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What it's like Sleeping in a Tent Dangling from a Cliff

What it's like Sleeping in a Tent Dangling from a Cliff

This sleep extremist wants her adventures to be your bedtime stories, through a mindfulness and meditation smartphone app.

A more traditional writer would want to keep you on the edge of your seat, but not this one. Phoebe Smith wants to send you to sleep – literally. She’s the first official sleep storyteller-in-residence for a mindfulness and meditation app. She’s accepted the challenge of sleeping in glaciers and while dangling off of U.K. monuments.

Smith knows the true value of a good night’s sleep, whether it’s spent in her own bed or hanging off of a cliff. One big problem many of us have with sleeping, she says, is that we simply can’t turn our brains off at the end of the day.

“When I’m home in bed, there’s much more to keep me awake—deadlines, phone calls to make the next day, emails to answer.” That’s why Smith can sleep well in extreme conditions: With the clutter of daily home life removed, she can focus on her safety and her surroundings and—voila—she’s asleep.

When she sets out to write her bedtime stories for grown-ups, it’s not about boring people to sleep. “You’re actually really interested in the story,” she says. “There’s something quite exciting or arresting that pulls people in, but anything dramatic has to happen in those first two paragraphs and then everything else has to happen slowly, exposing people to a place. It’s sort of taking people on a journey, but it’s really all about the journey. It’s meandering, it’s using the soothing words and kind of winding down.”

Her personal favorite sleep story, Blue Gold, takes sleepers to the lazy villages and lavender fields of the South of France in a zigzagging tale narrated by Emmy winner Stephen Fry. With the average listener drifting off within five to 10 minutes of turning on her sleep stories, she must be snoozing something right.

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