Do you remember how you slept as a kid? You probably don’t because once your head hit the pillow you were out like a light. It turns out that running 300 laps around the playground, coupled with not having to worry about paying the bills, cleared the way to an awesome night of sleep. No matter where you happened to be laying…
Like this kid falling asleep in a shoe store..
Or this one falling asleep on a rubber boot outside.
Unfortunately for us adults, it is no longer that way. If you’re like me at all then you probably plop into bed, read some pages of a book, put on your sleep mask, and then lay your head down. Then, you proceed to recall and second guess every interaction that happened that day. Once those are all covered you then think about the endless possibilities of the things that could go wrong tomorrow. Needless to say, there is no shortage of things to ruminate on when trying to fall asleep. So you lay there and just pray your body shuts down at some point and hopefully off to dreamland you go.
After years of this, I realized that there must be a better way. I searched online for methods or practices that would be helpful in avoiding this dooming spiral of thoughts. I came across breathing techniques, counting sheep techniques, herbal teas, and so on. The one thing that caught my attention was sleep meditations, and more specifically sleep stories.
A sleep story, or bedtime story, is a recording that is meant to help the listener fall asleep. The purpose of a sleep story is to calm and soothe the listener so that they can fall asleep – sort of like a bedtime story when you were a kid. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some sleep stories have a storyline and read like a book while others are just a random, nonsensical tale that helps your mind wander off.
As described in this NY Times article, the narrator plays a big role. Some narrators feature a delicate, airy tone of voice while others have a low, rumbling tone. Some whisper their stories. Some scream their stories…just kidding, I’ve never actually heard of a sleep story where someone was screaming it.
There is a wide variety of sleep stories out there and with that comes a wide variety of narrators. Everyone has their own preference for both story and narrator. For example, I love deep, rumbling narrators with a story that features some sort of journey. It took me a little while before I was convinced of sleep stories, and their life-changing power. I encourage you to sample as many as possible before you throw out the notion that sleep stories just aren’t for you.
The magical power of sleep stories lies within their ability to redirect your mind to something calming and peaceful instead of a one-track loop of your life’s blunders. I’ve noticed an easier transition into dreams when I listen to a sleep story before bed. It’s not uncommon for me to fall asleep in the middle of a story and wake up at some point hours later not knowing if I was dreaming the story or not. Sometimes I will fall asleep right at the beginning and barely hear a word of the story. Other times I won’t fall asleep at all. Either way it’s a win-win because it beats laying in bed mindlessly wondering if I did have something stuck in my teeth during that meeting earlier today.