'SLEEP BETTER' WITH TOM MIDDLETON'S LATEST ALBUM
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The BBC's Victoria Derbyshire Show covered Tom's work with YOTEL and his research into Sound therapy. See the full segment here:
I’ve been very fortunate in my career to travel the world and to play to millions of people. Throughout my time as a music producer and DJ, I’ve been able to observe how my music affects people, both emotionally and physiologically. About ten years ago, I discovered an interest in the science behind how sound affects people psychologically and behaviorally; I wanted to explore the ways I could utilise my research to create something meaningful and therapeutic for my listeners. In the last year, I’ve also trained as a certified Sleep Science Coach to accelerate my understanding of how and why we sleep and how I can help improve people’s sleep quality and duration with bedtime soundscapes.
I started working with YOTEL in 2011, hired as the global Sound Architect to curate and design the audiosensory guest experience. My role ranged from curating hotel playlists and custom music cues for marketing videos to Djing at launch events. In 2015, I was asked to help create the soundtrack for the launch of their new SmartBed™. Floyd Hayes created a genius video campaign in which people were yawning in slow motion; the results were really effective! Yawns are always so contagious, we managed to capture that drowsiness effect on camera. I explored ways in which we could enhance this drowsiness effect with sound design and music. Although the campaign was initially there to promote the SmartBed™, it sparked my curiosity about the quality of sleep within a hotel environment. From there I wanted to delve deeper into ways we could enhance the sound and sleep experience for YOTEL’s guests.
For our bodies to be in a peak condition and our minds to be focused and clear, we need a good night’s sleep. If our sleep isn’t of great quality, then our lifestyle is going to be significantly compromised. It’s as simple as that! We now know that poor sleep can lead to a multitude of chronic illnesses so it’s something people really need to be aware of. I came across some research that investigated the economic cost of sleep deprivation and the results were pretty serious. For the UK, the annual economic cost is $54 billion a year. This is due to the various knock-on effects of lack of sleep such as loss of productivity and illnesses induced by sleep deprivation. I wanted to do something to help tackle this.
Through implementing the latest research into psychoacoustics, sound therapy and sleep hygiene, I created my Sleep Better album for people to listen to in the hour before they go to sleep. By encouraging listeners to start ‘switching-off’ one hour earlier than usual and start practising better sleep hygiene, their quality of sleep can drastically improve. The electronics and devices we are all surrounded by are affecting our sleep cycles in a really negative way. We are in a state of constant hyper-arousal right until we try to close our eyes. The blue light emissions from screens also suppress essential melatonin sleep hormone secretion, making it harder for us to fall asleep.
What’s funny is that I’ve basically transitioned from being a DJ, keeping people up and dancing all night, to a socially responsible music producer who helps you get a better night’s sleep. That’s part of the nature of my work with YOTEL; we want to revamp the way you sleep.
As the sound architect and playlist designer for YOTEL, it’s my responsibility to make sure that when guests arrive, they feel welcomed. I get to create YOTEL’s ‘voice’ and there’s so much to work with because their hotels have such cultural and geographical diversity. It’s been one of the most rewarding briefs and partnerships because I’m bringing my imagination and creativity to build a unique and memorable soundtrack to a guest’s entire stay. Helping differentiate YOTEL from all the competition is essential to my philosophy. To be YOTEL’s sound architect is the best gig in the world!
It’s important for me to consider how the hotel is being used to deliver the best experience possible for our guests. What’s the first thing they see? What’s the first element of the YOTEL brand they encounter? The journey up in the lifts is a great place to start! You’ve got about 30 seconds to engage with people and it’s a lovely space to have fun with. In YOTEL New York, we like to play tracks from Broadway musicals to celebrate the location being so close to Times Square, mixed with 60’s and 70’s TV and Film themes. My favourite thing to hear from a guest is, ‘I came out of the lift and I’ve been humming that tune all day’. My favourite YOTEL Elevator Anthem is the Pinball Song by The Pointer Sisters.
Check out some of the Tom’s YOTEL playlists that capture the spirit of the brand and guest audio sensory experience.
When settling down for their night’s sleep, the guest is not only affected by their individual behaviours but the environment that they’re in. What’s great about YOTEL is that there’s mood lighting and ambience built straight into the cabin walls; you can tailor the lighting to a particular colour or vibrancy that relaxes you. The tools are there for you to create your own personalised sleep cabin! YOTEL created some great in-cabin relaxation guides in partnership with MindFresh which teach you some simple meditation and yoga techniques. We thought it was important to incorporate elements of mindfulness into the cabins themselves.
I want to take my knowledge of how sound affects behaviour to the next level. My next step as a sound architect is to see how I can take this experience and apply it to an entire daily routine - particularly in the context of the guest experience at YOTEL. I’m looking forward to continuing my work with YOTEL on brand new innovations to enhance the audiosensory guest experience.
In the meantime, my Sleep Better album is available to stream and download now, along with an app version that includes a chromatherapy sunset orange-red light simulation. Give it a go and treat yourself to an amazing night’s sleep!