Is a Good Night’s Sleep as Easy as a Bedtime Story?

This childhood bedtime staple could be your go-to for sleeping through the night.

bedtime stories for adults

photography by PHUONG NGUYEN


Nights of tossing and turning and restless sleep could be a thing of the past with an age-old technique you relied on a child—bedtime stories. But gone are the tales of Curious George and Green Eggs and Ham, and in their place are apps and podcasts with non-fictional stories of lavender fields and Machu Picchu.

If this seems odd (or childish), let Param Dedhia, Director of Sleep Medicine at Canyon Ranch, explain why this could solve all your sleep issues (while you go grab your blankie—no judgement).

“In the realm of rituals and soothings before bed, the concept or wording of a 'bedtime story' seemingly has been reserved for children. Yet there is so much to say about the opportunity to sooth the mind and heart before bed. Our daytimes are full, if not overflowing, and this does not lend itself to rest, restoration or sleep at night… Although one size rarely fits all, the power of story can bring someone into the present moment. If the stories assist with this, it can be so helpful.”

Sleep has gone 21st century with apps like Calm, with their non-fiction and fictional ‘Sleep Stories’ spoken in soft, soothing voices, sometimes by famous voices like Stephen Fry and The Bachelor’s Nick Viall. Why, yes, The Bachelor can read you the tale of Sleeping Beauty to place you into a sleeping trance. Each story can last about 30 minutes long.

“We recently created Sleep Stories in the Calm app, which is bedtime stories for grownups,” says Calm co-founder Michael Acton-Smith. “They have been incredibly popular as there is something very comforting and relaxing about being read a soothing story while tucked up in bed. To make them even more effective, we decided to create a scent to pair with the story.  Spraying lavender on your pillow while listening to a story set in the lavender fields of Provence is a very effective way to calm a racing mind and help you drift off naturally. The scent and sound combination transports you to another part of the world which is enjoyable and deeply relaxing.”

Podcasts have entered the sleeping realm as well, with shows like Sleep With Me, who jokingly say they are a "lulling, droning, boring bedtime story to distract your racing mind.” In the one-to-two hour podcasts, each episode is a labyrinth of a tale that soothes you into sleep.

“Such stories can allow the mind to move away from the push and pull of the stress of their lives into being in the present moment with less judgement,” says Dedhia. “We may understand the key concepts but that does not mean that we do them. Taken further, “To know but not to do… is yet to know.” What I see in the last part of this statement is that there are details that are yet to be known or if known, they need to looked at again and again to make them a part of our lives. Rituals like a bedtime story could allow for the time and space of us to practice that which is of help and of health.”

Get more sleeping tips:
How Changing Your Dinner Strategy Can Give You Better Sleep
Sleeping Tips From New Moms That Non-Moms Can Use, Too
This Is How Meditation Gurus Sleep Like Babies

Published on October 03, 2017 - 4:00pm EDT

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