I’m a sucker for Sleep Stories

For most of us, having a story read aloud to us is something last experienced in childhood. It’s a wonderfully bonding experience between parent and child, helping a child wind down from the day and prepare for sleep. Later, once the child becomes able to read independently, this practice tends to cease. It’s all part of the growing up process.

But it doesn’t need to stop. Having a story read to you at bedtime – hell, at any time – is a wonderful experience. Did any of you watch Dawson’s Creek? Yes, yes – it’s my secret shame 😀 For those who did, I just knew it was the real thing when Pacey spent time every day reading aloud to Joey.

I came to sleep stories via my decision to develop a daily meditation practice. I didn’t feel the need to meditate, but believed it to be inauthentic of me to eulogise about its therapeutic properties as a life coach, without doing it myself. I’ll admit to having trepidations, as all previous attempts had resulted in my suffering from constant itches, getting the fidgets, and being distracted by my busy thoughts. Even when a friend “led” me in meditating, I’d struggled to keep thoughts at bay, but the benefits of those who practice it regularly are so keenly felt, I knew it was time to take it seriously.

I decided to forego reading in bed in order to meditate, as that seemed like a time of limited external distraction. With the intention of turning my practice into a habit, I tried one of the many apps on the market and quickly developed a 7-10 minute daily, guided meditation practice. I’ve been doing it for 3 years now, and although I didn’t start the practice to aid sleep – for sleep isn’t generally a problem for me – the app was where I found sleep stories.

Prior to knee surgery, I was in sufficient levels of pain to prevent sleep, and painkillers simply weren’t cutting it – so I sought distraction from my sleepless state, and naturally turned to books. While they helped to fill my wakeful hours, what helped me to sleep were the sleep stories.

The stories are read in such a way as to ease you into sleepiness. Sometimes it would take multiple stories, but to my delight, I was able to get some periods of sleep as a result. Even though I no longer need the sleep stories, I still listen to a sleep story every night after my mindfulness meditation practice (if I’m still awake that is).

They have become such a key part of my night-time routine, that on the brief occasions when I have no access to wi-fi, I now listen to Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegon tales, which are the perfect back-up plan.

What do you think of the idea of an adult having stories read to them aloud? Do you have trouble sleeping – if so, what methods do you use to alleviate it?

23 thoughts on “I’m a sucker for Sleep Stories

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  1. I don’t like stories being read aloud…I don’t really listen to many podcasts or audio books. I can’t focus on the story. If I have trouble falling asleep, like I did often this month, I read until my eyes literally shut.

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  2. I loved reading to my child, and I love reading to elementary school classes as a volunteer librarian, but I much prefer to read books myself than to have them read to me. I’ll listen to audio books or podcasts if I’m stuck in the car, but nothing beats settling into a comfy chair with a great book.

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  3. I usually read in bed, in order to turn my brain off enough to allow me to rest. Then – and this is going to sound corny, but it works for me – I spend my last waking moments counting my blessings, practicing gratitude for all the good things in my life.


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  4. I’m with LA. I don’t like stories read to me, not a fan of Audible. I prefer to read books. I play games on my phone to lull me into sleep. Silly games like Candy Crush Soda Saga. They allow me to turn off my mind, and suddenly I’m sleepy.

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  5. I love audiobooks, and I know spend more time listening to books than reading them. I never thought that would be true for me (former English teacher and school librarian). I don’t like to learn through my ears, but I’ve come to love having a book to listen to when I’m driving, cooking, or cleaning house. It gives me a reason to look forward to mundane things that need to be done. When I can’t listen is when I’m sleepy and just sitting–because I’ll fall asleep and miss the story! (I have no trouble going to sleep. I have more trouble staying awake. Unless it’s 2:00 AM, of course.)

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  6. I’ll join the anti-having stories read out loud crowd. I’ve never listened to an audiobook in my life; I prefer to stay in control of my reading rather than relying on somebody else, who might enunciate a certain word differently or emphasize one thing while I’d have focused on the other.

    Also, I’m one of those annoying people who never, ever has trouble sleeping.

