Sunday Night Sleep Troubles

 
sleep-troubles
 

Sunday is by far the cruelest night of the week for those who have trouble sleeping, according to a new study.

Three times as many of us sleep badly on Sunday as on any other single night, according to a survey of 4,279 Americans and Britons conducted by pollsters YouGov, on behalf of us at Calm.

Monday is the next worst night for sleep trouble, named by 8% of all poll respondents, compared to three times as many (23%) identifying Sunday, while Thursday night is when fewest (2%) struggle to sleep.

@@“Sunday may be the day of rest but it seems the night of restlessness”@@, says Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm, which many users rely on to help them sleep. “Thursday, in contrast, seems the true night of rest.” 

To help our users fall asleep on Sunday nights, We've launched a new “Sleep Story” or bedtime story for grown-ups called Sleepy Sunday. It comprises a soothing essay of reflections on what still makes Sundays a day apart and the perfect chance to relax, wind down, recharge. 

 
 

The biggest reason that so many people sleep badly on Sundays is that the weekend is when they throw off their normal sleep routine, says Dr Steve Orma, a clinical psychologist and insomnia specialist, who himself delivers a talk on sleep science as part of our Sleep Stories collection.

“Many people go to bed later on Friday and Saturday nights and then sleep in later on Saturday and Sunday mornings,” says Dr Orma. “So, when they go to bed on Sunday night, they’re often just not tired. And then when they can’t sleep, they start to think about why they’re not sleeping, which only makes things worse.”

By Thursday night, in contrast, most of us have got fully back into our routine and therefore sleep better on average than on any other night.

Another factor making Sunday a bad sleep night is alcohol, says Dr Orma. “On weekends, people drink more alcohol, which definitely disturbs sleep.”

Anxiety about returning to work on Monday might sometimes be a third factor, says Dr Orma. “But that’s not the main reason in most cases.”

“Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week, according to the old Frank Sinatra song”, says Alex Tew, co-founder of Calm. “But Sunday night turns out to be the most restless.”  

Difficulty sleeping is a modern epidemic, adds Tew. “It’s also one of the main reasons that people use Calm.” Our sleep stories have now been listened to over 10 million times since their launch at the end of last year.

“I sometimes have trouble sleeping on Sundays myself”, says Calm’s Michael Acton Smith. “But now I have the perfect cure – listening to our latest new Sleep Story, Sleepy Sunday. 

 
 

Top Tips For Overcoming Sunday Night Sleep Problems

by psychologist and insomnia expert, Dr Steve Orma 

1. Have a regular wake-up time

The biggest single tip is to have a consistent wake-up time – and try not to diverge too far from it on weekends. Avoid sleeping in more than, say, an hour later on weekends than during the week. So, you might get up at 8am instead of your normal 7am.

2. Cut down on alcohol

On Sundays, try to abstain from alcohol; or, at least, consume far less, like just a glass of wine.

3. Find a way to relax, wind down, drift off

If you’re worried that you might have trouble falling asleep find a way to relax, wind down and drift off. Try, indeed, listening of one of Calm’s 30+ Sleep Stories – or, best of all, its latest new Sleep Story, created for precisely this occasion – Sleepy Sunday.

 
 

The Art of Writing Sleep Stories

waterfall.png

By Michael Acton Smith

Chris Advansun is the talented writer behind many of the most popular Sleep Stories in the Calm app. We sat down with him to chat about this unconventional but very valuable new literary medium.

Michael Acton Smith (MAS): So Chris, how have you tackled the Sleep Stories you’ve written? Walk us through your approach.

Chris Advansun (CA): Well, the original idea was a fictional story that relaxes and soothes the listener off to sleep. My first thinking was to tell a very simple story that centers on lush visual description. A simple character visits a magical place, and through rich sensory description of the character’s experience, the listener is transported.

Then, working with Tamara (Tamara Levitt), we added mindfulness elements in a very deliberate way, giving the stories a grounding, calming quality.

