Last year, during a stretch of anxious nights, I stumbled upon an app that offered to help me fall into a deep and restful sleep. It would do this by, essentially, programming my phone to lull me into unconsciousness. Now, every night, I crawl into bed and scroll aimlessly through my phone in the dark until I have exhausted all of its mindless distractions — email, Instagram, a virtual wooden-block puzzle. Then I open one last app. My phone speaks to me for 20 minutes, and then for a very long time.

The voice in the phone is a woman’s, which I like. I don’t need some man telling me what to do. Her tone is gentle and optimistic. It sounds like she is smiling as she speaks. Her words are crisp and clear, but they are softened, almost slurred around the edges, as if she is delicately easing me into each sentence and then releasing me back into silence. Her “ands” are so subdued that they are nearly implied. Sometimes she pauses for long stretches at a time, and that is wonderful, too.

The voice tells me to do things — to — but I have listened to the exact same recording so many times now that it barely registers as instruction. It’s more like she’s administering some kind of sound tranquilizer. The app is a “sleep and meditation” service called Calm, and it costs $69.99 a year. It’s been downloaded more than 52 million times.


For several weeks, I tapped into Calm at night without thinking much about what I was doing. The whole point of the recording was for me to focus on the voice — not on the meta implications of enlisting my smartphone to spark a Para social relationship with a stranger whom I now require to fulfill a core human need. But soon I began to wonder who was whispering into my brain every night. Ours is a strangely intimate relationship. Hers is the last voice that I hear before I go to sleep. She speaks to me past the point that I am even aware that I am hearing anything.

One night, as I prepared to start the recording, I noticed her name. Narrator: Author: Tamara Levitt. As I explored the app further, I discovered that she had written and recorded hundreds of meditations. Her voice can guide a person through depression, loneliness, eating and commuting. There are sessions specifically designed to speak into your ear as you’re walking down the street.

I Googled her and clicked through photos of her smiling easily on a rocky beach, her hair tousled in the wind. I read the awed user comments that unspooled beneath Calm’s YouTube page and percolated across social media. Fans call Levitt’s voice “marvelous,” “hypnotic” and “somehow magic.” One user said that her voice “has helped heal my brain “I’d probably end up buying three insurance policies and a Snuggie before snapping out of it.”

Look. Where’s all this going? Who knows? Why not just get a goodnights sleep. Come on down to the organic mattress store or visit us online at  or call us at 1-484-851-3636.