I’m Reading My Own Articles Aloud As A Sleeping Aid For My Kids
To kids, my stories are kind of boring. But to their brains, those words are like candy.
Over the last few days, one of my kids asked me to read articles from my blog to her at bedtime. I was surprised by her request because I think that most of the stuff that I write about is boring for kids. I also think that some of my writing is not terribly kid-friendly.
It’s an interesting transition to be sure. When they were much younger, I’d read picture books to them. Now they can read books on their own. Lately, they’ve been getting into The Adventures of Tintin. So for me to read anything to my elder daughter, now 6 years old, without any pictures, without seeing what I’m reading is a very interesting turn of events in our bedtime routine.
This stuff works for sleep and now I know why.
I’m 90% deaf in one ear, and 40% deaf in the other. I can have a conversation with a hearing aid on, even without one if you speak clearly and patiently. So I speak loud. Everyone in my family speaks loud. Everyone in my family of origin speaks loud, too. That’s part of the reason why I can put my daughter to sleep with my reading aloud.
You see, years ago, I noticed a curious effect that the sound of human voices has on me. Back then, I worked in a retirement home where once a week, we’d have a staff meeting after lunch. I don’t know why they picked that time for their staff meetings as everyone is digesting lunch, and that makes people sleepy. Including me.
So, I’m in a staff meeting with nurses and maintenance, and I’m one of two or three guys in the whole meeting out of about 30 people. And I’m listening to people talk. I can’t always hear what they say. But I hear most of it. And it’s sort of beating on my eardrum. It’s lulling me to sleep.
Sound is a pressure wave in gas, water or solid. When sound strikes the eardrum, there is a vibration of the eardrum. And my hearing aid makes that sound louder. So when I heard all those people talking in the staff meeting, I’d fall asleep, and when it was my turn, I had to be ready with my report. It was a miracle that I woke up on time, every time. And sometimes I had something funny to say.
That is a part of what is at work in bedtime. I know that the sound of my voice is a sound wave, and that wave has alternating levels of pressure in it. I also know that when I speak, that alternating pressure, the sound of my voice, has a rhythm to it. That is how I know that the sound of my voice has the effect of lulling my kids to sleep. So I’m only too happy to read my blogs to my kids. I just need to use some care in my selection of articles to read.
I’m thinking of a few benefits here that I did not consider before. First, there is vocabulary. Kids with their developing brains are sponges for words. Anytime a new word is heard, their young brains go into overdrive to process the new word. They’re classifying the new word. They’re using the context of the word to determine its meaning. They’re silently asking questions about how that new word could be used in a sentence. All of that takes energy. And the brain uses 10 times more energy than any other part of the body.
The rhythm of my voice can lull my kids to sleep. I’ve done it just talking to them as they fall asleep. Reading a bedtime story has that effect because the language in a bedtime story has a certain cadence, a certain style of speech that is not the way we usually speak in conversation. But for me to read a story from my blog, one that is carefully selected as readable for my kids, that’s different.
Reading my blog stories aloud to my child so that she can sleep has multiple benefits. It will grow her vocabulary. It will gently beat on her eardrums. And since the story is boring to her, she can listen to it like she’d listen to music, and fall asleep.
I don’t think this is going to work for every kid. I’m only reading my blog to my kid by request. This was her idea, not mine, so maybe they’re not so boring to her after all. And yet, over the last few days, she has continued with her requests as she has found some utility with hearing them. She likes my stories enough to fall asleep by, and that is enough for me.