Calm for sleep
I was recently introduced to sleep stories. Not that I have a problem sleeping; as an early riser with avid exercise habits I am definitely ready to grab 7 hours of blissful slumber by the end of the day. However, my partner isn’t so lucky. Despite working ridiculously hard every day both in his work and home life, he sleeps fitfully and is often up before the crack of dawn.
Then he found sleep stories. And believe it or not, they actually work! Being someone who avoids fads like the plague, I was sceptical at first. However, despite trying not to believe, and doing my very best to concentrate on the story, I was happily comatose within about 5 minutes. So how do they work? And is there any science behind them?
How Do Sleep Stories Work?
The experts highlight a three-step equation to explain how sleep stories are an effective aid to sleep: Journey+description=distraction. This surprised me as I felt that the effectiveness of sleep stories must have something to do with the narrator’s calming voice, or the story being, quite frankly boring. Not so. Although typically in sleep stories the narrator neither shouts nor hurriedly reads through the text, the narrator’s voice is not the key issue. This actually makes sense as a voice that may seem calming to one individual may seem grating to another. So how do journey, description and distraction promote a calm and peaceful sleep?
Sleep Stories For Adults
A journey offers a different narrative than the one present in the person’s mind. The cares of the day, tasks for tomorrow, or mental and emotional worries can grind round and round in the mind, preventing it from resting enough for sleep to come. A journey takes you away from this and points you in a different direction. Descriptive words keep you there, immersing you as your mind travels, and the whole experience distracts your mind enough to concentrate on more peaceful and calm thoughts.
Sleep Stories For Children
This process prompted me to think about children. Previous blogs have discussed at length the cognitive benefits of reading to children. However, when we consider what sleep stories do, we cannot underestimate the benefits of reading to our children.
With the plethora of new things children learn in early life, their brains are hard at work for most of the time building schemata to organise new information. This process can be hard to switch off at bedtime. However, when we read to our children, we direct their thoughts onto a journey that we choose, creating a tranquil environment which continues to support a deeper, restful sleep. And let’s face it, who doesn’t want that for their child, and by extension for ourselves? A day started with both parent and child rejuvenated by a good night’s sleep is something to treasure.