Whether you’re getting through a good page-turner or Netflix is automatically lining up the next episode of Stranger Things, most media does its best to hold your attention. But podcast Sleep With Me is different; each episode consists of a dull bedtime story that promises to bore listeners to sleep. We explore the insights behind the podcast’s creation, and how media transcended its role as pure entertainment.
Sleep With Me is the creation of Drew Ackerman, who writes and narrates the podcast in his dreariest – but most comforting – voice. The boring bedtime stories are designed to ‘distract your racing mind’. Ackerman releases multiple episodes each week and attracts 2.3 million downloads a month. Some episodes are based around dull retellings of TV shows like Game of Thrones, while others are simply sprawling anecdotes lasting around 90 minutes. “Whatever it is that, every time you try to close your eyes or relax, jockeys for your attention,” says Ackerman, “I’m gonna take my voice here and send it across the deep dark night.”
A boring podcast isn’t always a bad thing
Sleep With Me Podcast (2014) ©
Sleep With Me isn’t alone in its therapeutic use; podcasts in general have become a go-to for those who struggle to sleep, with journalist Pamela Druckerman referring to podcasts as ‘the new Xanax’. “I’d taken sleeping pills on and off since entering my 40s,” she writes. “But once I started listening to podcasts before bed, I didn’t need the pills anymore.” It’s an example of how media has become a tool in people’s drive to become their best selves. Whether it’s using music for motivation, cinema as a glorified babysitter or slow TV to get a moment of peace, media today does far more than simply entertain.
And its health benefits are under particular scrutiny. While sleeping pills might be the most reliable option for the over a third of Americans who report some level of sleep deprivation, they’re also highly addictive, so people are looking for drug-free alternatives. People are already using apps, trackers and natural remedies to keep an eye their physical and mental health, but the use of podcasts is unique and subversive. Who knew a podcast that sends you to sleep would ever be a good thing?
Katy Young is a behavioural analyst at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research. She has a degree in American Studies and Film and an MA in Journalism. Her interests include wild swimming, thinking of podcast ideas and singing in an all-female choir.
31 Mar 17
2 min read