"For the placebo group, the improvement was only about 15 percent as compared to 75 to 85 percent for the experimental group. So it's a highly significant statistical difference," Kayumov says. It also shows that brain music is highly individualistic.
It worked, he adds, because the sleep music was lower in frequency than other brain waves and induced kind of a relaxed, meditative condition. In other words, each subject's brain recognized its own lullaby and reacted accordingly.
The "music" was so different from other brain waves that the researchers are now experimenting with creating sound tracks that will help curb such things as bed wetting among children.
Even far more serious mental problems might be helped by similar techniques, he says.
"Even the diseased brain has such enormous reserves that we can use the brain activity, even from a diseased brain, to heal it," he says. An anti-anxiety response, for example, can be produced even in someone who is seriously impaired by reproducing sounds that stimulate relaxation.
Relaxation in a CD
A research sample of 10 persons is not a large group, but the project builds on numerous other related studies at the clinic, and Kayumov believes the results are quite convincing. The long-range goal, he says, is to move the technology from the research lab to the clinic.
Hopefully, some day people with serious sleep disorders will be able to check into a clinic and leave an hour or so later with a compact disc, loaded with sounds that originated in their own brains. Those sounds will be used to generate brain waves that induce relaxation, leading to sleep.
And here's the neat part. It won't become addictive. There won't be any serious side effects, like those caused by various medications that are now available.
All it will be is music, created in the person's own brain. How about that for a relaxing tune?
Lee Dye’s column appears weekly on ABCNEWS.com. A former science writer for the Los Angeles Times, he now lives in Juneau, Alaska.