• ellengulson

The other man in my bed….

You thought this was a co-sleeping article, didn’t you? Well its’ not. But don’t get too excited, nor is it an x-rated article NSFW. It’s actually about a strange habit that I developed during my 2nd pregnancy to combat pregnancy insomnia, which has stuck with me for a long time now. Its fairly embarrassing, but recent google searches have led me to believe its not as uncommon as I thought.

Hello, my name is Ellen and I am addicted to listening to Stephen Fry narrate things in order to fall asleep. Specifically, I listen to him narrating the Harry Potter books. Yes, I am a fully grown woman who listens to children’s stories, but hear me out. The idea of listening to something whilst you fall asleep is nothing new. Plenty of people have listened to recordings of the ocean or white noise for years. There are whole sections of baby stores dedicated to these little machines. Others swear by listening to the radio or reading a book. More recently people have gotten into listening to apps like calm and podcasts like https://www.sleepwithmepodcast.com whose whole business is based on helping people to get to sleep. As someone who has always struggled to turn my brain off to go to sleep, I feel like I’ve tried everything over the years. But I always found one of two things would happen; either the thing I was listening to wasn’t interesting enough to drown out my circular and unhelpful thoughts, or it was so interesting that I would want to stay awake to listen.

Enter Stephen Fry. As a long-time reader and lover of the Harry Potter books, I knew the stories pretty well, so there is nothing new when I listen to them. They are predictable and safe. And the content, excepting a few scenes of M15+ wizardly death and destruction, is largely uplifting and positive. When I pop those headphones in and start to listen, I find the perfect balance of content which will distract my mind from my anxieties, whilst not being so stimulating as to keep me awake. And to top it all off, Stephen Fry has one of the most calming and reassuring voices for narration.

I guess that I’ve now listened to these books hundreds of times each. They have gotten me through night feeds, and anxious waits in hospital with sick or injured children. They have soothed me when my brain wanted to stay up all night worrying about Covid 19 or finances or moves across the country. I owe hundreds of hours of sleep to this wonderful, albeit often troubled, British actor and personality, as well as J.K. Rowlings’ fantastical story. Stephen, you will never read this, but thank you. I am a better mum because you give me the gift of sleep and get my out of my own head.

I suppose all I’m trying to say with this post, is that we all find our own ways of getting through the stresses of motherhood, and if some of them are slightly unconventional then that’s ok. You do you. And if anyone needs someone for a Harry Potter trivia team, I’m your gal ;-)

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