Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sleeping with Comedy Podcasts

I have never been good at sleeping. I used to have a lot of trouble falling asleep at the beginning of the night and then falling back asleep when I woke up during the night.

But listening to stand-up comedy podcasts has made a big improvement for me.

Over the past two years, I've acquired a large collection of podcasts. I've got people talking about current issues, recommendations on tools, descriptions of cognitive bias, Vinyl Café stories, all sorts of stuff. But it's the stand-up comedy that works best for me.

I think the comedy works because it's entertaining enough that I don't have the stupid thoughts that keep me awake, thinking about what I have to do the next day or what I should have said to someone earlier, and I can fall asleep because each joke is only a minute or two long. If I wake up during the night and can't fall back asleep even after listening to 20 minutes or an hour, at least I'm feeling entertained and not anxious that I'm not sleeping.

Stories don't seem to help me fall asleep. I love the Vinyl Café stories, but I want to hear the whole story too much.

There are a number of comedy podcasts out there. The ones I like best are from the CBC's Laugh Out Loud. They run 28 minutes and feature one to three comics. I'm getting to know them well and like them all. There is a great selection of comics with strong material. They're all recordings of live performances in Canada, so most of the comics are Canadian.

I really can't say enough about how much I like Laugh Out Loud. The selection of comics reflect Canada's diversity. There's a tremendous amount of openness, affection and kindness in their humour. Technically, the editing is seamless and the sound recording is impeccable.

This means that when I hear someone I like, there's a good chance I can see that person perform here in Ottawa, and usually for a ridiculously small ticket price. And now if I find myself in another city looking for something to do, there's a good chance I'll be able to see someone terrific.

Here are the mechanics of how I listen to the podcasts:
  1. I save the podcasts to the hard drive on my computer.
  2. Every couple of weeks, I copy the podcast files to my smart phone. Before I had the smart phone, I copied them to a tablet.
  3. At night, I put on a set of light-weight Bluetooth earbuds that have an eight-hour battery life. (I'm using Skullcandy Ink'd Wireless, they're comfortable while I sleep and the audio is good. I'm told the microphone makes me echo-ey when I use them for phoning, so I don't use them for phoning.)
  4. I play the podcasts using the free version of MediaMonkey. I usually set the sleep timer for 20 minutes. Most nights I'm probably asleep before 10 minutes go by, but if I'm not, it's nice not to have to start it up again.
  5. If I wake up, I start the player again for another 20 minutes. Maybe backing up to where it was around when I fell asleep.

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