How guided sleep meditation apps helped me sleep

It’s 4 a.m. again and I’m wandering around a marina, being introduced to a bunch of local cats by name.

Each one has a boat and a backstory, and I’m meeting them all thanks to the most low-key, soothing voice possible. Having encountered the self-indulgent Ginger, grand Saba, and tiny Bebe, I finally, finally nod off to sleep. It’s been a while.

This is just one of the many bedtime audio journeys I took to help conquer a bout of insomnia after moving countries. It’s called a “sleepcast” a kind of sleep meditation-podcast hybrid launched by mindfulness app Headspace in 2018. They’re not the first to do it, but they truly nailed it.

I’d never experienced this level of insomnia before, lucky to avoid it at this intensity for most of my life. I’d just moved to London from Sydney, started a new job, and was doing my absolute best to find an apartment in a completely new country that would accommodate me, my partner, and our Irish wolfhound cross, Padfoot. This proved to be one hell of a stressful task, one that left me suddenly sleepless, scrolling determinedly but uselessly through real estate listings on my phone at ungodly hours of the night.

During this time, I was working on about one to two hours of interrupted sleep a night for about two months. Something had to change — I was seeing stars in meetings and, just quietly, losing my damn mind. And that’s when I found my way to the Cat Marina.

I’d already been using meditation app Headspace for a number of years, doing the basic exercises but not really branching out to other parts of the app. The Sleep section is not hard to find — just hit the little moon icon in the footer menu. Right at the top of the feed you’ll find the sleepcasts, as Headspace calls them, “audio content designed specifically to create the right conditions for healthy, restful sleep.” 

Sleepcasts are a collection of 45 to 55 minute stories told in deliberately soothing voices that begin with a wind-down meditation or breathing exercise, followed by a narrated tour of somewhere truly chill. Each feels like a bedtime story for adults, an effective ritual we lose when we grow up and don’t have someone to tuck us in and narrate us into slumber. The voices and settings, according to Headspace, are meant to “evoke feelings of reassurance and safety.” 

It’s the equivalent of Abe Simpson telling a long-winded story.

You can toggle the ratio of ambience to voice, and pick from a range of scenarios, or more accurately ‘tours’ through certain settings. My personal favourites are the Midnight Laundrette (ooh), Night Swimming (aah), Slow Train (sure), Desert Campfire (classic), and of course, Cat Marina (there it is). Each recording is changed up each night, so the story is slightly different every time you listen. “That way, you can’t memorize the narrative, and use it to track the passage of time, something we found could cause anxiety for restless sleepers,” reads Headspace’s website. 

Here’s one, Rainday Antiques, in which you can shelter from a storm in a cosy, velvet-draped store filled with curios, ornaments, and works of art. The description of the establishment goes into the finer details — the physical features of the store, the clientele, the owner, the weather outside, and the weird and wonderful items in stock — and everything happens extremely slowly. It’s the equivalent of Abe Simpson telling a long-winded story. But there’s no onion tied to anyone’s belt.

“Unlike podcasts, TV shows, or audiobooks, Headspace sleepcasts don’t conform to normal story structure. Each one is a tour of a different landscape, which means there’s no beginning, middle, or end. You can pick up listening wherever you like, and fall asleep without missing anything,” says Headspace’s description. “Just like a bedtime story, a sleepcast is designed to soothe the listener — occupying the mind just enough to take their mind off the events of the day, but not so much that it keeps them awake.”

Some are available without signing up to a paid subscription with Headspace, while most are locked. It depends how much you think you’ll use it, and the other parts of the app on whether or not you feel like shelling out for more variety.

Sleep meditation apps aren’t really common on their own, but most meditation apps will have at least some dedicated practices that focus on improving sleep specifically. Rival app Calm has its own star-studded selection of Sleep Stories, launched two years before Headspace’s in 2016, with the likes of Nick Offerman, Stephen Fry, Lucy Liu, and Matthew McConaughey reading original tales for you to drift off to. The tiny problem for me with these tales is that I want to hear the end of Stephen Fry’s jaunts around the south of France, not fall asleep in the middle of it. 

The sleepcast style seems more dominant in podcasts, including Apple chart-topper Sleep With Me, which runs on pretty much the same idea as that of Headspace and Calm — grown-up bedtime stories told in a deliberately low, calming tone to get you to fall asleep before the story’s over. That being said, apps like Omvana, 10 Percent Happier, and Stop, Breathe and Think all have strong sleep sections, I just didn’t click with their meditations as much I did with the sleepcasts. Everyone’s different, and it probably had a lot to do with the cats.

Perhaps being read an old-fashioned bedtime story as an adult did it. Perhaps finally finding a place to live did it (it eventually happened, in case you were wondering). But sleepcasts made my struggle with insomnia so much more bearable, eventually helping me ditch it for good. I never made it to the end of what happens in the Rainday Antiques store. The Midnight Laundrette remained open for business while I nodded off. These sleepcasts are truly effective for me, at least, and something to keep coming back to. Maybe one night I’ll finally meet all the cats in the marina. Unlikely.

Originally posted: Source link


Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our newsletter

Join our monthly newsletter and never miss out on new stories and promotions.
Techhnews will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at newsletter@techhnews.com. We will treat your information with respect.

%d bloggers like this: