Why More And More Adults Are Being Told Bedtime Stories

Sleep health is a multi-billion industry and unsurprisingly, smartphone technology has cut itself a hardy piece of the pie.

A quick search through the app store will provide countless programs designed to track our sleep, improve our sleep and-- to combat an increasingly common problem-- put us to sleep.

You can nod off listening to a guided meditation, a vast collection of sleep sounds designed to create a relaxing ambience, or even more recently, be read an adult bedtime story.

Not to be confused with simply listening to an audiobook, these stories are written and narrated with the sole purpose of lulling listeners to sleep.

Calm is just one of the meditation and mindfulness apps which offers these stories -- which they call Sleep Stories.

In the past 12 months alone, the app's creators say Australians have listened to 3.3 million bedtime tales.

As for why this type of sleep aid has become a popular option for those suffering from sleep-related disorders, Dr Delwyn Bartlett, a clinical associate professor with the University of Sydney, said the appeal is two-fold.

"There’s the content [of the story]," she told 10 daily.

"Then there’s also the fact that there’s a distraction that takes you away from whatever the concern or the worry is, or just the fact that you’re worried about not sleeping or you’re worried about what will happen tomorrow if you don’t sleep.”

Bedtime stories are no longer reserved for children, and have undergone a bit of a revamp since you were a kid. Image: Getty

READ MORE: None Of Us Are Getting Enough Sleep And Here's How To Fix It

Inadequate sleep, of either duration or quality, affects almost 40 percent of Australian adults, according to 2017 Sleep Health Foundation report.

It's a costly and even dangerous problem.

The financial cost of inadequate sleep each year is estimated to be $26.2 billion, including health costs and the loss of productivity.  When you add the loss of wellbeing, the number rockets to more than $66 billion.

Meanwhile, a lack of sleep has been attributed to a large proportion of accidental deaths, including car accidents and industrial accidents, in Australia.

Adult bedtime stories aimed at combating the issue have become their own industry, with the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Stephen Fry and even our own Bindi Irwin, lending their silky vocal tones to the art.

READ MORE: Dreams Do Come True -- Matthew McConaughey Can Now Talk You To Sleep

"Well hello there," Matthew McConaughey begins his story, Wonder, on the Calm app.

Why bedtime stories work for some is incredibly individual, Dr Bartlett said, and sensory aspects including the reading voice can certainly be a factor.

It's A Step Towards Falling Asleep Unaided

Dr Bartlett said if people have found listening to these nighttime tales beneficial to their ability to fall asleep, it's by all accounts a positive thing, but the ultimate goal should still be learning how to relax before sleep.

"Whatever we use, whether we’ve used tapes or we’ve used CDs or anything in the past, the most important thing is to be able to learn from it so you can use it without having to have that as a necessary part of your ability to go to sleep,” she explained.

“Distractions are very helpful for short periods of time, whereas really what you would like long term is that individuals develop their own way of slowing down and maybe its bits and pieces of all sorts of things.”