Drew Ackerman is possibly the world's most boring man.
The 45-year-old from California is so boring, in fact, people who listen to his podcast are tipped into a state of total unconsciousness, usually within minutes of hearing his nonsensical, monotonous rambling.
In Australia alone, more than 150,000 people listen to him each night before we shut our eyes.
This may sound like a complete turn-off to the average person who prefers to be awake and entertained by their choice of podcast, but Ackerman says his approach is saving millions of lives around the world.
His podcast, Sleep With Me, allows more than three million people each month living with insomnia and anxiety to drift into a deep, peaceful slumber.
So how has one man developed the power to put this many people to sleep each night?
DESPERATELY SEEKING SLEEP
Ackerman's troubled relationship with sleep began many years before the 2013 launch of Sleep With Me.
As a boy he suffered from insomnia and anxiety for years and would often get "so stressed I'd lie awake at night worrying, over-thinking things".
Many years later, he found a routine that helped him wind down before bed, but he couldn't find any podcasts available that weren't structured or regimented sleep meditations.
"There was nothing that was similar to a children's bedtime story for adults to fall asleep to," Ackerman said.
Ackerman, who worked as a librarian at the time, designed Sleep With Me to feel as if the listener was having an "easy conversation with your friend from across the room".
"I knew the pain and loneliness of not being able to fall asleep, and the idea of having someone there to keep you company as you fall asleep is really comforting," he said.
And so, the very first hour-long episode of Sleep With Me was recorded.
Admittedly, it took Ackerman at least 150 episodes before he truly understood what it took to be the most boring person on earth.
Even now, he finds himself falling asleep to the sound of his own voice while editing over lunch.
"Yep, I have fallen asleep to my own podcast before," he laughed.
SLEEP WITH ME
Now with 785 episodes in his bedtime arsenal, Ackerman's twice-weekly podcast features him meandering slowly through an unpredictable 60 minutes, filled to bursting with "intentionally boring content" — all delivered in his trademark slow, continuous pace.
His trademark tone is even and calm, with listeners claiming their snoozing in mere minutes after listening to his nonsensical tales.
Why has he done this for so long? Because of the "humbling" feedback he gets from his millions of fans around the world.
"When I hear what listeners have been through and how I have helped, it's a huge moment for me," he said.
"It might be a soldier dealing with PTSD or a new mum trying to take care of her baby or someone working a second or third shift who is trying to get some sleep during the day."
WHAT'S IN AN EPISODE?
Ackerman describes his bedtime stories as ramblings "that don't really make any particular sense".
"Sometimes I go on journeys, where I personify landmarks and have discussions with them," he said.
In one episode, Ackerman pretends he is interviewing the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.
"People can picture that in their head, and I then personify that bridge," he said.
"I tend to overdo it on the detail and try to talk to the bridge, asking it, 'What does it feel like to be looked at, looked through and looked from?'
"The listeners are usually like, 'What is this guy going on about, but by then they're asleep'."
His secret is to keep his stories interesting enough to keep you listening without stimulating your brain.
THE IMAGINARY FRIEND
While Ackerman admits his entire podcast "is always pretty weird", the most unusual episode he ever recorded was a confronting interview with his imaginary friend from childhood — Bill.
"I had to call my mum before the episode to ask her what his name was because I had totally forgotten it. His name was Bill," Ackerman said.
For the next 60 minutes, Ackerman spoke to Bill about his life, asked him questions about what he had been up to and even apologised for forgetting about him.
"I had to apologise to Bill so I told him, "I forgot all about you and I'm really sorry'. People liked it," he said.
WHAT HELPS US FALL ASLEEP?
For Ackerman, the interactive nature of Sleep With Me allows him to gauge what people like to listen to before they drift off.
He said there were a number of things his listeners hated hearing before they dozed off.
"They don't like me talking about snakes and spiders or air travel or flying of any kind," he said.
"They also don't want to hear about financial problems or politics."
But his insomniacs love being immersed in a tactile experience or a tour of something they can picture in their mind's eye.
Ackerman has a strong following in Australia — racking up 150,000 downloads across the nation each month.
"There's fans all over the world like the UAE, Iceland and even Africa, where English is their second or third language," he said.
"There is this massive population of people struggling in every country to get a decent night's sleep, and I want to help them."
But people could require Ackerman's bizarre stream of consciousness more than they realise.
Based on a national survey, it is estimated that 13 per cent of New Zealanders aged 20–59 yrs suffer from symptoms of insomnia.
To help his Aussie audience, Ackerman released a one-off Australian-inspired sleep episode this week that features him meandering through some of the nation's greatest landmarks, from the Big Banana to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
He produced the episode in partnership with natural sleep supplement company, Floris ReDromin Forte.
According to Ackerman, the episode, called "Australia Sleepy Slang Tour" is a silly, lighthearted walk around the country.
"We decided that I would go on a tour of Australian landmarks, ask for sleep tips from those landmarks and learn some Aussie slang," Ackerman said.
"My pronunciation was terrible, and all the landmarks were having fun at my expense."