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Can bedtime stories help one sleep better?
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Can bedtime stories help one sleep better?

Bedtime stories, narratives or audio recordings help individuals relax and fall asleep. Experts share how it improves one’s sleep quality

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye…” 

Bangalore-based law student Krishna Kashyap is well familiar with these lines from Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s beloved children’s classic ‘The Little Prince’. The 23-year-old likes the story so much that he makes sure to listen to at least portions of it as he lies in his bed each night. 

The magical world of stories is no longer confined to the years of childhood. Exposure to bedtime stories – be it from reading or listening to podcasts or watching online videos – has now become a regular part of many people’s routines. “I go to bed around 10pm and fall asleep within 15 minutes listening to the stories,” Kashyap said. He further noted that listening to stories not only helps him sleep better but also makes him feel more refreshed when he wakes up in the morning.

Do bedtime stories help you fall asleep?

According to health experts, sleep stories (also called bedtime stories) or audio recordings help people fall asleep. “Most of the time, a person will fall asleep after listening to a bedtime story that describes a peaceful environment, a gentle adventure, or a meditative experience. The content of a bedtime story is usually very calming and relaxing, which helps a person to fall asleep,” says Dr Pavan Yadav, lead consultant, Interventional Pulmonology & Lung Transplantation, Aster RV Hospital, Bangalore.

Children and adults prefer bedtime stories in different ways, says Tasneem Nakhoda, Psychotherapist, Behavioural Therapy, Tattva, Bangalore. Younger children prefer pictures to texts, while adults may prefer to read a book or listen to an audiobook of their choice which helps them unwind. Anything that calms the mind can help people sleep.

Tasneem explains that certain sounds or a soothing voice that narrates a bedtime story create vibrations and frequencies that the brain and nervous system perceive differently. It relaxes the mind and body and induces sleep. Nakhoda further explains that the use of gadgets creates stimulations that make the mind more alert and affect the circadian rhythms of sleep.

Does reading books affect your sleep?

In a study published in Trials in 2021, reading a book in bed before going to sleep was found to have improved the sleep quality of individuals when compared to not reading a book in bed. Another study conducted at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68% in individuals. It works better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea. Hence, it is always advised to read a book before going to bed.

Dr C J John, senior consultant psychiatrist at Medical Trust Hospital, Kochi in Kerala stressed that not just the soothing voice, but the content of the story also influences the sleep of the individuals. “If an individual listens to a story that is negative and disturbing, it will only lead to causing stress thereby affecting the sleep quality. Thus, the disturbing content of the stories also impacts the sleep of an individual,” he said.

Benefits of bedtime stories

According to health experts, bedtime stories aren’t just about getting a good night’s sleep. Whether you’re a child or an adult, here are some reasons why bedtime stories can help improve your sleep quality and more.

• Establishing a bedtime routine

Reading bedtime stories to children can strengthen the parent-child bond, provide quality time for bonding, and ensure a part of the nighttime routine. For adults, listening to stories before sleeping can help in establishing a bedtime routine.

• Reduce stress

Bedtime stories for children can have a calming effect and lower cortisol levels. This reduces stress and makes the transition to sleep easier. In adults, it can help individuals dealing with sleep disorders like insomnia in several ways such as reduction of stress and anxiety, distraction from racing thoughts, improving sleep onsets, and promoting mindfulness and relaxation.

• Improves logical skills

Bedtime stories encourage imagination and creativity, as they often involve vivid descriptions and imaginative worlds. Kids tend to see patterns in stories that enable critical thinking and reasoning like adults.

• Cognitive development

For children, hearing stories can contribute to vocabulary development and language skills. Engaging with stories can stimulate cognitive development, even in adults.

• Social and emotional growth

Bedtime stories, especially for children, include illustrations of different animals and characters which help them to express their thoughts and emotions.

Takeaways

  • Sleep stories, also known as bedtime stories, are narratives or audio recordings designed to help individuals relax and fall asleep.
  • Bedtime stories for both adults and children are narrated in such a manner that they leave a calming effect on the mind.
  • Bedtime stories have several benefits, ranging from establishing a sleep routine and reducing stress to even contributing to cognitive development.

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