By Matt Evans
More and more adults are tuning back in to the soothing nature of bedtime stories. Apps such as Calm and Headspace feature sleep stories, often read by famous voices such as Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Eva Green and others, designed to help adults drift off to sleep.
If you've not tried it, we recommend you grab your favorite pair of noise-cancelling headphones (our best workout earbuds guide is a good place to start for these) and try one for deeper sleep. Research by mattress company Simba found that 13% of 2,000 UK respondents found listening to something before bed more relaxing than reading a book.
Once you're ready for bed, we've got a great first sleep story for you to try, especially if you're a One Direction fan. In aid of World Mental Health Day, Niall Horan teamed up with apparel company Gym+Coffee to release his reading of Following the River Thames, a bedtime story from writer Phoebe Smith.
Check it out below:
Listen to Niall Horan's sleep story here:
"I'll be guiding you on a journey along the River Thames, from its source to the sea," Niall begins. In a statement on the Gym+Coffee site, he states: "With many struggling to sleep during these crazy times of the past 18 months, I was keen to get involved in Gym+Coffee’s initiative and help in any way possible. It’s really amazing to watch World Mental Health Day grow and we can clearly see a path for change."
Even though listening to sleep stories is becoming an increasingly common, soothing mindfulness practice, Calm's head of sleep stories Chris Advansun reportedly came across the phenomenon by accident. In an interview with Today, he said: “What tipped us off was so much meditation content being consumed at night... That’s part of what inspired the idea."
Using guided meditations to fall asleep is just one way to improve your bedrest. You can ease yourself into sleep using soothing scents such as lavender, which studies have found leads to better quality of sleep after two weeks of using the scent. Our best diffusers for essential oils can often be set on timers, allowing for puffs of the relaxing scents to be emitted at regular intervals during the night.
Is your bed too lumpy, or too hard? You can also try one of our best mattress toppers for an instant improvement without shelling out for an entirely new mattress.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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