When you think of sleep, the word association is automatically lullabies. The lullaby has existed since ancient times and is a soothing song played or sung to young children to help them sleep. Lullabies are used to pass down cultural knowledge or tradition. Lullabies also tell stories, especially in India where the baby Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu the protector of the universe in Vedic traditions, is the quintessential target of the song. Lullabies help to develop communication skills, describe emotions and capture the undivided attention of babies and kids.

The most important uses of lullabies is as a sleep aid for children. So the music is often simple and repetitive. Lullabies tend to be paired with the rocking of the child in a cradle. This is repeated in the rhythmic swinging beat of the music. The image of the cradle—in reality or in the gestures–during the singing of lullabies, helps the infant and the viewer of music and dance performances to associate the songs with falling asleep and waking up.

In classical Indian music the lullaby is an important feature of both music recitals and dance performances. Folk music has a great deal of lullabies in its repertoire as well. The soothing effect of music on the foetus has been talked about in the classical literature (story of Abhimanyu in Mahabharata) and has been re-discovered by modern day scientists and medical research. All the great Bhakthi singers and poets like Surdas, Kabir, Meera, Tulsi, Bharathi, Purandaradasa, the Carnatic trinity have written beautifully tuned and evocative lullabies. Lord Rama and Krishna have been the characters on whom the most emotional and soothing lullabies have been written.


In Indian music certain ragas have been identified for curing sleeping disorders by working on the nervous system of patients. For instance Neelambari, according to the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (1998), has sleep promoting qualities. Most lullabies in south Indian classical music are based on this raga. Mohana raga cures headaches and induces sleep in the process.

The following is a lullaby from an Indian movie…it is sung by the son on his mother’s death anniversary. He was alienated from his father because he wanted to take up music as a profession. He leaves home and comes back years later and sings…if somebody would sing a song, a lullaby, I would just drop off to sleep.

So, for people with sleep disorders, soothing music especially lullabies are Rx-ed!!


The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Ashok, gaelikaa, Maxi, Rummuser, Shackman and The Old Fossil. We have a new blogger Lin at Dun-Na-Sead to the LBC.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
This entry was posted in Friday Three On One blog, Heritage, Life skills, Poetry, Society, Spirituality, Wellness and health and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to SLEEP

  1. Rummuser says:

    Fantastic collection! Great post Padmum. Get back to LBC every Friday. You write so well.


  2. shackman says:

    I couldn’t agree more – nothing soothes like music.


  3. Even as grown ups we still do have our own lullabies. Even as I am reading your article I am listening to music and that’s always how doze off to sleep. Works twice as much in babies and kids


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