Can’t Sleep? Let Bob Ross Help You Find Some Happy Little Zzzs

For years, insomniacs watched “The Joy of Painting” to doze off. Now, the maker of a meditation app wants everyone else to fall asleep, too.

Comments: 54

  1. This is so funny! I’ll have to try it. For years I watched Martha Stewart Living to fall asleep. So soothing.

  2. I would like to be bored to sleep not bored to death.

  3. just leave hgtv on...........

  4. Oh yeah, its so easy to drift off, so very very calming.

  5. It always worked like a charm for me. Nothing like a Sunday afternoon nap with Bob on the TV!

  6. The Calm app was by far my best investment in 2017. I'm a chronic insomniac who had previously enlisted prescription sleep medicine to doze off. Now, I just listen to the sleep stories no the app. There's a least one ("A Magical Winter's Night) whose ending I still don't know because I doze off before it's over. Can't wait to listen to Mr. Ross, whose show was a staple of my childhood.

  7. How funny! I bought a Bob Ross VHS tape years ago for exactly this reason (help getting to sleep). Lie down in a dimly lit room, turn on tape, and zzzzzzzzzzz...

  8. that's funny. I've been dozing to bob since the 80's. he perfect for it. then you wake up at the end and say, oh look at that picture, when did that happen?

  9. I enjoyed watching Mr. Ross's show on PBS when I younger. His voice really did have a hypnotic affect on the viewer, at least this one.

    I often wondered how much money he could have made just by saying "now slip a check for $100 to me at this address".

  10. When I can't sleep, which is not very often, I turn on The Roosevelts on Netflix. The narrator's voice puts me right out.

  11. Bob Ross is the reason I know I experience ASMR, and The Joy of Painting was the first thing I tried to find on youtube when I realized it had old TV content for viewing, for this exact reason. I rely so much on listening to ASMR-triggering videos to fall asleep nowadays.

  12. Maria's Gentle Whispering videos on You Tube are wonderful.

  13. I watch Mr Rogers Neighborhood, although sometimes watching the making of construction paper is overly arousing. Also Benadryl.

  14. One of the reasons I used to watch his show when I was younger was that I'd doze off to his melodic voice and catch a quick cat nap on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

  15. For me it's Mary Tyler Moore episodes, which i have seen a million times. Puts me quickly away... for a while at least.

  16. Playing the video from the article in the background during a particularly stressful work afternoon. Thank you Bob, and Laura M. Holson!

  17. You are welcome, Kathy!

  18. Just listen to Trump to dose off. Trump can't even speak English, so his words are white (nationalist) noise from his White (nationalist) House bed.

  19. Awhile back, somebody on these comments boards recommended the free Sleep With Me podcast. It really helped me last year while I was getting used to the new regime I was living under.

  20. I have used Mr. Ross’ voice to fall asleep for decades. No need for Ambien. Also good: Mr. Rogers Neighborhood (preferably episodes heavy on Lady Aberlin and light on Lady Elaine), Bridges of Madison County (Meryl Streep’s Italian accent is dreamy), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Streep again, and George Clooney’s baritone), and movies set outdoors, like Into the Wild, Wild, Cast Away (after the plane crash obviously) and, believe it or not, Deliverance (before the, um, bad scene).

  21. A friend of mine have been suffering from insomnia for a long time. He doesn’t like taking medicine, prefers the more natural way to help him to get some sleep . But he doesn’t speak enough English . Would that matter? Please help.

  22. IF you can experience ASMR it won't matter if it's English . It is the sound itself-not the words. I convert some YouTube videos to mp3 and put them on my ipod. Whispers Red is my favorite. Others are relaxed by the images.
    Search YouTube for ASMR and try different ASMRtists to see if they work for you.

  23. Mr. Rogers is no slouch in the soothing voice business.

  24. Guaranteed, 10 fifteen seconds at the most then, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  25. After reading this article, I pulled up one of Bob Ross'es shows on YouTube. Zzzzzzzzzz.........

  26. When I was teaching art years ago my students loved Bob. Called him "Valium Bob".

  27. I thought marijuana helped people go to sleep and marijuana users happen to watch a lot of Bob Ross late at night. From my understanding, it's usually Bob Ross, Adult Swim, or dubbed over Asian game shows. Perhaps the occasional Kung Fu movie. Either way, Bob Ross' legacy thankfully lives on. We might have a few wires crossed in how we interpret that legacy though.

  28. Forgot where I saw it but I once saw this: Imagine if a Bob Ross was a serial killer and he painted the places he buried his victims.

  29. You don't need Bob Ross. My tried and true method:
    Think of a time when you wanted to sleep but could not because of the physical surroundings - be it in a plane, bus, overnight train in India...the more uncomfortable you were the better. Now...focus on that moment as you lie in your bed, which now seems like the most comfortable place on earth. Keep focusing on the fact that there are thousands of poor souls stuck in that situation at that very moment and you'll be snoozin' in no time. It's the schadenfreude method - take comfort in the misery of someone else.

  30. If the only side effect of this sleep aid is that we might wake up with the urge to paint a landscape, then it's all good.

  31. One of the most valuable lessons i learned in painting class in college was to mentally divide my canvas into 4 equal quadrants and work on the weakest area. The reason as was explained to me that artists often fall into a trap and keep working areas that’s they are comfortable with. It’s also similar what Cezanne said in that he advances his entire canvas at the same time.

