Muji–the wonderfully minimalistic Japanese design company with its oh-so-charming products–has released a new app. Called Muji to Sleep, it’s an ambient sound app for iPhone that features six different soundscapes (waves, birds, fire, stream, waterfall, and forest), each tailored to help you gently nod off into slumber. It’s cute, and better yet, it’s free.
Tasked by my editor to review the app, though, I realized I had a problem. I don’t have trouble falling asleep. A lover of afternoon naps and Sundays sleeping in, I drift off with the facility of a narcoleptic on Nyquil. Simply put, I was the wrong man for the job.
But I love a good challenge, so the other night, while my wife was out of town, I drank a Chemex full of coffee at around 9 p.m., then chased it down with half a bottle of the cheapest bourbon in my liquor cabinet. (Please don’t tell her.) Soon, I was a herky-jerky marionette of hyperactive drunkenness. Stumbling to bed in a mist of alcohol and adrenaline, I loaded up the app, and tried to Muji myself to sleep.
Here are my notes.
Waves–When you already feel as if you’re pitching upon the surface of a literal tsunami of cheap bourbon, the sound of waves only accentuates the effect. The surf pounding in my ears, I suddenly felt myself in a perfect storm of drunkenness, as I pushed the Andrea Gail of my insobriety up a tidal wave of indescribable nausea. If I hadn’t changed the channel, I’d have had to use a bilge pump on the bed.
Birds–The twittering of birds made for a more peaceful respite. Focusing on the distant tintinnabulation of one individual avian warbler, I found my stomach calming and my head clearing. But only for a moment. A bird-owner myself, my two parakeets heard the digital trilling of a Muji flock from the other room; being idiots, they then decided it was morning. “Cheap! Screech! Squawk!” they screamed in the dark, ringing bells and flapping around madly in their cage. To prevent myself from murdering them, I had no choice but to switch to the next setting.
Fire–I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t something deeply peaceful about falling asleep to the sound of crackling twigs and immolating logs. But the drunken mind plays tricks on itself. As I drifted off, I suddenly became aware that, after the night I just had, the vapor coming off my skin must be at least 80 proof. With a shriek, I heaved myself upright, convinced that the nearby fire could turn me into a living Molotov cocktail. Fire bad.
Muji to Sleep’s other soundscapes weren’t exactly kind to the drunken mind either. The crickets buzzing in the back of the forest soundscape made me convinced that the sheer volume of caffeine I had ingested had given me tinnitus, while both the mountain stream and waterfall simply brought about an urgent need to stumble to the bathroom and urinate.
Nursing a hangover two days later, it’s hard to recommend this app to anyone who has poured more than a few drinks down the hatch before bedtime. But if you teetotal, or even just drink like a person in full control of your mental faculties, your mileage may well vary. And for your sake, I hope it does.