Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Beyond The Wall of Sleep 3

The link between bad sleep and Alzheimers makes insomnia a clear and present danger to the human race. Below are the contents of emails I send out to friends who have trouble sleeping - it has worked for me for years and it works for most of them too.

See previous posts on this

Spoken Audio for Sleep

I’m often recommending the effectiveness of using podcasts to get back to sleep, and how they need to be a strange combination of interesting enough to stop you thinking at 3am and boring enough to send back to sleep. I find that something with a single speaker on a non-e motive subject is good. Podcast discussions are ok up they are upbeat, lousy if they are full of unexpected jingles, ads and music.

Vital aspect to you is that it has to be interesting enough to gauge your attention. If your mind wanders onto areas that you shouldn't be thinking about..

- and in my experience no conclusion reached 2.30am-6.30am is worth a damn -

..the audio you are listening to is useless and you should find something else

Audio books

Here is a brilliant resource - free classic audio novels read by volunteers
I suggest an uncomplicated unabridged reassuring old classic, maybe start on Kipling's Man Who Would Be King (not too long) then some H Rider Haggard. Like Sherlock Holmes? How about AC Doyles Lost World?
 Worth mentioning a friend just listens to the BBC Lord of The Rings every night to go to sleep on an iPod, and has been doing that every night for at least two years. I've been suggesting to his wife that she dress up as a Balrog and surprise him to see if this is having any long term effect but so far she isn't convinced (though as an inquisitive Persian with a scientific background I think her curiosity will get the better of her before long)


My current favourites

When Diplomacy Fails Podcast

which has a single upbeat speaker on a vaguely interesting subject

Pritzker Military Podcast

My perennial favourites

Dan Carlin (both)*

Guardian Football weekly*

MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show*

Best Of the Left*

(*All of the above have gotten so good I save them for when I'm awake)

Serious snooze favourites

Anything from BBC Radio 4 is good to fall asleep to
ESPN FC Soccer show
Note - NPR is even more soporific and sleepy than Radio4 ....somehow I find it easier to fall asleep listening to Americans - maybe because subconsciously I think they are all fictional creations :-)

and  moving into
the class A drugs of sleep inducing podcasts

- Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time
- of which actually I'm a huge fan!
At the tail end of my horror weekend in wintery storm ripped Tangiers I was only saved by Melvyn Bragg and co.
<I'll be brief>
Storms meant the only return to Gibraltar was from a Morrocan container port 50 miles down the North African coast, aboard a half a century old ex-scandinavian ferry (ABBA era decour was past its best) in the heaviest seas I ever want to see. It was like living The Poseidon Adventure with the original interiors from The Golden Shot. Nightmarish, and only a stack of In Our Time on my Ipod got me through it.
I'll type up the words written after the Tangiers trip when I recover - though its two years and counting so don't hold your breath.
IOT is a National Treasure.

and finally from 2011, again part of my Gibraltar coping strategy

I believe I have found the ultimate example of Podcasts for sleep, in the latest and greatest episode of ‘The History Network.’ I’ve mentioned this podcast before as a great combination of an incredibly dull, boring man trying to explain the potentially interesting. If Melvin Bragg’s In Our Time podcast is (usually) a sleeping pill, the History Network is a full course of Rhino tranquilisers.

The latest episode could be the ultimate example of the form. “A History of The Rocket Troop” is a description of how the British army started using large primitive rockets to fire at people in the middle of hectic environments (Battle of Waterloo) long before they were safe or practical to do so. How could that not be interesting? How could anything with ‘Rocket’ in the title be not interesting enough to keep you awake?

It seems impossible, but the sonorous military podcast historian manages to start with just enough detail to stop you thinking about life at 3am, before strangling the subject dead with dull military lists of postings long after you have sailed into the black velvety comfort of sleep. I swear I woke an hour later in a foetal position sucking my thumb.

Final note on classic audio books to sleep to - HP Lovecraft (even the Dreamlands) is not good and Poe is a complete no-no!

Pics are from the much loved Chaosium table top game


  1. Check out podiobooks.com while you are at it. I find the "Share" series by Nathan Lowell particularly good at lulling me to sleep, I think it's his voice.

  2. Check out podiobooks.com while you are at it. I find the "Share" series by Nathan Lowell particularly good at lulling me to sleep, I think it's his voice.