First Nations Stories for Sleep

Be gently carried off to sleep by First Nations storytellers with the new audio sleep series, Dreamy. First Nations led non-for-profit Common Ground has partnered with Snapchat to create this collection of magical sleep stories. It is a five part collaborative series that brings together Indigenous artists, writers, poets and filmmakers. Today, we all sleep under the same stars First Nations people have told stories beneath for millennia. Dreamy provides a way of connecting to country and culture through soothing stories (Common Ground, 2021).

Dreamy. Courtesy of Common Ground, 2021.

Common Ground is an organisation that amplifies First Nations’ voices through cultural strengthening projects that harness the power of storytelling. Dreamy encapsulates this mission, creating new ways of sharing Indigenous knowledge, storytelling and creativity with the rest of the world. The idea behind Dreamy was sparked after its creators took a look at the 2016 Australian Reconciliation Barometer. The research found the majority of Australians believe it's important to learn First Nations history, yet less than 42% say they have a high level of knowledge of this history. Dreamy is designed to share this missing knowledge and also help Australians deal with their sleeping problems (ABC, 2021). 

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a huge toll on everyone's sleep quality. Nearly half of respondents in a global study by Australian experts reporting poor sleep (Sydney Morning Herald, 2020). In particular, young people through COVID-19 have been experiencing higher levels of stress and as such poor sleep quality. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, people aged between 18 and 35 are experiencing negative effects on their mental health, as many people turn to their screens for comfort. Dreamy provides a way of unplugging from our screens and connecting with stories of this beautiful country (NIT, 2021). 

Living Echos by Carmen Glynn-Braun. Courtesy of Common Ground.

Each story is accompanied by music, sounds of nature and illustrations, with gentle animations. The artworks are by Arrernte, Kaytetye and Anmatyerre artist, Carmen Glynn-Braun. Psychologist Greta Bradman was also brought onboard to help bring the project to life. In an interview with Broadsheet, Bradman (2020) talks about how the stories create a truly immersive experience: 

“The use of the voice along with sounds that really embed the listener in the place they’re taken to make for an immersive experience. All up, these stories offer a wonderful way of helping elicit a state of calm and relaxation in preparation for sleep.”

To create this series, Dreamy has collaborated with six First Nations storytellers. These storytellers include: Wirdajuri woman Jazz Money, Arrernte and Jamaican woman Aurora Liddle-Christie, Bundjalung man Dakota Feirer, Torres Strait Island woman Ghenoa Gela and Goenpul/Yagerabul/Minjungbul Bundjalung woman Dr. Romaine Moreton. Dakota Feirer is an established storyteller and poet, and for this project he created the story Living Echos. In an interview with NIT, Feirer (2021) expressed the importance of sharing words and language through these stories:

“I feel that a lot of the words we use today, they lose meaning. But by slowing down, we realise how powerful language and words are – I think that is what our Old People knew.”

Moon Holds Water by Carmen Glynn-Braun. Courtesy of Common Ground, 2021.

Dr Romaine Moreton’s story Moon Holds Water recounts her childhood in Fingal Head. The beautiful slow spoken story, accompanied by the soothing sounds of crashing waves, creates a relaxing sleep-inducing experience (Broadsheet, 2021). 

If you’ve been struggling to get a decent night's sleep recently and are looking to unplug and relax, we highly recommend giving these beautiful stories a listen. Let the Dreamy stories take you on a journey, while also learning about First Nations culture and connecting with the country through sound. You can access the Dreamy stories online, or via Spotify or Apple Podcasts