@@Instead of an elaborate buildup, Sleep Stories are a gradual unwind.@@ As the character explores beautiful settings, the experience relaxes our bodies, quiets our minds, and soothes us to sleep.

 
 

MAS: You mentioned the mindfulness elements. Tell us more about that.

CA: Tamara has been an incredible resource in helping to integrate mindfulness concepts and techniques into the stories. There are a few ways we do this.

The first is helping the listener focus their attention on an anchor, usually the breath. This quiets the mind and helps shift the listener away from their overactive thoughts. As the character travels along her journey, she is fully immersed in the present moment. The thinking is that the listener experiences this immersion along with the character.

The second mindfulness element is body awareness and relaxation techniques. When a story opens, the narrator walks the listener through a brief body scan exercise to help quiet the mind and relax the body. We also integrate body scans into the actual story. As the character scans though her sensations, the hope is that the listener does the same.

The final element has to do with the way settings and scenes are described. As Tamara talks about in her meditation programs, mindfulness involves perceiving ordinary moments with curiosity, a beginner’s mind, and a sense of wonder. One way to experience this is by coming into contact with nature, perhaps in a park or forest. The idea is to observe the beauty of nature in all its exquisite detail: the colors of a flower, the movements of a bird, the sounds of a river, the smells of a forest. This attentive observation keeps us in present moment awareness.

This is the spirit of how I’ve written my Sleep Stories. @@The narrator soothingly describes the character’s sensory experience, moment by moment, as she observes and marvels at the wonder of nature - sights, sounds, smells, sensations.@@

 
 

MAS: Part of what works about the stories is the language. How do you approach the writing, from a craft perspective?

CA: I just try to be a student and practitioner of the tricks of good writing. Sometimes I play with sentence structure, using long cumulative sentences that widen to a descriptive culmination, or narrow to a descriptive conclusion. Other situations call for a parallel structure, which can take on a repetitive quality almost like poetry.

And then there are things like clever noun phrases and interesting verb choices. I’m always thinking about how I could describe an object or action using noun phrases and verbs that are a little unexpected, not the obvious way of describing things.

I also use a lot of simile and metaphor, which of course are timeless writing devices.

MAS: It seems your stories have certain elements of traditional storytelling, but not others. How do you decide what stays and what goes?

CA: I’ve learned much of what I know about storytelling by studying the craft of screenwriting. In film, stories must contain certain elements to hook audience attention and deliver an emotionally satisfying experience: things like desire, obstacles, conflict, tension, and complications.

Sleep Stories are different. They are narrative, but instead of building up tension and stakes, the idea is to unwind. The character’s experience becomes more lovely, more beautiful, more calm as the story unfolds. There’s no conflict to speak of, and there are really no obstacles. There may be a desire, but it’s a simple one, like the wish to have a question answered.

The final part of this has to do with character. In novels and movies, characters must be “multi-dimensional,” as the saying goes. This means they have desires, flaws, and contradictions. In Sleep Stories, we’re stripping most of that away. The character we follow is relatively simple. We don’t need to know too much about her, just enough to like her and want to join her on the journey. In a sense, we inhabit her perspective. Her senses and emotions are a vehicle through which the listener experiences the beauty of the world.

 
 

MAS: It also feels like, on an emotional level, the character’s experience is relaxing and soothing, not fraught with turbulence.

CA: Exactly. The joy of watching ‘Die Hard’ lies in experiencing tension and fear and pain along with the character. @@In a Sleep Story, the character goes through a totally positive emotional experience.@@ In fact, it is increasingly positive as the story unfolds, so that by the end she is in a state of deep relaxation. She feels content, safe, grateful, and at peace.

MAS: The story is the starting point, but then the performance is also quite important.

CA: The performance is hugely important. It’s been such an honor to hear the stories delivered by such talented performers, like Tamara Levitt and Clarke Peters. The delivery is crucial. It needs to be slow, melodic, and soothing, almost like a literary lullaby. My hope with the writing is that it creates a blueprint for a soothing delivery, giving the performer passages that can be brought to life in a rhythmic, poetic way.

