What Is It: "Dream with Me," a new sleep story narrated by Harry Styles on the meditation app Calm.
Who Tried It: Michele Corriston, senior news editor
I was never a One Direction stan. In college, my sorority sisters papered our bedroom walls with posters of the floppy-haired lads, but I was too mature for boy bands. Too worldly, having travelled all the way from suburban New Jersey to suburban Chicago for my education. I appreciated the Taylor Swift of it all (“I Knew You Were Trouble” still slaps), but their music didn’t move me. Six years later, the music video for “Lights Out” changed everything. I got it. Harry Styles is ineffably sexy! And talented — “Watermelon Sugar” is the song of this socially distanced summer, and I adore “Adore You.” So when Calm partnered with my favorite gender-bending pop rocker, I had to give his sleep story, “Dream with Me,” a go.
I’ve been a Calm subscriber for almost a year, having signed up with the intention to meditate daily (LOL). That noble pursuit was quickly abandoned, but I still crank up the bedtime stories whenever I’m having trouble catching some ZZZs. (I also suffer from night terrors, but that is, quite literally, another story.) My issue with Calm is there isn’t much new content, especially if you favor the fairy tales of the fiction section. I was delighted to slip on my sleep mask/ear buds combo and select “Dream with Me,” burrowing down into the blankets and clearing my mind as Harry requested. What followed, though, I could never anticipate: Harry Styles putting my real relationship at peril as he lulled me to sleep with promises of a story-book romance with which no human male can compete.
To state the obvious: Harry’s voice is dreamy. He should narrate every story on Calm. Re-record them all! Take my money. There is nothing more beautiful than the dulcet tones of his British whispers. “Dream with Me” began with Harry asking me to picture a dark night sky, then fill it with stars. The whole story rhymed, with Shakespearean lines such as, “The power of the universe meanders through your mind / So come with me and let’s see what the two of us can find.” Okay, Harry, I thought, readjusting my pillow, preparing to slip asleep. Let’s go. String music accompanied the journey, during which “dew drops” occasionally would “kiss our cheeks / small pleasures quenching needs.” Hm. Harry and I held hands, strolled and came upon a brook. It was lovely! I actually found my breath slowing, my mind wandering along, slumber tugging at my brain. It was working! “The word we think but dare not speak,” Harry told me, “Is l-o-v-e, love.”
Hold on. Harry Styles was trying to seduce me! In a very vulnerable state, no less. This was moving too fast. Suddenly I became all too aware of my boyfriend’s snoozing form beside me, innocently oblivious to the half-conscious emotional cheating happening in my head. I soldiered on, trying to remain, as the app suggests, calm. Until Harry said this: “Now we snuggle on a raft … “
I erupted into uncontrollable giggles, ripping my headphones off. My boyfriend shot up and asked what had happened; I confessed my unintentional sins.
The Verdict: Harry has the talent for narrating bedtime stories, but how is being hit on by a heartthrob in a picturesque forest in any way relaxing? It’s … stimulating. The conceit behind this product is all wrong; it’s more steamy than sleepy. For the record, my boyfriend’s review is this: “I feel like f—ing Harry Styles got in bed with us last night, and I did not invite him into our home.”
Harry Styles Premieres New 'Watermelon Sugar' Music Video 'Dedicated to Touching'
Who Tried It: Lindy Segal, contributing lifestyle editor
After having the free version the Calm app for a while, I recently upgraded to the premium version when pandemic-related anxiety started affecting my sleep. Thanks to the blended soundtrack of my window A/C unit and the ambient sounds of N.Y.C., I've taken to the app's wordless, white noise options (one favorite: "Twilight to Moonlight," which is just thirty-one minutes of nature sounds under the guise of a sleep story). But listening to Harry was an offer I couldn't refuse; in another universe, I would have been at his Madison Square Garden concert the week it dropped, so this feels like the universe's consolation prize.
I was warned before listening that the story is, shall we say, intimate, so I mentally prepared myself for a spoken-word version of "Watermelon Sugar." (Calm's description for the story says "Fall asleep and fall in love with the dreamy voice of Harry Styles," so they know what they're doing.) But what I got was more reserved than expected: Harry softly read the poem over a slow, romantic score that instantly soothed my soul, and — since I can't remember it ending — I believe actually helped me fall asleep.
Although the writing is definitely sexier than any other sleep story in the library, it's also not "Calm After Dark." Instead, it reads like a letter in a modern-day Jane Austen PBS adaptation, where you are the heroine. And yes, it rhymes, but I found it hypnotizing rather than distracting (another testament to Harry's dreamy voice).
The Verdict: Gentle, soothing, and worth listening to, whether you're a Harry Styles stan or not. @calm, can we get an encore?
Uplifting Each Other Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
Who Tried It: Andrea Wurzburger, features writer
I used to meditate a ton while I was in graduate school. I found that a five-minute meditation session before bed would clear my mind and make it easier to sleep, but once I broke my nightly habit, I returned to my usual routine of lying in the dark remembering that awkward thing I did when I was 9 years old until I eventually drifted off.
As someone who has been having an especially hard time sleeping lately (LOL, thank you worldwide pandemic) and who has also seen her TikTok algorithm slowly be taken over by Harry Styles fan videos (I don't know how this happened, I swear), it felt like this meditation was a sign that maybe I needed to chill the heck out with Harry Styles? Either that, or it’s possible the tiny FBI agent in my computer has been listening in on my conversations and got in touch with the kind people at Calm, but I digress.
I am not a Harry stan by any means, but I've got to admit he's charming on any regular day, let alone when his voice fills my headphones and talks about us walking hand in hand or snuggling together on a raft. The recording itself is both soothing and, yes, sexy. I'd find myself drifting off and suddenly hear "Somehow now, we're in a cabin, taking in this view, as a fire crackles in the corner, just for me and you" and suddenly I'd be thinking about whether or not Harry would prefer a small or large wedding and whether it's okay with him if we get married in September because I don't want to be a sweaty bride. Okay, maybe I've just been single for too long. (But Harry, if you're reading this, can you please let me know if you think New Year's Eve weddings are tacky?)
In a purely technical sense, Harry's voice and accent is very soothing, and the poem made me feel like I was falling asleep under a giant tree on my large English estate.
The Verdict: Watching his interviews on late night talk shows isn't going to do the trick: just give in and listen to this meditation.
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