the move.

You’re also the co-founder of GBM Music. Could you explain the concept behind the record label?
The idea is that It’s background music made to have on whilst you’re doing something else. So obviously there’s the sleep song, then one that’s designed to guide you through a run, another to help you concentrate, or read.

How might a song designed to help someone run and a song to help someone sleep differ?
A lot of it’s gonna be the rhythm of it, different bpms. it’s quite a delicate balance of putting in the right emotional pushes and building to achieve certain effects. The running song, for example has a lot more energy and urgency to it.

Do you have any theories about why so many people find sleeping difficult?
I think technology is playing a massive role in that. I learned that the invention of the lightbulb actually had a massive effect on people’s sleeping patterns, because there’s the option to stay awake as long as we want now. Mobile phones are also a huge distraction. A sleep therapist would tell you to turn your phone off and leave it outside your room at night, because just knowing it’s there and could go off can unconsciously affect your sleep.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to Left Lion readers?
Even if it’s just half an hour extra, it’s really important to get more sleep if you want to be at your best. Go to sleep a little earlier if you can. Even better, get up a little later and enjoy a lie in!

GMB website

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