 
 

MAS: Which is your favorite story?

CA: Good question. It’s been a process to hone in on what works best, so I find the more recent stories are tighter, in terms of writing. I’d probably say ‘The Waterfall,’ because it has a cool structure to it, an interesting character desire we want to see resolved. I also love ‘The Butterfly Sanctuary,’ narrated by Clarke Peters. In that story, I used some settings that one wouldn’t normally associate with relaxation, like a busy urban setting and a loud subway. But the story finds the peace and tranquility in those places, which is not just a challenge in storytelling, but a challenge in life. As Tamara talks about in her sessions, when we can gain awareness and find beauty in mundane moments, we are practicing mindfulness. Clarke does an amazing job bringing the story to life and soothing the listener off to sleep.

 
 

MAS: Well Chris, on behalf of Calm users, thank you for this conversation and I look forward to your upcoming stories.

CA: Thank you for the opportunity, Michael. It’s been wonderful to work on this, and it’s been rewarding to see how Calm users have responded to the stories.

 

About the Authors

Michael Acton Smith isn a co-founder of Calm. He's devoted to making the world a happier and healthier place though the superpowers of mindfulness and meditation.


Chris Advansun is a writer and editor at Calm. He is the author of several of the company's Sleep Stories, including The Waterfall, The Butterfly Sanctuary, and several forthcoming stories. Prior to joining Calm, Chris worked as a marketing executive for tech and advertising companies.

To contact or keep up with Chris, follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 

Happiness doesn't come from Headstands

 
 

We write about what we know. And personally, I know a lot about failure. As an artist and entrepreneur, I’ve always been a risk taker, but life doesn’t typically prepare us for when we fall.

Nearly a decade ago, a series of consecutive failures left me lost in life and lost in myself. It was a time of great fear and uncertainty, of depression, anxiety and shame, of sleepless nights and loneliness, of forgetting who I was and losing faith in my path and all confidence in my talent. And this went on and on for quite some time, until in not knowing what to do or where to turn, I had no choice but to give up.

Giving up is something that’s hard to do when you’ve invested everything in a dream. Time, Energy, Money. All I was left with was the feeling of failure.

 
 

That is, until I stepped back and offered myself some space in which to gain perspective. @@It took a great deal of time, contemplation, meditation and tears but eventually I was able to recognize that having failed didn’t mean that I was a failure.@@ All it meant is that project didn’t go the way I’d hoped. So it was time to let go of the dream I’d been holding onto and start anew.

And so I did the only thing I could. I created from exactly where I was, in the dark. I wrote a children’s book about failure and perfectionism and patience and self-compassion and all the things I most needed to remember.
 
And now, many years, after first self-publishing this book, and releasing it again with Wisdom Publications, I’m filled with gratitude. For @@when you know the darkest dark the smallest amount of light can mean the world.@@
 
So today I’m thankful that I was able to take a big deep breath and find the resilience to take one step after the next. I’m grateful I was able to figure out how to let go of what I was clinging to and humbly write and illustrate and self-publish a children’s book, which was no small feat when you know nothing about publishing a book. @@I’m thankful that I learned the lesson that self-worth does not equate achievement and that I am able to now share this lesson with children everywhere.@@ 

 
 

So in parting, if you don’t feel the sun shining down on you today, If there is darkness in your world, I hope that you can find a little inspiration in this story, remembering that @@you can only go halfway into the darkest forest, before you are coming out the other side.@@
 
With love,
Tamara

 

About the Author

Tamara Levitt is the  Head of Content and mindfulness instructor at Calm. She writes, narrates and produces our meditation sessions and some of our most beloved sleep stories. She is also an author, published with Wisdom publications.

If you want to keep up to date with Tamara's latest offerings you can visit her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 

AND NOW TO SOOTHE YOU INTO DREAMLAND ... THE SHIPPING FORECAST

 

The late-night Shipping Forecast on the BBC is a maritime weather report, a British institution, a national treasure and … an accidental natural sleep aid of rare potency.