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  7. I don’t listen to audio books (Stephen Fry reading the Harry Potter series being the sole example where this doesn’t happen) as I drift off to sleep, I also tend to find myself wandering off when listening to a podcast – mentally, and sometimes even physically – unless I’m fully engaged (which is rare). That’s why these stories work well for me, as I can drift off as they read in sonorous tones, they also slow down and get quieter & quieter. Most nights I drop off within the first few sentences but, when my mind is racing, they do help.

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  8. I like sitting in my comfy chair with my reading light, preferably with a cup of tea to hand. Reading and listening are two very different experiences for me, and listening generally causes me to drift off – why is why these work so well for me, I guess. I loved reading to my daughter and now enjoy reading to my granddaughter. Just the best thing 🙂

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  9. Not corny at all Deb, I think it sounds like the perfect bedtime routine. I used to read in bed too – in those days of happily selfish singlehood, but even my Kindle keeps Himself awake, hence my switch.

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  10. Ha ha Jane, I know just what you mean. I can’t say that I’m always successful – far from it in fact – but it is the most successful I’ve ever been. I use Calm, but I’ve also tried Breeze and found it similar.

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  11. I prefer to read books too Ally, but if I read, I’ll stay awake for hours & hours & hours… Listening to stuff tends to make me drift off nicely, especially if I’m tucked up comfortably in bed. I’m woken up by playing or reading on my phone which is annoying.

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  12. Rita, my writing partner is now so time poor that he listens to way more books than reads any. It seems to suit him well. Whenever I’ve hurt my back and cannot hold a book, I do listen to books on Audible, and it is a joy to have something to take my mind away from the recovery process. Funnily enough, that’s the only time listening to a book doesn’t cause me to drift off. I guess the body knows what I need – fortunately 🙂


  13. Oooh Mark, there’s a lot of readers over listeners here and, in truth, I’m with them. It’s only the drifting off to sleep aspect that works for me. I’d not thought of someone pronouncing things differently, but agree I struggled to get used to a book I’d half read then switched to Audible on hurting my back and had to get used to hearing the protagonist’s voice with a Welsh accent. It was correct – as the character was Welsh – but that wasn’t how I’d heard her in my head.


  14. Lake Woebegon is an excellent before bed listen, definitely. My wife will sometimes ask me to entertain her with a game of “Name That Tune” until she starts to fall asleep. I use my phone to do it, but the only problem is that looking at a screen is the last thing one should be doing before falling asleep. So only one of us is sent into slumberland when that happens. 😉 – Marty

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  15. I’m pretty confident there’s other stories of his I’ve heard and keep meaning to check them out, so I have a back-up to my back-up (if you seen what I mean). The last time I was in hospital overnight for surgery, the wifi was decidedly dodgy so that’s what I listened to and when I go back to have the knee replacement done, I’ll need it. Yikes, yes that old blue light thing is a problem indeed.

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  16. You’ve piqued my interest, Debs. I love listening to podcasts, particularly those Dateline stories told by Keith Morrison or autobiographies read by the subject of the book. I’ve had less luck listening to audio fiction. I would like to listen to a sleep story, though. If the reader has a soothing voice, I think I would enjoy that.

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  17. Christie, I use the Calm app and it offers a 7-day free trial. I am fussy about my voices, but there’s a really good selection on there, with a good mix of male & female and different nationalities. I hope you like it! 🙂

    I’ve not come across the Dateline stories by Keith Morrison, I shall check them out. I’ve been enjoying the audible of Michele Obama reading her book Becoming too, although I’m not a great fan of audio with fiction either.


  18. Unless it’s a podcast on something I’m interested in, I’m not sure….even TV sends me to sleep very quickly on the rare occasions I try to watch something. I’m not so good with listening to a fictional story, I’d rather read it myself in a book otherwise I don’t really stay focused and probably drift off – but if the tones of the narrator are designed to help relax you into a sleepy state and it works for you, that’s great.✨

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  19. Cherryl, I’m often the same with TV, unless I’m genuinely engaged in the story. I’m impressed with the level of control the readers have – the good ones anyway – as they alter their speed and tone so effectively in order to lull. If my brain is absolutely racing – as it was last night – it can take multiple stories to get me out of my head and to calm down.


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