According to the CDC, more than 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders. It’s no secret that I need more sleep these days. If that sounds like you, let’s try a popular remedy we haven’t used since we were kids. Adults are bringing back bedtime stories.
Dozens of podcasts, such as Sleep Cove, and online video channels, including Soothing Pod’s YouTube channel, offer soothing voices softly narrating detailed stories. but It’s not necessary to get lost in the details. It is only their purpose to lull you to sleep
These are not the same bedtime stories of our youth, though. They’re designed for grown-up minds, so they tend to be longer, more descriptive, meandering, and without the moral arc often found in kids’s books. And everyone from Cynthia Erivo and Mathew McConaughey to Idris Elba and Harry Styles are lending their legendary voices to these calming tales on meditation apps like Calm.
According to National Geographic, one genre of these bedtime stories stands apart for adults: Travel narratives. Nearly a third of Calm’s 300 bedtime stories (which have been listened to more than 450 million times) are about travel—particularly adventure travel. And 45% of the bedtime stories on the app Breethe (which has been downloaded more than 10 million times) are travel-related.
Why? What makes these stories so dream-inducing? One possible reason why our brains are soothed by travel bedtime stories are “mirror neurons,” a neurologist at Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep tells National Geographic. These brain cells might conflate our own experiences with someone else’s. The comforting sense of something familiar and romanticized can help with relaxation and sleep—especially in hushed tones surrounded by gentle sounds.
There is also the possibility that the removal of light and noise from the external world allows our imagination to take over. The tradition of nighttime storytelling dates back thousands of years. My Bluetooth-enabled smart alarm clock even allows me to call up a sleep story via Siri before bed, rather than streaming another show.
Sleeping well and going to bed early might be the best self-care you can do. “