Storytelling and Sleep

Bedtime stories have long been used to soothe people to sleep – but how long have they been around, and why are they so effective?

TEMPUR® investigates the history of storytelling and its connection to sleep.

The art of storytelling

Storytelling is a key skill we learn from a young age and has long been a pivotal part of our society and culture. Stories existed long before we had the ability to write and pass on information in books and letters.

People would gather round the storyteller in their clan to listen to stories of myths, legends, power, love and adventures. The same stories were passed on from generation to generation, or visitors would take the tales home with them, embellishing and adding to them to create new variations.

Today we are able to write information down; however, the echoes of the storytelling tradition are still present in some areas of our culture; for example, when parents read bedtime stories for kids to get them to sleep.

Stories and sleep

As well as being something to help children get to sleep more quickly, there are other benefits to bedtime stories.

Today, many children are provided with TV shows or video games for entertainment, whereas in the past they were encouraged to read, leading some to fear that reading is a dying tradition in families. However, reading to children from a young age has been shown to improve their literacy and language skills at school and also inspire a love of reading that will continue throughout their life. There is no right age to start reading to a child – you can even start from birth.

Reading bedtime stories also strengthens the bond between parent and child and is something for both to look forward to at the end of a long day. Children associate them with the soothing sound of their parents’ voices and a feeling of being secure, loved and safe. With any luck, the best bedtime stories will send kids off to sleep in no time!

Finally, bedtime stories are a great way to implement a good sleep routine. If your child associates a story with going to sleep, they will be more likely to settle down without a fuss each night.

Sleep tips

If you are struggling to sleep at night, or have a child who is, these are some of our top sleep tips.

The first way to get a better night’s rest is to implement a no electronics rule before bedtime. The blue light emitted by screens will keep anyone up late, children and adults alike, and creates an unhealthy sleep routine. Instead of watching TV or playing video games, try reading a book instead. Your favourite bedtime stories could do the trick.

Secondly, make your bedroom a peaceful haven. Fresh sheets, pillows and a soft mattress will all help you to feel more restful and drift off to sleep in no time.

Next, try to wind down gradually before bedtime to get your mind and body in the mood for sleep. This means avoiding caffeine, including coffee, tea and cola. Taking a bath will help you to relax, or lighting some comforting candles around your bedroom.

Finally, maintaining a good sleep routine is key. Going to sleep and waking up at the same times each day is a fantastic way to feel more energised. For kids who have school in the morning, encourage them to do the same, and try to stick to this routine even at weekends.


Do you read your children bedtime stories? What do you like to read before bed? Let us know in the comments below…

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