Harry Styles reading a bedtime story crashed Calm app. Here's why it's soothing to be read to by celebrities

Korin Miller
·4 min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY  11: In this photo illustration, the wellness and meditation app 'Calm' is seen on a mobile phone on January 11, 2021 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Edward Smith/Getty Images)
Celebrities have partnered with apps, like Calm, to create soothing bedtime meditations and sleep stories to help blissfully lull you to sleep. (Photo by Edward Smith/Getty Images)

Preparing for sleep with a bedtime reading is practically a tradition for kids. But, as an adult, you're left to your own devices to wind down. While you could read a book to yourself, it doesn't quite have the same effect. Enter celebrities.

Stars have partnered with apps to create soothing bedtime meditations and sleep stories to help blissfully lull you to sleep. In July, singer Harry Styles launched a bedtime story called Dream with Me on Calm, joining actor Matthew McConaughey and singer Kelly Rowland, who also have sleep stories on the meditation and sleep app.

A Calm spokesperson tells Yahoo Life that the tales by Styles and McConaughey are two of the company's most popular Sleep Stories to date. "The feedback for both stories has been overwhelmingly positive," the spokesperson said. "When we launched Harry Styles’ story in July, it was so popular, that his fans crashed the app on launch day."

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

But they're not the only stars getting the sleep story game. Chris Hemsworth has guided meditations on his fitness app, Centr, too. Audible has a whole range of celebrity-driven sleep meditations and stories, including Diddy's meditation, "Honor Yourself," and Nick Jonas's bedtime story, "The Perfect Swing."

Many of these stories have become wildly popular but...why? Experts say there are a few things at play.

At a basic level, it can be soothing to be read to "because it's an act of care, and interpersonal connection, which is a basic human drive," Kristen E. Riley, an assistant professor and psychologist at the Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, tells Yahoo Life. "Being read to is desirable, even after we know how to read, perhaps in part because it activates our imagination," she says.

While there isn't a lot of research on this, bedtime stories "help smooth the transition from daytime wakefulness and the go-go-go to quiet the mind for sleep," Dr. Noah S. Siegel, director of the Sleep Medicine and Surgery Division at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, tells Yahoo Life. People who have trouble falling asleep can be impacted by a range of things like alcohol, caffeine and stress, and "anything you can do, be it the right lighting, temperature or hearing a story, are all ways to transition to bedtime," he says.

"It's not necessarily about read to as much as it is moving away from those types of activities that keep your mind busy, so you can settle down and get to sleep," Dr. Michael Awad, chief of sleep surgery at Northwestern Medicine, tells Yahoo Life.

But there may be some level of nostalgia at play. It's possible that being read to "shores up soothing childhood memories," Riley says, noting that "reminiscing, especially in difficult times, has been shown to be a useful coping tool against stress."

As for why celebrity-led stories are such a popular pick, it has to do with a sense of intimacy. "A lot of research shows that celebrities feel very familiar," Riley says. "Celebrities feel like familiar peers who we look to for social cues and inspiration." Not only that, she says, hearing a recognizable voice can feel comforting and soothing.

Many people feel that they can trust certain celebrities, adding to the feeling of calm when you hear their voice, Siegel says. And, there's also this to consider, he says: "Many stars are great storytellers and are super polished."

"If a celebrity, especially an actor, knows the purpose of their story is to ease someone off to sleep, they're going to do a way better job than I would," Siegel points out.

If you're interested in picking out a bedtime app or meditation, experts say it's best to simply opt for one that seems the most calming to you. Then, try it out. "Find one that you like that seems to work well for you," Riley says. Whether it's read by Harry Styles, Diddy, or Kelly Rowland is ultimately up to you.

Read more from Yahoo Life:

Want lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.