Every once in a while, a student will come into my classroom, scrunch up his nose, and say, “Ewwww! It smells like coffee in here!” I pick up the steaming cup of coffee on my desk and reply (sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud), “Better get used to it, little friend. You don’t want to know your teacher without her coffee!”
I am one of those people who needs coffee to start her day. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 13 and I have no intention of giving it up. I need a cup to start my day, and often a second cup to continue my day.
But what’s even more necessary to start my day than a cup of coffee? A good night’s sleep.
A few years ago, I suffered from a horrendous bout of insomnia. Some nights I would sleep only 2 or 3 hours. Other nights I didn’t sleep at all. It was truly painful. I ended up missing a day of work once (which is very hard for teachers to do) because I hadn’t slept in almost 3 days. So, like the good student that I am, I researched the best sleep aid medications, spoke with my doctor, and consulted WebMD more than I should. (Did you know that there’s a very rare disease in which your brain prevents you from sleeping until you eventually die? I now know.) Unfortunately, I generally had mixed results with what I found.
I eventually stumbled upon an app called Calm. It is a meditation app but with a creative feature that supports sleep. Calm has “Sleep Stories”, which are essentially bedtime stories for adults. As the app explains, we tell bedtime stories to children not only to support their reading, but also to help them relax and prepare for sleep. Why would adults be any different? Calm has a repertoire of sleep stories including classics like “The Magic Swan” and “The Velveteen Rabbit”, biographies like “Queen Victoria”, and stories about nature and animals like “Expedition to Antarctica”. One of my favorites, “Blue Gold”, is all about the lavender fields of Provence. Each story is on average 20 minutes long and is told by a narrator with a soothing voice.
It might sound a bit silly to listen to a bedtime story as an adult, but I can tell you that I have never heard the end of any of the sleep stories. I really do fall asleep every time. As someone who often struggles just to turn my brain off at night, sleep stories do the trick by basically distracting me from myself. Sometimes, I’m not even paying attention to the words of the story. Just the sound of the narrator’s voice puts me to sleep. Finding this app was a godsend, as I now have a means of falling asleep that is effective and isn’t a drug. And sometimes I even learn something from the story! Nerdy, I know.
I cannot guarantee that sleep stories will work for everyone. But I can tell you that I use it often and have found it to work very well for me.
We teachers read to our students all the time and they love it. Let yourself listen to a story from time to time too.
Be well and sleep well,