That doesn’t mean they work for everyone, however.
“I found that listening to sleep stories was very distracting instead of calming,” said Marian Alaya, 39, from Long Valley, NJ. Now, she prefers white noise or guided meditations.
“When the bedtime stories were introduced, I decided to try something different, and I’m glad I did. I love how the stories help me to visualize all of the details — I find it very relaxing,” said Nancy Chernoff, a 60-year-old small business owner from Montreal. Without the comfort of her dog one night, Ms. Chernoff turned to “Fido’s Journey to His Fur-ever Home,” a story on Breethe about a rescue dog.
“The stories engage my mind enough that I can visualize the details of the story rather than focusing on other, more stressful thoughts that so often pop up at bedtime,” said Ms. Chernoff, who also enjoys the travel stories because of their rich detail.
Dr. Kelly Goldman, a radiation oncologist from El Segundo, Calif., noticed that during her nightly bedtime story ritual with her son, she would also grow tired. Eventually, she wondered if they’d work on her, too.
“Early in the pandemic was a really stressful time for me at work. I’m a doctor in a radiation oncology center with cancer patients who are at real risk of getting very sick with Covid,” Dr. Goldman said. She found some brief peace through quiet bedtime stories with flowery language “where nothing really happens.”
“They feel cozy,” she said. “I feel a little bit like a kid again.”
These apps and podcasts offer a wide variety of bedtime stories — which is good, because experts agree there is no one size fits all when it comes to sleep. There are whispered stories for A.S.M.R. lovers; retellings of the classics; travel journeys; original stories centered around a theme, like holiday; a whole category called “boring,” with mundane-by-design recitations of things like the art of bread making; lyrical poems; and stories recited by recognizable celebrity voices.