Now Britain’s strange “national lullaby” is becoming a bedtime story for grown-ups… in the form of a new Sleep Story

shipping forecast illustration.png
 

@@The late-night Shipping Forecast on the BBC has been sending Britons gently to sleep for nearly a century.@@ This inspired us to turn it into a Sleep Story with hopes that people across the world could benefit from this tried, tested and true natural sleep aid. 

The Shipping Forecast is a broadcast of weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the British Isles – and is delivered four times a day on BBC Radio 4. 

Peter Jefferson, the former BBC continuity announcer – and a distant relation of Thomas Jefferson – who became known as “the voice of the Shipping Forecast” after four decades of reading it on the BBC, has recorded a special new version for us, complete with unusually calm maritime conditions.  

He also delivers his own introduction, which explains for the benefit of beginners the forecast’s history, background and special place in the UK’s national life. 

 
 

First issued in 1861, as a forecast of maritime conditions for those at sea, it has been broadcast by the BBC since 1924. Down the years, it has seeped into Britain's national consciousness and become a symbol of the country and a treasured part of national life, while continuing to play a crucial role providing gale warnings and maritime forecasts. 

“The version of it broadcast last thing at night”, says Jefferson, 71, “has been likened to a meditation, a mantra and a kind of lullaby since for many people it is not just rhythmic, familiar and soothing but also the last thing they listen to at night before falling asleep.” 

Many faithful listeners today may find The Shipping Forecast the perfect cure for insomnia but it was and is designed for seafarers rather than landlubbers, and always starts like this:

“And now the Shipping Forecast, issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency...” 

The remote, outlying parts of the British Isles and surrounding seas that the Shipping Forecast refers to are places that most listeners have never visited and could not point to on a map but which, thanks to The Shipping Forecast, form a nightly litany of strange yet familiar names that has become part of their lives.  

 
shipping news for insomnia

The Shipping Forecast has inspired poetry – as well as literature, theatre, comedy and music – and been called poetry itself. @@“Can there be anything in any language to match the poetry of the Shipping Forecast?”@@ asked The Guardian, when Jefferson finally parted company with the BBC. “I doubt it.” 

 

The version of The Shipping Forecast that is read at the end of the day, when most people are tucked up in bed, is preceded by an extract from a short piece of light music called Sailing By, and is broadcast just before one o’clock in the morning. 

Sailing By is a slow, swooning, Mantovani-style waltz, with a repetitive tune that helps sailors tuning in to identify the right radio station. It was written by the British composer, Ronald Binge in 1963, but first played before the late-night Shipping Forecast in 1967 – 50 years ago this year. It has by now become an integral, if not iconic part of the late-night Shipping Forecast. 

 
shipping news for sleep
 

Peter Jefferson first joined the BBC in 1964. He began his four decades of broadcasting the Shipping Forecast barely a couple of years after the introduction of Sailing By and ended it in 2009. 

In the intervening years, he was not the only BBC announcer to present the Shipping Forecast but he became the doyen of the art. “For this daily dose of the beautiful to work, nothing is more important than the god who administers it”, wrote The Guardian. “None has been more perfect in the last few years than Peter Jefferson, the voice of perfect modulation.” 

 

He is also perhaps the world’s leading authority on the Shipping Forecast, having not just broadcast it for 40 years but also written a praised book on it, which was published in 2011 with the title, And Now The Shipping Forecast

“People used to write to me saying how soothing they found it after a long day to hear this familiar mantra and say, ‘I love it when you send me to sleep at night reading the ships’. @@‘I love it when you send me to sleep at night reading the ships’@@

“Well, I hope I haven’t lost my knack, and that our new recording will now have the same effect on many new listeners across the world.” 

To listen to this unique Sleep Story visit the Calm app or website.

 
 
 

What is ASMR?

 
 

For the unacquainted, autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, refers to the experience of a pleasurable tingling sensation that is triggered by particular stimuli.

A sort of euphoria is possible for some people while listening to quiet ambient noise or the sound of a whisper.

