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The Free Way

Jessica Hagen of HealthTunes

Every night I lay my head on my pillow to fall asleep I’m excited to explore my other life - my dreams. I’ve spoken to many people about how often they remember their dreams and have come to the realization I remember mine more often than some. I recall my psychological illusions from the night before on a daily basis at times, and sometimes every other day.

For four consecutive nights, I explored how Jeff Bridges’ Sleeping Tapes and HealthTunes’ “Sleep Ambient” playlist affected my other life. Both experiences transformed my dreamscapes but did so in very different ways. Listening to these modalities made me realize how what we do in our awake life profoundly influences what we experience in our asleep life.   


Jeff Bridges, Sleeping Tapes

Falling asleep to the soothing sound of Jeff’s deep, rhythmic voice is very pleasant and surprisingly effective. His voice acts as a texture within the music and the words, though not lyrical, give a flow to the advancement of the whirled storyline, especially with the consistently, but appropriately, changing background audio.

Sleeping Tapes frequently changes storylines and though one would think that would distract the listener, forcing an inability to fall asleep, that was not the case. The changes, (i.e., his wife coming in and out of the picture, the presence of small children audible and then fading away, the sound of changing weather even a whirring helicopter at one point) give a different dynamic throughout the progression of the tapes that functions similar to how the mind does.

The advancement acts as a type of stream of consciousness. Consciousness is never on one plane but rather strays from one point to another very quickly. Don’t get me wrong, Sleeping Tapes does not move exactly like a person’s stream of consciousness, but it’s close enough where the listener can become trapped in fluctuating viewpoints and environments.

As the Tapes progressed, I became wrapped in the bedtime stories, particularly “The Raven.” I imagined every aspect of the story, not just the words but the feeling of actually experiencing the story within my body. The feeling of thunder resonating from head to toe, of my hands on the horse's face and neck, and the nervousness existing only in my imagination. That story was the last thing I remember before I fell asleep and the story only lasted 55 seconds.  

It was impossible for me to listen to Sleeping Tapes all the way through without falling asleep, so it took me a couple of nights to finish the album. Each night I listened to it, my dreams were vivid and compelling. Jeff did not become a part of my dreams but definitely influenced them. The landscapes seemed darker and more distorted than I usually experience.

The next morning, I contemplated what was different in my dreams the night before than other nights. They had a sensuous richness to them. I felt more tension and was very aware of the decaying nature that surrounded me. It was an experience I wouldn’t mind experiencing again.


HealthTunes Dreams

Listening to HealthTunes “Sleep Ambient” playlist was more harmonious and made me feel more at ease. There were no altering thoughts going on inside my head, no moments I was lead from one place to another. A collected and well put together calming feeling resonated throughout my body.

I could feel the rhythm of the music reverberating off the barrier of my subconscious. It was comforting, soothing, and dynamic, but in a different way than I experienced with Sleeping Tapes.  

The binaural beats playing in each ear - one frequency tone in one ear and a slightly different tone in the other - brought me to a state of serene calmness. I felt tranquil and my imagination drove me to a place of bliss. Listening to each key being played on the piano took me to a seat at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I imagined a solo pianist serenely serenading the audience to sleep. Each methodical movement of the musician’s hands allowed me to drift into a state where sleeping was imminent.

The slight breaks within the song drove me into and then slightly out of a deeper sleep. I slipped into a peaceful slumber within a world of colorful landscapes. My emotions and imagination were injected into the soft blue and pink fields I roamed with music playing over my psyche’s loudspeaker beaming from the sky above me.

When I awoke, I felt just as relaxed and at ease as I did with Sleeping Tapes, but my mind was calm and my experiences were more comforting rather than intriguing. I felt as though I had been in a meditative state for hours the night before and my outlook on the day was very positive.

Allowing yourself to drift off and let your mind go wherever it wants with the outside influence of music or speech breaks the walls and barriers we set up for ourselves in everyday life. At night in our head, we can act however we want, say whatever we want, and do whatever we want. If we have these delightful vices to allow us to explore just how far our psyche can take us, why not use them and play with our dreamscapes a bit?


The Importance of Dreaming

Sigmund Freud said in The Interpretation of Dreams, “The dream shows how recollections of one’s everyday life can be worked into a structure where one person can be substituted for another, where unacknowledged feelings like envy and guilt can find expression, where ideas can be linked by verbal similarities, and where the laws of logic can be suspended.”

Our dream life is just as important as our awake life, and sometimes dreams can influence our perspective, making us either optimistic or pessimistic about daily occurrences. A dream can be so powerful that it follows you, sometimes for days. If you analyze how dreams affect you emotionally, it may help you understand how your mind works and how you can influence how you feel when you’re awake.

Both Sleeping Tapes and HealthTunes’ “Sleep Ambient” playlist expanded my imagination and the worlds my mind created in ways very different from one another but equally enjoyable. The scenes my imagination developed were enchanting, one in a darker Salvador Dali kind of way and the other as though I was strolling through a Claude Monet painting.   

No matter what you decide to listen to before bed, include different audio experiences in your sleep routine. Explore sounds before you fall asleep to test the influence they can have on how potent your dreams can be. You may be astonished to see what your subconscious can build.

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