Kathryn Nicolai has the kind of soft, soothing voice that instantly makes you feel calm. For millions of people, it puts them to sleep. Kathryn is an adult storyteller, whose sole goal is to help people get cozy and drift soundly to sleep.
She writes and tells stories about simple pleasures of life, such as, taking a walk down a gravel road, sneaking lilacs from an abandoned farm, watching fireflies or a tree lighting. There are no plot twists or character developments. You’ll hear Kathryn tell a story in a quiet rhythm that will make you fall asleep before it ever ends. And, if you are still awake at the end, it’s OK. She repeats the story once more, only slower. Her podcast is called, “Nothing Much Happens.”
Kathryn, 40, is a yoga instructor. She opened Ethos yoga studio in Holly, Mich., nearly two decades ago with the goal of making yoga accessible to anyone, regardless of their size or fitness level. At the studio, she’s heard from lots of clients talk about their trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It’s something Kathryn has never struggled with. Even as a young child growing up in Flint, Mich., she’s been making up and telling herself stories as a way to self-sooth, relax and fall asleep.
“I’ve had this technique my whole life, but I’d hear from others that I can't sleep, or can’t go back to sleep in middle of night,” she said. “I thought, how do I get this skill from me to them.”
As someone who specializes in mindfulness and meditation, Kathryn toyed with the idea of writing a book. She wrote a few stories, but then shelved them when she realized she didn’t know anything about the publishing world.
About three years ago, she was up with a sick dog, and the idea came to her. She could tuck people into bed from a distance with a podcast. At 3 a.m., she bought a microphone. Now, from a studio inside her home she shares with her wife and three dogs, she records “Nothing Much Happens.”
She’s written and narrated more than 75 stories that lull people to sleep. She has millions of listeners – 78 percent are women - and in February, O Magazine, included "Nothing Much Happens" as one of the 16 best happiness podcasts that’ll uplift you.
While the stories were initially written to help people with insomnia, she’s heard from people who have PTSD or suffer from anxiety tell her they have found peace through her words. She’s heard from people who listen while getting chemo or people who have lost a child, sexual assault victims terrified to go to bed. They all find comfort in her stories.
“It makes me take what I do very seriously,” she said. “It’s a very real responsibility, and I am careful about words I choose.”
The success of the podcasts, plus requests from listeners, helped her launch the book she dreamed of. The "Nothing Much Happens" book is a beautifully illustrated nightstand book filled with stories to ease your mind before bed. Learn more about Kathryn, her podcast and book here.