Although it seems counterintuitive, many people find that true crime stories can send them into a slumber. Here’s how it can happen, and why it doesn’t mean you’re a monster if gruesome podcasts and series make you sleepy.
How could you fall asleep when you hear the details of a gruesome crime, when a family member recounts their tragedy, or when you’re dying to know how the investigation went – and most importantly, who the perpetrator was?
When true crime stories put you to sleep, several factors come into play, including the voice and style of the narrator or host, as well as where and when you watch or listen to the show. One reason for getting so sleepy could be the tradition of telling sometimes scary stories to children before bedtime. Feeling relaxed enough to fall asleep can often be a calming result of listening to a true crime story.
If you can’t stay awake during your podcast or show, it may be because of the voice of the speaker or podcaster. Even the most die-hard fans of Dateline Morrison admit that the famous crime correspondent’s “warm and rhythmic baritone” often lulls them to sleep. GQ compares this to the feeling of being “wrapped up under a weighted blanket,” which produces “the same chemical effect on the brain as trying a supermarket head massager.”
It’s easy to understand why people might fall asleep to the story of a hungry little girl breaking into a bear family’s house and eating their oatmeal, but true-crime narrators often recount the details of unimaginable violence.
The phenomenon is perhaps less surprising when you consider the stories children are told when they’re tucked into bed at night – many of which aren’t as harmless as “Goldilocks.”
Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are, for example, is a story about monsters, but children can always fall asleep with that story. They ask for the story!
Usually the monsters are something to be afraid of, but Wild Things shows how to defeat them, how to play with the monsters, how to play in your dreams – like lucid dreaming in a way.
The child hears the story of someone protecting him – his parents, for example.
When you hear about someone else’s worst day, it’s hard to remember what was so terrible about your own life.
It may seem counterintuitive to listen to podcasts about gruesome murders as a sleep aid, but people often listen to them in bed – where they feel safe.
For many people, the bedroom is their sanctuary. So they feel safe listening to these crazy stories … And don’t feel personally threatened by the story. They feel entertained by them.
This seems to confirm a theory shared by Minnie Williams, sister of Beth Williams, host of the Fruitloops True Crime podcast. “You feel safe in a way because you’re sitting in your bed or your chair or whatever listening to something horrible that happened to someone else, and you’re in your own space, very safe.” “And so it’s almost like I’m in a little bubble, and this stuff is out there.”