It's six o'clock in the morning and I'm fighting the urge to go back to sleep. It's not that I'm not well-rested. I had a good night's sleep and I'm already on my second cup of tea. And I'm a morning person, so it's pretty unusual for me to crash until later in the day. But my eyes are drooping, my mind is drifting and I can feel a snooze coming on. And it's all Ben Stein's fault.
Ben Stein is currently reading a bedtime story to me. Actually, he's reading the economics text "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith. And he's not really reading it to me. It's a recording and it's one of several bedtime stories for grownups offered by the Calm app.
Calm is a meditation app that guides listeners through sessions from two to 20 minutes in length. By far my favorite part about the app is the reminder, every time I click on it, to take a deep breath. It seems like such a simple thing, and something that I should be doing without even thinking about it, right? Yet every time I click on Calm and see that reminder, I suddenly feel like I've been holding my breath for hours.
Why Calm decided to branch out
Calm is popular for its guided meditation recordings, but that popularity skyrocketed after it added a selection of bedtime stories designed especially for grown-ups.
"Insomnia is a huge issue, and we've been exploring a number of ways to help people fall asleep without resorting to medication," Calm co-founder Michael Acton Smith told Co.Exist. "We loved having bedtime stories read to us as kids and thought it could be fun and highly effective to create similar stories for grown-ups."
Calm's bedtime stories are specifically created to help adults fall asleep. So unlike stories for kids, you won't hear any rhymes or silly characters. But you will hear stories that are engaging enough to take your mind off your everyday worries yet relaxing enough to help you drift off to la-la land. Some stories are nature- or travel-based while others feature Stein reading from an economics textbook aloud. In all of the stories, the narrators get quieter and takes longer pauses between words as the story continues to help you drift off.
And this is why, five minutes into Ben Stein's story, I'm genuinely having a hard time keeping my eyes open. I was only listening to the story so that I could write about it for this post. But maybe I'll just close my eyes for a minute...