I am firmly not allowed to have caffeine of any kind after 11 a.m. If I do, I will not sleep. Whenever a friend wants to meet up for coffee it either has to be before 9 or I must stick to tea.
And guess what? The rulebook always flies out the window. I always end up sipping a cappuccino at 3 p.m., sealing my sleepless fate. When my reasonable 11 p.m. bedtime comes around, I’m on my laptop, looking at real estate in Fontainebleau and eating chocolate chips out of the bag.
Instead of scrolling through my phone until dawn or challenging myself to keep my eyes closed (a strategy I came up with when I was 6 or 7), I’ve decided to test some solutions put forth by the internet and tradition alike.
Once upon a time: the science behind the bedtime story
First up: bedtime stories. We’ve harnessed the power of a great spoken tale to encourage kids to wind down for eons, so why don’t we do this more as adults? Because nobody wants to read a bedtime story to an adult. Got it.
And if you’re wondering: yes, there is some science behind a good bedtime story. Quoted on Today, Professor Nancy A. Haug says, “The mind is a thought-generating machine and sometimes that’s hard to shut down… the idea is if you become relaxed or focused
So in come the podcasts. I figured I can get close to the in-real-life bedtime story vibe with storytelling podcasts. I looked for podcasts that had really good sound quality and confident narrators. I definitely wanted to stick to fiction, and I didn’t want anything too heavy or spooky. Nothing informative either! This is purely for making my brain chill.
My podcast picks
Over the course of a few sleepless nights, I learned what I didn’t want: too many sound effects, jarring commercials (I jolted awake at the sudden change in atmosphere during a few), or anything too short. My favorites? Myths and Legends and LeVar Burton Reads.
Myths & Legends to cure restlessness
Myths and Legends focuses on fairy tales and folklore, with the tagline “Some are incredibly popular stories you think you know, but with surprising origins. Others are stories that might be new to you, but are definitely worth a listen.”
I found this podcast excellent to fall asleep to. The only downside is finding where you dozed off so you can finish the story. It really does feel like your incredibly sweet dad is reading you a bedtime story. It’s fantastic narration, and it isn’t too long. The commercials are woven in seamlessly, and it’s just an overall very pleasant and soothing podcast that brings me back to my childhood. I think the sort of fairy tale aspect really helped me calm down and drift off into a peaceful sleep too.
LeVar Burton Reads for winding down
LeVar Burton Reads is definitely different from M&L. LeVar Burton (yes, of Reading Rainbow! TBT!) hand-selects different works of short fiction to read. The genres vary widely, so you never really know what you’re going to get. I found his narration so animated and enthralling that I actively stayed awake to listen. In terms of helping me fall asleep, this didn’t hit the mark… but it did prepare me for sleep.
LBR helped my mind stop racing. The stories were so interesting that I truly focused, which helped me wind down from my day in a way M&L didn’t. I was kind of relaxed and ready to go to sleep after LBR. It was more of an active choice. I’ll definitely be listening to this one right when I climb into bed.
Do you have bedtime podcast recommendations? Share them below!