    Bob Ross might be a terrific guy but his wet in wet techniques was hardly an invention of his and his concept of working from the the top down to those happy trees is horrible technique to teach beginning artists. Maybe inducing insomnia was his great contribution to society but his 30 minute paintings are a bit too slick for me.

  32. For a similar effect, try old ABC broadcasts of the Pro Bowlers Tour, with Chris Schenkel at the mike. The sound of the pins and the applause were no match for Schenkel's soothing, understated delivery. Perfect for a Saturday afternoon snooze on the couch.

  33. I'd rather fall asleep to Bob Ross than Edvard Munch.

  34. Listening to Bob talk about painting is the stuff of nightmares!!

  35. Koosje Koene videos on Youtube. Her voice is way soothing. And you might learn something else that would relax you.

  36. Very true! My late husband took an afternoon nap almost daily as Bob Ross came on KCTS-TV in Seattle.

  37. My son, who is 18, has been using Bob Ross videos to fall asleep for a year now. He just happened upon it. He had no idea that he wasn't the only one.

  38. I was so happy to find Bob Ross on Netflix a couple of years ago. I had suffered a head injury and found most TV too assaultive for my poor brain. His voice was so soothing. and I loved the happy trees.

  39. FWIW, I believe all of his shows are available for free on YouTube.

  40. Completely mesmerized. Describes how I felt after accidentally stumbling onto his show in the early nineties. Since then I have watched and watched and though it’s not lulling me to sleep like it once was, he is still the king in my book. The voice. That silky soft sensual voice. Like James earl jones, garrison Keillor, Barry White, it’s the voice. That million dollar voice.

  41. Of course I had to watch the episode embedded in the Times article. I don’t know how he does it. As an artist, he’s utterly mediocre, and yet in less than 30 minutes, he creates a completely convincing landscape.
    And 90% of his viewers will NEVER pick up a paintbrush. They just want to hear him talk, and sponge away at his canvasses.

    The quintessential American success story.

  42. Disagree about "mediocre". He has a good eye, and he has a very good mastery of what he's doing and of his materials. He captures the fractal nature of the scenery (eg mountains) and balances his composition in a pleasing way. He makes it look easy enough though. Rather in the way a good flautist makes Mozart sounds easy.

  43. Addendum to earlier remark: He also captures the play of light nicely. A most essential thing. Although in the sample episode I was surprised that he didn't mention it - for example as he highlights the mountain range with light. Maybe in other episodes...

  44. The sound of a pencil scribbling to me is very irritating. Like a nail scratching a blackboard or two pages rubbed together. Even the sound of sandpapering sends me up a wall. To each his own. Bur a french woman talking low or whispering really relaxes me into a sleepy time reverie. It's a form pf ASMR as some of you know.

  45. Think we insomniacs can finally get some Jim Nance, with his dulcet Master's tones, to record for Calm??

  46. The best thing he'd say is, "It's YOUR painting," meaning do as you wish and don't worry about critics.

  47. Ok, perhaps mediocre is being too harsh. But he weren't no Rembrandt.

  48. He wasn’t trying to be. He made those paintings in 30 minutes. Not so easy - even for Rembrandt

  49. I tried to watch these imbedded videos, but I fell asleep - how do they end?

  50. I use the Calm app on a daily basis for my meditations and often for sleep stories. I was elated last week when I found a Bob Ross audio clip in the sleep stories. (I couldn’t agree more that leaving the brush strokes in was a smart move.) I used the story during an afternoon nap...the most restful sleep I have had in a while. I am so glad those who currently own Ross’ work realized what it could be, even so many years after his passing.

  51. “...autonomous sensory meridian response, more commonly referred to as A.S.M.R., a state of deep calm...”

    Not quite right. It’s a tingling sensation that begins along the spine and moves all the way up to the head, immensely pleasurable but not in a sexual way. It’s hypnotizing. Most people don’t experience it—I did as a kid though not as an adult—but most people do find the videos that trigger it soothing. I think it’s because it redirects attention from the stressful, adrenaline-inducing thoughts.

    The New Yorker did an amazing piece about it for their YouTube channel featuring the “matriarch” of the community of ASMR content creators:

    I always link to the This American Life episode that made me realize this phenomenon I experienced as a kid was An Actual Thing:

    It has even found its way into advertisement. I’ve listened to this (super clever) 25 minute IKEA video dozens of times:

  52. This does not surprise me. Though I was not a regular viewer, I always found his videos quite relaxing. I met him at the design firm that handled the graphic end of his marketing. I was a designer there. Very nice and personable person. At the time he did all his videos at the PBS studio at Ball State in Muncie, IN.

  53. Bob Ross was a godsend in the 90s when my young son had reached that "half a nap" stage - where no nap led to meltdowns and a full nap led to insufficient tiredness at bedtime. Bob fixed that problem. We would sit down together in the afternoon and zone out while Bob created his many woodland scenes. I don't know anything about A.S. M.R. but our breathing would deepen, our minds would calm - we might have dozed off, or just entered an alternate state of being for a few minutes. Whatever it was, those few minutes allowed my toddler and I to face the rest of the day renewed and in a "happy" place. It had such a profound effect on my son (now 30) that he gave me a Bob Ross bobble-head for Mother's Day to commemorate his fond memories of those afternoons.

  54. I had migraines for years. Bob Ross was the only voice that calmed and soothed my pounding head when I was going through an episode. I can't say that I learned how to paint, though.