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No. 84 Insomnia: Night & Day Pzizz



"When we fall asleep, I think we gain access to a mode of the universe that otherwise is inaccessible; dream-time and dream-space are as mysterious and expansive as the cosmos, and, for me, I imagine my adventures while I sleep to be the inward version of a lifetime exploring outer space. For this piece, I attempted to supply a soundtrack to the feeling of being in the womb of the universe. Using electromagnetic readings from NASA's observations of the sun (40 days worth of data sped up to last a few minutes), the foundation of this track is the 'sound' of the sun itself. Sampling and modulating these sounds to play with certain psycho-acoustic phenomena, the sun frequencies give the listener a sense of floating, of being in the midst of vastness while simultaneously in comfortable solitude. Accompanying the sun is a range of instruments: guitars, synthesizers, mandolin, my voice, gamelan glockenspiel, and Tibetan bowls, all modulated to blend and sway like celestial winds. In concert, these sounds provide a setting for the listener to feel the sonic warmth of the sun, as well as the tonal comforts of a vast yet intimate dreamscape in the cosmos." -- Ethan Cohen (not the filmmaker), Director of Music and Sound Design at Pzizz


Sometimes my insomnia keeps me from falling asleep. Most times my insomnia wakes me after two hours and I can’t fall back to sleep. My worst moments are when I wake up and experience what feels like a wooden stake of panic driven into my solar plexus. Without a thought or immediate experience to prompt this panic, it takes over my body instantly and for no apparent reason. My breathing is shallow, my muscles are tense and it feels like drowning. The best thing for me to do is get out of bed and distract myself until I can breathe deeply again. This never happens during my waking hours, only in the middle of the night.

A nocturnal sense of impending doom.


Lately, I’ve been getting to bed earlier and reading and writing by candlelight for 1 - 2 hours before sleep. I’ve noticed a reduction in insomnia.


My sleep app exploration started with a tweet by J.K. Rowlings endorsing Pzizz after she’d tried other sleep apps. You can use it for free for 7 days and then pay $60 for a year. Pricey but so worth it. Pzizz comes with three settings and I use them every night and day.


FOCUS setting: Gives you 15 soundscapes and you can choose to stick with one or switch from one to another at whatever pace you prefer. I like to switch every 2 - 3 minutes. I use this setting almost anytime I’m working at home.


NAP setting: You can set the length of time and choose from a variety of soundscapes and narrations. I’m out cold DEEPLY for 30 - 50 minutes.


SLEEP setting: You appoint a wake-up time and choose between 38 soundscapes and 10 narrations with such titles as “To the Moon” and “Bottom of the Ocean” - I’m currently into “Cave of Dreams”. You can hear the narration in 3D as it moves from one ear to the other in a surround - a - sound style. I wasn’t sure if I would be comfortable sleeping with earbuds but it hasn’t been a problem.


The writing of the narration or guided meditation is strong, imaginative and successful. In many of the narrations, they quote poets -- Rumi, Mary Oliver . . .


One review said: “Shoutout to the Pzizz for bringing me out of a panic attack.”


Some nights I still wake up in a panic. But because of the steps I’ve taken, (In bed by sunset, reading and writing by candlelight, using Pzizz) I am sleeping deeper, better, and getting up earlier every week. Thus, the gift of more time to write before work.

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