Many people report that ASMR offers relief from insomnia, depression, and anxiety. The evidence just might be in the millions of youtube views. Over the past few years, the video sharing platform has become a popular way to seek out an ASMR experience. 

Given that part of our mission at Calm is to help you sleep better, we decided to explore this phenomenon. We reached out to self-identified ASMRtist, Emma Whispers Red, to see if she could enchant us into slumber.

Check out Emma's ASMR version of The Velveteen Rabbit in our Sleep Stories collection. Let us know if you get the tingles

Also, learn more about ASMR in the following interview with Emma and Calm Co-founder, Michael Acton Smith. 

 
 

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you discovered ASMR?

My name is Emma, and I'm an ASMR content creator on YouTube. As long as I can remember, a calming 'tingly sensation' has been a part of my normal sensory experience. I loved the sense of contentment that I felt drifting off during story time or while my brother and sister drew letters on my back. When I tried to talk about it with others, I realized that not everyone shared my experience. Over time, I shied away from speaking about it, but still savoured the feeling whenever it arose. After a road accident which resulted in numerous operations, almost a year where I was unable to walk, and trouble falling asleep, I searched for relaxation videos on YouTube. That's when I discovered ASMR videos and that others also experience the same sensation that I'd been feeling since I was young. 

What exactly is ASMR?

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It's a tingly/sparkly sensation that usually begins in the crown of the head and works its way down the back and through the limbs. The feeling is extremely relaxing and is often triggered by soft sounds, soft voices, whispering and light touching. Many people have an ASMR experience during a head massage or a facial, having their hair played with or while someone strokes their arm. Most individuals who experience ASMR, have strong memories of when this feeling was triggered as a child. For me, I always remember enjoying eye tests, having my hair played with and quiet time in class as the other students read books and slowly turned the pages. I create videos with the intention of inducing this feeling in the viewer. 

 
 

How does ASMR relate to calm?

I've heard many people in the ASMR community talk about the Calm app. We understand the use of sound for relaxation and sleep. Personally, I know how important it is to have tools that I can turn to when I am struggling to sleep or relax. As a content creator, I receive emails regularly from viewers telling me how my videos have helped them through tough times. ASMR videos are said to put us into a meditative state and bring about presence. The ability to share ASMR digitally means that people can get the support they need when they need it. ASMR videos and Calm both offer accessible relief from day-to-day stress.

Does everybody have the same response to ASMR?

Not everyone experiences the sensation of ASMR. Even for those who experience it, the videos made to induce it are not always appealing. Each person has a unique set of triggers, in the same way, that people prefer different food or music. That's why there is a huge variety of content available. 

Some people who have never heard of ASMR videos or who have different sensitivities find it hard to understand the intention behind them or why others might enjoy them. At first glance, some videos seem quite intimate, so I can understand the confusion. There is also a phenomenon, known as Misophonia, which is an aversion to some sounds. So crunching paper or mouth sounds can produce a kind of opposite ASMR effect! 

 
 

How big is the global ASMR community?

The first 'Whisper Video' was made in 2009. The term ASMR came later. Since then, the community of "experiencers" which includes both viewers and content creators has grown rapidly. One video alone can accrue millions of views as individuals will use it on several occasions to drift off to sleep. In addition to those who feel the tingly sensation, those who simply enjoy sounds and voices as a means of relaxation have joined the ASMR community. Millions of kind and sensitive people find a common connection in sound. It's a global phenomenon that continues to gain momentum every month. ASMR has become so popular, that we're finding the techniques used in advertising and even famous actors have tried their hand at making videos. It's a lot of fun and wonderful to see, but for me being able to reach out to others with love, kindness, acceptance, and courage is everything. Sensitive people of the world unite! We're taking over!

 
Listen to Emma Whisper Red's ASMR version of The Velveteen Rabbit in our Sleep Stories collection tonight.

Listen to Emma Whisper Red's ASMR version of The Velveteen Rabbit in our Sleep Stories collection tonight.

