"... emulating the peripatetic workings of the dreaming mind. But, when I asked sleep experts if that sounded plausible, they dismissed the idea. Milena Pavlova, a neurologist in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, warned that, if the podcast was prolonging my slide from wakefulness to sleep—during which it’s possible to have fragmentary dreams—it might even be harming my rest. Even the doctors who saw nothing wrong with the podcast considered it, at best, 'a Band-Aid,' in the words of Rafael Pelayo, a clinical professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine. Distracting a racing mind, they insisted, was no substitute for ameliorating it through better sleep hygiene: limiting caffeine, alcohol, and screen time, and soothing anxious thoughts through meditation or circumscribed list-making before hitting the bedroom, which is reserved for 'sleep and intimacy' only. But Ackerman, who has struggled with insomnia since childhood, thinks the podcast may work, in part, because it isn’t prescriptive like a doctor’s orders—which present insomniacs with yet another opportunity for failure. The podcast 'is there, but you don’t have to fall asleep,' he said. 'There’s not a right or wrong way to use the show.'"
Writes Nora Caplan-Bricker in The New Yorker.
I had not heard of this podcast before, but I have used audiobooks to fall asleep for more than 20 years. I'd have a problem using Drew Ackerman's "Sleep with Me" podcast because it ends after an hour or 2, and I know I wake up if the speaking ends. But I think the idea for the podcast is great and I'm sure it helps many people. I'm annoyed by the doctors arguing that this approach to falling asleep isn't as good as other things like meditation.
Having a lot of interesting thoughts flowing through your brain isn't a problem. It's a good thing! It gets in the way of sleep, so you need something to displace it. A recorded voice supplying something that's like your own thoughts relieves the brain of its natural habit of producing thoughts. In the passive, receiving position, you fall asleep.
Why cut off your thoughts the hard way, with meditation, which is getting the brain to cut off its own thoughts (or to stop paying attention to its thoughts)? I'm happy preserving my own brain's tendency to produce continually interesting thoughts and to use the trick of an audiobook to switch off the thoughts to sleep.
To me, the doctor sounds puritanical (and not a little self interested). And, by the way, I have used the iPhone app Headspace and am familiar with the sleep meditation routine. I ended up not wanting to spend my time doing that with my mind. It was solving a nonproblem.