Sleep, Stories and Stuff- the still relevant superpowers of reading

read to sleep
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Change might very well be the only constant in the world but there are certain things in life that don’t even really change, ever. Or they might in their rendition and reception and awareness but the basic premise on which they stand, the ideas, beliefs and essence that are innate to some of such ways of life defy forever the changing tides of time and the transient nature of the mortal human existence. Particularly in prevalence with the human affinity to value certain life experiences and realisation over others, as perhaps now an innate trait of evolutionary beckonings, generations and generations of the homo sapiens have continued to reserve a certain adherence to certain ways in which they go about the most basic routines of life, perhaps as a habit developed from continuing allegiance to certain practices that has been ingrained as ritual into lives or sometimes as even a more deep rooted conditioning of existence itself that indeed has evolved over the ages to today become second nature for us.

Among such continuances of empirical basis that have continued to bound generations of humans with each other, or even more practically persisted as a habit that has been carried well from childhood into the adult life, probably even with somewhat varying implications and underlying essences at times, is a notion of behavior that is not very intrinsic to the functioning of life as and by itself. But in its numerous explorations that we grow on to experience throughout the course of our time here on earth it has effectively aided the pursuit of an all important human- rather, living- necessity. In being a dramatic means of bringing sleep upon our eyes, whether for a squabbling child unwilling to recognise the blessing that bedtime would go on to be in the later years of life or as a much in love teenager unable to ward off ruminations of romantic squirmishes, this universal adherence to an exercise of utmost humility and utter simplicity, which though is also as empirical an addiction of the magical musings that only the world beyond the physical can afford to immerse the mundane worldly existence of our beings, is something that has strived to grant many a human easier access to the sometimes reclusive realms of the peaceful- rather mindless state of sleeping bliss. Quite poignantly, and profoundly as well, this is an attribute pertaining to the rather heady, infinitely magical world of books and book reading that helps lull the human brain to sleep at least as effectively- and paradoxically- as it incites one to stay glued to them till the very last page of their unfurling.

However despite the universal basis by which books and the tales embedded therein act as so potent a means of inducing sleep by triggering the receptive counters of the brain, the fact remains that the mechanism of their working is not exactly identical as far as what we manage to make out of them. As little children whose cognitive abilities are not developed enough to let them indulge simultaneously in the pleasure of reading and the even more blissful pleasure of falling asleep curled up with one in their arms, the effect of this particular aid to sleep rests on yet another related but still exclusive phenomenon, of storytelling, or more appropriately bedtime storytelling. More cultural an exploration of the many ways of life that while is still rooted very evidently and definitely in the psychological premises of it, the art of bedtime storytelling, and simultaneously the science of it as well, resides in a charm that has been a continuing characteristic of civilisations and cultures and traditions throughout human history. Apart from stimulating sleep, there exist a host of associated benefits to bedtime storytelling that is what makes it so integral an exercise of life for almost every parent and child to have found the ground of definitiveness in most familial institutions. But of paramount importance still is the impact that reading before going to bed can have on the human mind, more so for children who do not often recognise bedtime as particularly rewarding a time of their lives. In being a source of distraction, quite surprisingly since stories and reads are expected instead to help find focus, the act of unwinding with a book makes for the perfect setting for sleep to set in, as it helps to divert the subconscious mental dwelling on the activities of the day and creates a nook of comfort for the mind to retreat to, far removed from the fatigue and exertion brought about by a continuous, too hectic working of it. In therefore selectively offsetting the stimuli of the external world by refocussing the brain on a world more dreamy and relaxing and happy, the magic of the reading pursuit takes over the child who gains an insight into the euphoria that the world of books harbours the power to lead them to. While this indeed aids relaxation simply by conjuring up images and ideas related to relaxation and comfort, this exercise in reading also acts in another way upon the young mind who finds this whole parallel world of surreal stimulation an exciting alley to explore, thereby beginning to develop a fantasy for this magical realm of what holds in store so much prospects of the unknown. It indeed then is by letting the magic of stories and tales and books build onto them by means of telling bedtime stories that young kids and children can be made to fall in love with them all the more, forging thereby a lifelong habit of reading in them that is how the evolutionary beginnings of reading on sleep perhaps came into place.