 

About Emma 

I am an ASMR content creator on YouTube and film videos in a little shed in my garden. This lovely feeling has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child I was sensitive, introverted and definitely a daydreamer. Over time, the tingles became a soothing tool, something dear to me and a form of escapism. From daydreaming in class to falling asleep listening to sounds from downstairs, it was a personal experience and I felt very lucky to have it. It kept me calm when the whole world around me wasn’t. I did over time try to explain it to others in my life but was often met with blank looks even halfway through the first sentence. It was always very hard to explain and after time, I stopped. Later though, I found that my younger Brother experiences it. He named it ‘The Golden Feeling’ a perfect description.

How to Ease Suffering in Yourself and Others

 
 

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh said: “When you listen deeply, you help people suffer less.”

Perhaps you've experienced the healing quality of someone compassionately listening to your struggles. Rather than trying to fix you or give advice, they acknowledge your pain. At that moment, you feel a little less alone. From there, your inner wisdom and strength arise. It is transformative to feel seen and understood without judgment.

The same way that you can listen to a friend and soothe their suffering, you can begin to learn to listen to and heal yourself.

Mindfulness is a practice of listening. Not only do we notice sounds and what is happening around us, but we also become more aware of what’s going on within. Our sensations, emotions and inner voices are all forms of communication. When you tune in, you may notice that some of these expressions are loud and bold and others are quiet and timid.

For example, your shoulders may be screaming with tension while somewhere deep within there is a tiny voice of sadness that you can only hear when you are really still. It can be easy to wish away the tension and keep moving to avoid the sadness. What if instead, you asked your shoulders: Why are you so tense? And what if you stopped and made space for the grief your discover to share its story?

The truth is, we often don't go there because the answers can be inconvenient. They can ask us to make shifts in the way we are living. At first, that can feel scary or even impossible. However, in my experience, it's always worth it. When I heard my shoulders emphatically say, “we have too much going on,” it took some creativity (and courage) to realize there were a few things I could say no to and take off my plate. My shoulders relaxed, and I felt freer than when I would ignore their cries for help. When I acknowledged the grief within, I sought support so I could cry and feel my heartache. As a result, I felt lighter and more open to the opportunities for joy each day.

The practice is to listen as if you are going out for tea with yourself. When you are done listening, ask more questions so you can listen more. Mindfulness teaches us that we don't have to figure out how to ease suffering. The way to calm our suffering will come naturally in the process of compassionate listening. 

Mindfulness Experiment
The next time you encounter someone who expresses suffering, try the following:

  1. Ask the person how they are and listen with your whole body 
  2. After listening, take a moment to imagine how that must feel for him or her
  3. Acknowledge the struggle without trying to fix it
  4. Ask a follow-up question to demonstrate curiosity and learn more about what is happening
  5. Be present as you listen
  6. Thank the other person for sharing what's going on for them
  7. Reflect on the quality of your interaction

Be Your Valentine!

No matter our relationship status, our capacity to love and be loved relates to our ability to love ourselves. 

The concept of self-love is often tossed around as if it were easy or some place to arrive (like the top of the mountain, you're either there or your not). The truth is, it's more like meditation, it's a practice. 

Some days it's romantic like taking a bubble bath or buying yourself something special. Other days, it's ordinary like making your lunch and paying your bills. You might be rolling your eyes right now, but just imagine if someone were to make you lunch and pay your bills, you might find yourself in awe of their generosity. However, when was the last time you thanked yourself for doing these things? Recognizing all of the work you do to take care of yourself is an act of self-love. 

Another way to show love to yourself is to listen inward so that you can understand what you need and then honor whatever arises. So often, our body or heart communicates something to us, and we say that's silly, you shouldn't need that or you don't deserve that. What would happen if the next time you became aware of exhaustion, you gave yourself permission to take a nap?  

Or, the next time you stood in front of the mirror, you looked for the beauty (or the handsome)?  

At Calm, we believe these acts of self-love add up and enrich the love we feel for ourselves and others. So whether you're single, in a relationship or it's complicated make sure to send yourself a valentine.

 

With love, 

The Calm team