A podcast so boring that it will help you doze off
We test a podcast that aims to be so boring that it helps people fall off to sleep
We hit the sack rather late on Monday night. In fact, it is a little after four in the morning. We've been watching a bit of TV, before lying in bed and surfing the net and then reading a book, almost drifting in and out of sleep as the words start swimming before our eyes. But all along, we have known that our final act before catching 40 winks will be to listen to a podcast as part of an assignment. It's called Sleep With Me. And the aim of the initiative is to narrate such mind-numbingly dull stories that the listener can't help but enter la-la land in a matter of some minutes.
So much so, that Drew Ackerman, its creator, says that Sleep With Me is "the podcast that sheep listen to when they get tired of counting themselves" (referring to the common trick of a person counting sheep jumping over a fence, so as to try and fall asleep). Suitably encouraged, we put on an episode called The Elf Nobody Knew Takes a Holiday Adventure Sabbatical. Then, we wait with droopy eyes to find out how successful the endeavour is.
The first thing that strikes us is the southern drawl that Ackerman — a 42-year-old New Yorker who narrates the episodes himself — employs as a sleep-inducing mechanism. His speech is so excruciatingly slow that it mimics the pace at which a vehicle moves during rush hour in Mumbai's traffic. The story itself revolves around a tree that was tied to a car but fell off during a snowstorm, and which then walks to its owner's home, with an elf joining it during the journey. And somewhere a little after the half-hour mark in the one-hour long episode, the stream-of-consciousness delivery in Ackerman's drone-like voice gets the better of us, and we succumb to a long-overdue state of sleep.
But it's not a deep one, because we find ourselves opening our eyes again about 15 minutes later. Ackerman is still rambling on, and his speech is now even slower. The drawl is even more pronounced. It's a tool, we realise, which is employed to drive a final nail into the coffin of our wakefulness. For, once he's named all the newest patrons of the podcast individually, his last words are, "Thank you, thanks, and good night." And that is when any temptation to stay awake is drained out of our system, and a delicious, dreamless slumber takes over, broken only by the domestic help who rings the bell much later in the morning.
So, does the podcast achieve what it sets out to do? Yes, it does, though it might have worked better had we not listened to it through our earphones. But is it better than other non-medical sleep-inducing devices? We are not so sure, because in our experience, a full dinner followed by a book in bed does the trick every time. That being said, Ackerman does seem to be on to something. And his novel idea is definitely worthy of a yawn, which, in this case, is in no way an insult, but rather a high compliment.
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