Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Tech: Calm

Lately I've been using Calm, the 800 pound gorilla of wellness apps. It's sort of the 21st century version of those soothing sound machines at Brookstone and The Sharper Image (think white noise, whale songs, and heartbeats). While the price is insanely stiff (a recurring $70 annual subscription or a one-time $400 purchase, though there are often steep discounts), I must admit there is a decent variety of content to help you doze off.

To start with, you get the standard relaxing "soundscapes," things like ocean surf and rain:

Then there are "sleep stories," slow-paced (and intentionally boring) tales designed to lull you to sleep. A lot of these are read by celebrities; my favorite is this one featuring LeVar-freaking-Burton:

For the meditation-focused, the app has "The Daily Calm," a new 10-minute session each day narrated by the hypnotically-voiced Tamara Levitt (Calm's "Head of Mindfulness").

Finally, Calm is updated with ambient and dreamy collaborations with famous musical artists, like Moby and Sigur Rós. I'm partial to the slow violin of Lindsey Stirling's "Lunar Lullaby":

So, is Calm worth it? I guess it depends on how much you value sleep, and how much help you need to get there. The app might be mass-market and overpriced like a Starbucks Frappuccino, but it does what it says on the tin - it couldn't be worse than popping an Ambien, after all.


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