Most of us have experienced disruption in our sleep from COVID-19. Chronic, acute stress can do that - disrupt the ability to rest. When there is something new causing us to stay awake, we need to source new alternatives to achieve restful sleep, and sleep stories may be it!
Have you ever listened to a sleep story or a sleep talk in order to prepare your mind and body for sleep? Chances are you haven’t. And, chances are it could help promote quality sleep during these tumultuous times.
Storytelling is one of the human race’s most fundamental communication tools. According to a 2012 New York Times piece, Your Brain on Fiction, by Annie Murphy Paul, “the brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life.” This was concluded from a study led by Véronique Boulenger, a cognitive scientist out of the Laboratory of Language Dynamics in France.
Translation…When you read or listen to a story, your brain treats the experience being described the same way as if you were actually living it. So, what does this have to do with sleep?
When you listen to a story or a sleep talk that takes you on a walk through the woods or guides you slowly through breathing in and out, your mind transports you to those activities, even if you are not actually doing them. These activities relax the body and mind. Your muscles become less tense, your mind more quiet. Your parasympathetic nervous system releases a hormone called acetylcholine, which slows your heart rate down. Your body knows it is safe. These relaxation responses, simply from listening to a story that paints a picture of serenity, create an ideal environment for sleep.
A wonderful place to seek free sleep talks or sleep stories is the InsightTimer App or Website. Our Director of Marketing, Rachel Joyce, found this app while conducting yoga research (In addition to keeping us all organized, Rachel is a registered yoga teacher). She introduced it to the Nollapelli team, and I speak for all of us when I say, we are hooked!
We curated a couple of our favorite InsightTimer sleep stories:
- A reading of Hansel & Gretel by Ellen Mouton, a guru of meditation and mindfulness from France
- A Walk in Nature by author, podcaster and founder of ‘live awake,’ Sarah Bodin
- A reading of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet by the soothing voice of meditation teacher, Andrew Johnson
You might be thinking, what’s the difference between listening to a sleep story versus an audio book? A sleep story is designed - by way of the narrator's tone and volume, the pace at which the story is read and the topic - for sleep. Going back to the research of Boulenger, if our mind experiences what we hear in a story, the last thing you want to listen to before sleep is a story about high activity or distress (for example: high conflict stories, stories about war, individual or collective trauma, etc.).
We need to take care of and protect our sleep. With COVID-19 making sleep harder to achieve, sleep stories are an easy and free addition to your sleepcare routine, the intentional practices that improve and maximize one’s overall well-being during and surrounding sleep.
Want to learn more about sleepcare and exactly what it encompasses? Read our article here!