A quick note to my insomniac friends


I know you’re out there.

The other day, NPR’s Hear and Now had a brief interview (too brief!) with Drew Ackerman, creator and promulgator of the “Sleep with Me” podcast.  Sabine had introduced me to this show some time ago, and I keep meaning to mention it here.

Remember when you were a kid, and someone would read you a bedtime story?  Remember how sometimes you’d fall asleep before the story was over?  But it mattered that the story was happening, right?  It was soothing, it made you feel safe, let your mind be free to wander off to dreamland…

Possibly you’re trying to use audiobooks to achieve the same effect, now that you’re an adult and no one reads to you. But audiobooks have a slight problem: they’re interesting!  Sometimes exciting! They are good books!  You wouldn’t have bought them if you weren’t interested, right?  You don’t want to sleep through the story.  Plus, you might suddenly jolt awake when the characters start arguing with each other, or cussing each other out.  Don’t they know you’re trying to get some rest?  Well, no.  They don’t.

Books are diverting, and enlightening, but not always soothing.

Enter Scooter, the narrator of “Sleep with Me.”   His slightly droney voice, his meandering digressions, his gently odd stories that wander from nowhere in particular to — well, you’re asleep before the end, so who knows where they wind up?  Somewhere.

Each episode of the podcast is carefully crafted, specifically designed to be … there’s no other way to say it: boring. 

It’s really quite an achievement.  Ackerman (aka Scooter) has given great and careful thought to how to design each episode so that it lulls you, becomes progressively more and more boring, less and less involving, soothing you and encouraging your own mind wander as you half-listen to a harmless half-sensible tale, or a possibly pointless digression…

Makes me sleepy even thinking about it.

I admit to being quite fond of Scooter and his tales,  even though I have absolutely never heard an entire episode from beginning to end.   Which is kind of the point.

The Hear and Now NPR interview didn’t say much… here’s a link to an article in the New Yorker that tells you more.

I’ve noticed that falling asleep to audiobooks can backfire; my sleep isn’t as deep as it would be otherwise, and it seems to fragment my dreams.   It does shut up my brain when my brain won’t stop chattering, but it manages that by overlaying some other thing to think about, and doesn’t really let my mind wander away when it needs to.

“Sleep with Me” does a better job.   Put it on your smartphone, start it up (don’t forget to plug in the charger!), and set your podcast app’s sleep function to “stop at the end of current episode”.

That’s over an hour of Scooter.

But you won’t hear the full hour. Trust me.

Drifting away

Drifting away

One Response to “A quick note to my insomniac friends”

  • TOS Says:

    Your post intrigued me so I downloaded several episodes of the podcast and tried it. I didn’t fall asleep any quicker than usual, but I did have the most peculiar dreams — not bad dreams, but unpleasant ones in that they didn’t feel like my own. After repro’ing a few times, I had to give up on the podcast. Weird…