Así es, aquí les dejo un artículo que leí en WIRED.COM, justo ahora estoy escuchando unos samples que publican en la página de uno de estos programas, y les puedo decir que es es muy relaajaaanteeeee aahhh ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz
Can Software Help You Sleep? We Test Three Snooze Aids
It's midday, and I'm lying on my bed with the curtains drawn. I'm listening to my iPod. Ambient sounds drift by in my headphones -- wind noises, droning bells, a distant shakuhachi. Chirping birds overlap with soothing synth arpeggios.
I breathe out and relax my shoulders. I feel good, happy.
"Allow yourself the deep pleasure of relaxation," a voice intones gently. "When you notice pleasant feelings inside, imagine them spreading all over your body."
People have long used soothing music or calming sounds to reduce brain activity and help them relax. But now, many are turning to specialized software and other technological means to quiet the conscious mind, making it easier to take a timeout.
The program I'm trying is called pzizz. It has "modules" designed for specific sleep goals, from a refreshing afternoon nap to deep nighttime slumber. The software creates personalized audio files from a combination of ambient soundscapes, spoken instructions and sub-aural sound effects.
Sara Mednick, a sleep researcher at the Salk Institute and the author of Take a Nap, Change Your Life, says there's no hard science proving that pzizz and programs like it actually improve sleep. But the promise of a planned, computer-controlled, 30-minute nap to refresh the system is alluring to the modern psyche.
"Our society optimizes everything -- we now eat PowerBars instead of full meals. It's all part of a desire to make our lives more efficient," Mednick says.
I rarely have problems sleeping, but napping doesn't come naturally to me. I tested pzizz and two other programs like it over the course of a month, using them to take naps and to fall asleep at night. My results varied from program to program, but I did find napping easier with pzizz than without.
All of these use a technique called binaural beat generation. Two slightly varying tone frequencies are played simultaneously, one in each ear. The out-of-sync peaks of the sound waves produce a pulse below the range of human hearing. Even though the pulse is inaudible, the effect is said by proponents to calm brain activity and quiet the mind.
SBaGen wraps these beats in white noise -- the sound of a babbling brook. The looped audio wasn't that intriguing, and it didn't help me nap. On top of that, the command-line interface was a pain to use.
Gnaural has a Java implementation that runs in the browser, so it's easy to set up. But as with SBaGen, Gnaural didn't slow my brain down and I didn't feel more relaxed after an hour under headphones.
I found pzizz's combination of ambient music and nature sounds more engrossing. The soundtrack was dreamed up by pzizz inventor Matthew Ashenden and created by his record producer friend Paul O'Duffy, both based in London. The voice encouraging me to relax was that of Michael Breen, an expert in a persuasion technique called neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP. It's these humanizing elements -- emotionally stirring strings and twittering birds -- that give pzizz its edge.
Ashenden says we often need help "switching off" our brains when we actually need sleep, and that's where his creation comes in handy. He says he's received "loads" of feedback from pzizz users about how the product has changed their lives. Pzizz has roughly 25,000 users in more than 70 countries around the world.
Subjectively, I had to admit the software seemed to work. But what would a scientist say? I decided to run my results past Dr. William C. Dement, chief of the division of sleep medicine at Stanford Medical School, who quickly threw some cold water on the idea.
"I'm pretty skeptical," Dement says. "Over the years, there have been tapes and things that encourage napping, and I don't think there's anything that has a special sleep-inducing quality."
He added that you can't force somebody to take a nap. Humans only sleep when their bodies need it. Still, he wouldn't rule out the efficacy of software completely, noting we need more academic research to be sure.
If nothing else, pzizz puts an enjoyable music-programming tool at your disposal. You can adjust the length of each session and the levels of each audio element to your own liking. Personally, I found Breen's voice too intrusive for sleeping but perfect for a 30-minute nap, especially since he wakes you up at the end of the nap with words of encouragement ("It's time to get going and rejoin the day!").
After you've set the parameters to your liking, pzizz generates a set of unique audio files you can burn to a CD or put on your iPod. Even though every file is different, the first minute or so is always exactly the same: The nap sessions start with a distinctive echoing chime, and the sleep sessions begin with a descending melodic figure played by vibraphone and a string section.
These so-called anchors help condition the mind and put us in the mood to sleep, asserts pzizz's Ashenden.
Although skeptical of software makers' claims, the Salk Institute's Mednick agrees that specific cues have a big effect on our ability to fall asleep.
"What we do right before sleep -- brushing our teeth, taking off our clothes, turning out the light, getting under the covers -- those things don't mean nothing, they mean very specific things to our brains," she says. "Playing a familiar soundtrack during that routine can act as a trigger. It's almost like a 'bell' that rings to make you fall asleep."
I tested this Pavlovian effect myself. For years, I've used an hour-long recording of bamboo rainsticks as a sleep aid, playing it at a level that's barely audible around bedtime. When I played the recording on a night off from testing pzizz, I fell asleep as easily and gently as I did using my customized MP3s.