Remember listening to bedtime stories as a child? Sure, we might have also tried to use “just one more story” to fight our parents’ attempts to get us to sleep, but even the most persistent youngster couldn’t help eventually nodding off while listening to the fairy tales and adventures at some point. Now that we’re grown, we have to rely on our own methods for lulling off to sleep — something so many of us struggle with night after night. That’s what a genre of literature known as “slow lit” is hoping to solve.
Rather than reading a book yourself and getting frustrated by going over the same lines over and over again as you nod off, these stories are read to you in gentle, monotone voices accompanied by sound effects designed to soothe your mind and send you to straight to slumber. It’s apparently become such a popular and effective way to fall asleep that Calm, a highly-rated app for meditation, relaxation, and sleep, has appointed a Sleep Storyteller-in-Residence: Phoebe Smith. As a travel writer, Smith has experience falling asleep in extreme places — like while suspended over a thousand feet in the air on the Bunnet Stane rock formation in Scotland. However, she often finds it more difficult to doze off in her own bed. That’s what inspired her to use her talent for writing to help others with the same problem. “With most kinds of writing I’m trying to build the tension,” Smith explained in a blog post for Calm, “but here I’m doing the opposite. Anything exciting needs to go right at the start and then it’s all about winding people down, while also encouraging their imagination to play.”
You can listen to Smith's most popular "Sleep Story," Blue Gold, narrated by Stephen Fry, below:
Along with fiction, Smith writes non-fiction tales about her travels, such as An Australian Adventure, which is narrated by Bindi Irwin. The author also doesn’t mind if you never make it to the end of her stories — that’s the point! You can find similar sleep-inducing storytelling on other mindful apps and podcasts to see what works best for you. It might seem sort of silly to listen to bedtime stories as an adult, but whatever helps us catch all the Zzzs we need is definitely worth it.