Beyond the dictums of sleep that guides this whole process of parents reading out stories to their children, replete often with dramatic narratives in action and expression for more effective portrayal of the emotions involved, are another set of psychological benefits that lend this whole experience a different dimension. Parent- child bonding is regarded as one of the most important components of relationship that is the key to the development of the young person as a wholesome individual later in life and specifically in the growing years of the child, the more the interactions they have with their parents, the better. Bedtime storytelling proves to be a rather refreshing approach to this notion in consideration, being at once a physical as well as emotional means of bonding. Similarly considerable is the impact this act in passing can have upon the development of the mental faculties of the child. Traditional bedtime stories, think fables and tales with morals imbibed within, are also really gainful means for children to form their own understanding of emotions and in the process develop their intellect, helped further by their pursuit of having to necessarily and subconsciously interpret in images their hearing of the narrative. Of course, language skills and mastery is another very obvious benefit that reading out stories aloud to kids can have on them, as is the development and fostering of their creative faculties.

With therefore an entire world of good to take account of, out of a simple, singular exercise of reading, it’s quite appalling indeed that come adulthood when the digital makes deeper- read catastrophic inroads into our lives, most of us give up on the many absolute joys of reading even while struggling all along to deal with a host of life issues including sleeping difficulties that can be so conveniently corrected by as simple a recourse as that to the pages of a book. Reading any time of the day, any day of the week, any week of the month, any month of the year, any year of your life and any moment of your existence, reduces stress which explains why curling up in bed with a book to lose yourself in is just the panacea to all of life’s woes. And with woes gone and the mind free and the body relaxed, momentarily maybe, it isn’t much difficult to let yourself seek solace in the warm embraces of sleep. Bedtime reading helps even adults because in its simultaneous affordance of the bliss of distraction and the luxury of focus, reading does indeed stimulate the imagination for an altered state of consciousness where it is all the more easy for your brain to disconnect from the stressful events of the day. More physically, reading induces also a relaxed pace of breathing by easing your muscles helping your mind to calm down and focus more on the primal activities like sleep so conducive to the continuance of life. As an explanation that would be more reflective of the modern ways of the world, reading a book helps with your sleep cycle to set in more efficiently because it does not emit the blue light of your devices and gadgets, something that settling instead with a Kindle will therefore hamper your chances of. Plus it makes you smarter indeed as the chances of your brain retaining the information acquired gets a boost when you drift off to sleep immediately after reading because it will still be delicately but surely processing all that information, without interfering the sleep that will be taking over you courtesy the mind relaxed sufficiently by this traditional mode of relaxing.

The benefits that bedtime reading can have on the more important bedtime goal of sleeping and the extended goodness it brings into life by virtue of that end makes it so emphasised a process in regaining human mastery over the art of sleep that it has come to be particularly explored in more recent times through such means that take recourse to the era of the digital to reap its amazing powers. With more and more dependence on this same set of digital modernisation, it only is inevitable that even something as physical and traditional as bedtime reading, or bedtime storytelling should find a fresh perspective that while might seem too technical to be good is however a richly rewarding experience indeed. Sleep storytelling is the term that explains this harnessing of the power of stories to induce sleep in increasingly sleep deprived humans by certain mindfulness apps that are all the rage today in the ambit of the hectically disruptive lifestyles we have been moulding ourselves into. This form of bedtime storytelling however is a bit more science, taking into account all such considerations of being built on a premise that strikes a balance between being too stimulating and too distracting so as to achieve once again the end result of sleep. The vocabulary is also played out such that caters to the science that leads the human brain to condition itself into a position of dozing away, with words carefully chosen to not be ones that have an underlying aggressive or not very pleasant tone to them. Equally adept is the flair with which the narrative flows, even as the settings created tend to be one brought to life by soothing details of the sensory that can help in making the transition from a stressful situation dwelling almost on the hinge as an uncomfortable insomniac to one that is sufficiently relaxed to have sleep descend upon first the mind and then the eyes. At play also is a whole world of other settings, that dwell on other mindfulness techniques like guided meditations, breathing exercises et al to slowly but surely make for an experience of sleep that is as blissful as can be. Whatever the means and mannerisms of it all though, reading one’s way to sleep or better still, being read one’s way to a deep slumber is one of the definite pleasures of life that no generation will ever be able yo do without. And all in a good night’s stead for sure!


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