The Secrets of Sleep Stories

Once upon a time, bedtime stories were only for children who knew no better than a world of happily ever after. But with a rebranding, the sleep story' s continual increase in popularity is evident with the rise of sleep story apps that often feature celebrities taking roles in voicing the stories. A great deal of research about the bedtime story examines its impact on children, but the nostalgia aspect allows people who have cozy memories of childhood story time to tap into the soothing experiences of bedtime stories by replicating some of the variables, like a cozy setting, flowing narrative, and soothing voices. (Duncan, 2021). 

So why are sleep stories so popular and is there more to them than a cultural fad?

Richard (2022) acknowledged that, "There’s a reason adults are drawn to bedtime stories, and it goes beyond whimsy and nostalgia." The return to childhood, to a time without life responsibilities and additional pressures provides much needed relief in a bustling, non-stop world. “A bedtime story works by detracting the mind from self-sabotaging thoughts and worries, which allows the body’s adrenaline to come down so the brain can transition into the sleep state,” said Dr. Christine Won, associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and the medical director of Yale Center for Sleep Medicine. “A story, more so than music or background noises, is more likely to force the stubborn mind’s attention away from whatever is causing emotional distress.”

Essentially, sleep stories work well as a form of distraction from life stresses; the mind has to focus on something else and with the audio aspects becoming essential components in establishing this pull to the story. 

Sleep stories are frequently used, as the name implies, before bed and therefore the audio landscape and thematic content upon which such stories hinge becomes a focal point for the listener’s relaxation. With a primary function to encourage and enhance sleep, the sounds that feature in sleep stories are frequently embedded with audio that is set to induce calmness and increase imagination. This means that as the listeners close their eyes, they are likely to take that relaxation through to their sleep.

With the confines of multiple lockdowns, the stresses of working from home and the health anxiety which swarms across the world, it is entirely understandable that we are going to experience an increase in stress levels and struggle to sleep. In fact there was unusual research into our dreams during lockdown; it is hardly surprising to find that these were often odd and vivid. Yet there is help and support available..

Try this when struggling to sleep:


Duncan, T. (2021) How Bed Time Stories Help Us Sleep.

Richards, H. (Jan. 2, 2022) Seeking a Good Night’s Sleep, Adults Turn to Bedtime Stories. P4. 

Solomonova, E.  Picard-Deland, C. L. Rapoport, I. Pennestri, M. Saad, M. Kendzerska, T. Veissiere, S. Godbout, R. Edwards, J. Quilty, R. (2021).

Stuck in a lockdown: Dreams, bad dreams, nightmares, and their relationship to stress, depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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