What makes a lullaby a lullaby? It’s a curious thing, this singing to sleep of little ones and the number of people who can’t doze off without a little soothing music playing in the background. Soothing, by the way, is subjective so while I may very well feel a deep need for Native American flute gently weaving its way into my cerebral cortex to la-la land, you may be serenaded to dreams by Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen or Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. Whatever the case may be, we’re curious about these delightful ditties that have been sending us all to dreamland in one form or another since, well…
Let’s look at that for a moment. “Lulla” and “bye” were words that calmed kids way back in the day then in the 1500s, the two were put together to signify songs created specifically to get kids to sleep. We love a good Winkin, Blinkin and Nod song or a selection from Jeff’s Sleep Tapes and we wondered what some of our Dream Team looked for in sleepy time music — whether for their kids or themselves. And so it is, without further ado, that we bring you a few thoughts from a few folks including — wait for it — one of our own.
Isabelle Bridges Boesch
I was lulled to sleep by a lullaby that my dad (Jeff Bridges) sang to me and that was also sung to him as a child called “Lullaby Baby.” Now I sing it to my kids.
Amy Swift Crosby
I do remember a music box that was my grandmother’s that I would wind up and play at night, but the song itself didn’t have a name. These days, I often turn on music with 432 HZ, which is ideal healing, relaxing, regenerative music. I love falling asleep to it if I can, although there is often a child or husband in the bed as well, and they aren’t always into it. I also can fall asleep very well to Deepak Chopra’s voice (but if you’re reading this, Deepak, I also listen when I’m wide awake.) These days I almost always do a short meditative practice before falling asleep — just a blessing of the day and an intent to resolve whatever needs resolving while I’m sleeping.
Big time, right now Frank Sinatra. I believe it’s because it was always playing for my mom. She loved him. It seems so calming to me, like my mom & dad are right there with me.
Once or twice a week before my daughter's bedtime, she and I will sit on her bed and meditate (as much as you can with a 7-year-old) while listening to Rannar Sillard’s Dream Voucher album. It’s so calming and beautiful. On my own, I’ve always enjoyed listening to Manish Vyas’ album Water Down the Ganges, especially with headphones. I’ll close my eyes and let my mind go wherever it wants.
I don’t remember either one of my parents singing a lullaby but I def sing a lullaby to my son who is almost 7. He still asks for “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away…”
My mom would sing me the song from the book I’LL LOVE YOU FOREVER (to which she made up her own tune) and I sing the same song to my daughter every night before placing her in her crib.
I sing mostly Disney songs to my son. "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and "So This is Love" from Cinderella are our favorites. My mom's favorite one to sing to me was "Hush A Bye." I love listening to her voice.
Sleep Club Editors — Linda
We don’t usually come out of the woodwork and take a stance here at Sleep Club, but this was particularly meaningful as I have two kids, a niece and a nephew and a deep love of singing them all to sleep at one time or another. While I genuinely don't remember either of my parents singing me lullabies — which is so interesting because my mom was an amazing singer and my father liked to think he was — the ones I sang for my two sons — and they still love even in their 20s — are “Stay Awake” and “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins, and “Hushabye Mountain” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I, too, made up my own tune with I’LL LOVE YOU FOREVER for my sons, my niece and nephew, and would also play Jeffrey Osborne and Michael McDonald songs at nap time for my kids. Today, I personally drift off to Native American flute and classical music, Debussy and Chopin in particular.
The sweet sound of sleep
We all have our tune, the one that relaxes us, that wakes us up, that makes us feel alive. What are some of yours? How do you drift off to that land of pure rest? We’d love to know.
And, remember, no matter what you sing to your kids, your parents sang to you or you play for yourself, that special melody that takes us away is truly magical.