Falling asleep to Forensic Files: When crime shows become bedtime stories

alt="woman sleeping" Falling asleep to true crime shows (Image: Sandhya Raghavan)

I return to bed every night a tired, defeated, weary woman with no motivation for the day in the offing. But there is one thing I look forward to — the silky smooth voice of Peter Thomas narrating stories of heinous crimes. For the initiated, Thomas is the voice behind Forensic Files, a crime show that has achieved cult status in the age of OTTs. It’s the voice I fall asleep to every night, and I am not the only one. Like many others, I too belong to a growing niche of women who fall asleep to true crime podcasts and shows.

A few days ago, I put up an Instagram story:

“Things that keep me up at night — Cold cases.

Things that put me right to sleep — The soothing sounds of true crime documentaries.”

What followed were messages from women: “LOL! Same girl!”

Now I know that true crime has an overwhelming fan following among women. What I didn’t expect was the number of women falling asleep to it. There are whole Reddit threads dedicated to the sleep-inducing properties of true crime shows.

My husband, who has watched my vocation grow from a true-crime fascination to a full-blown addiction, is confused like many other men.

From time immemorial, romance was the only genre associated with women. Well, the world pegged us wrong. Women are voracious consumers of true crime in any form — from literature to films to podcasts.

Why women love true crime

In October 2020, I asked four of my friends why women loved crime stories and shows. They did some introspection and came up with some fantastic insights. For one, it was a simple morbid curiosity about the mind of the criminal. For another, it was the thrill of enjoying danger vicariously. One said that crime stories, where victims are mostly women, serve as cautionary tales. For me, personally, it’s the satisfaction of seeing killers brought to justice.

True Crime is a girl’s best friend

I also took my queries to Puja Roy, a therapist from Good Lives, who also loves watching crime shows. “True crime attracts us because we get an understanding of the mind of a real person who has committed the crime. We want to watch it in part to learn how to avoid being a victim,” she said.

Also Read: Tips to fall asleep: Try a warm foot bath for better sleep

Roy also spoke about her clients, some of who have postpartum depression, watching crime documentaries as a way of coping. “They mentioned to me that their mind was already coming up with horrible worst-case scenarios. So it helped to hear actual worst-case scenarios play out.”

For these very reasons, crime shows make for good sleepy time content.

Why do we fall asleep to Forensic Files and crime podcasts?

Crime stories and podcasts are the new bedtime stories for grown women. Oddly, they have become our happy place.

Melatonin gummies for sleep: I am hooked (and a little confused)

Albeit morbid, it can be soothing, reassuring and even pleasurable. While Forensic Files and Peter Thomas are classic choices, podcasts and YouTube channels focusing on crime stories are fast gaining popularity.

Having watched every single episode of Forensic Files, I can predict the narrative every time I tune into an episode. I don’t have to perk up my ears or sit up with rapt attention since I am already familiar with the story. I can relax and simply enjoy the narrator’s voice as he whispers horrible tales of crime into my ears.

Also Read: Why everyone wants to be the victim

Then there’s the voice itself. There’s something reassuring about the old-school, dramatic style of Peter Thomas’ narration where words like ninhydrin, succinylcholine, gas chromatography and luminol seem like sweet nothings. It gives me something familiar and enjoyable to fall asleep to.

Credit also goes to OTT, podcast and other streaming platforms that feature a smorgasbord of crime-related content to snack on during bedtime.

Is watching crime shows bad for you?

There’s also a growing concern about the possible long-term effects of crime shows on mental health. The concerns aren’t without merit. ” When you’re constantly consuming stories that reveal the worst parts of humanity, you can start to doubt the humanity of the people around you. You may find yourself worrying whether the person you’re chatting with isn’t actually as nice as they seem. In short, you are anxious all the time,” said Roy.

The importance (and joy) of making your bed in the morning

She also named some red flags: “If you start feeling afraid every time you go out, it’s a sign your true-crime habit is negatively affecting you. If you are double-checking and rechecking locks and doors, it’s a sign that your true crime fascination has started to interfere with your life.”

Classic signs of anxiety also start surfacing like palpitations, shallow breathing and trouble sleeping. If you start experiencing these symptoms, time to find something else to fall asleep to.

“Of course, not all fans experience negative side effects, and each person has a different tolerance level. But if your obsession starts to disrupt your everyday life, it’s time to re-evaluate,” said Roy.