Queer Eye’s food and drink expert is about to lull you into a dreamy slumber with a new Canadian Audible Original…
By Bianca Guzzo
Usually when someone mentions Antoni Porowski you think of the lovable foodie from Queer Eye that teaches the show’s heroes how to make delicious meals, but as of August 30, Porowski has taken on a new role: narrating a relaxing sleep podcast for Audible.ca to help you have the best sleep ever. Sleep Sound with Antoni Porowski is a Canadian Audible Original that offers listeners six episodes featuring different relaxing soundscapes to help you get a restful night’s sleep. IN caught up with Antoni to talk all about the recording process, his favourite sounds to fall asleep to, and his tips and tricks to remedy those nights you spend tossing and turning for hours.
IN: What made you want to take on this project and be the narrator of a Canadian Audible Original?
Antoni Porowski: Full disclosure, a lot of times with collaborations and partnerships brands will reach out and I’m like “oh yeah… That sounds really cool”. I’m not kidding you, I’ve had a daydream and a fantasy of doing something like this for such a long time. I don’t know why, I was just obsessing over the fact of just sitting in a booth and recording, whether it was children’s stories or some kind of sleep stories. So when Audible came with the opportunity to work together I was so genuinely excited because this was like a weird bucket list thing I didn’t even fully realize I had until they came and I was like “oh yeah I really wanted to do this”. And it was so much fun to do!
How would you describe Sleep Sound to someone who has never heard of it before?
Basically..I’ll only speak from my experience even though they’ve had so many incredible people collaborate with them. There’s a beautiful environment and you’re basically describing it in vivid detail while not trying to speak too quickly and just slowing everything down, and pronouncing everything correctly. There’s something that’s just very, very soothing and calming [about Sleep Sound] for anybody who’s like me and has a ton of anxiety during the day, and is always obsessing over things that they can’t control. I call it “the landing phase”, which often happens after a shoot day or even after just a busy day of Zooms or running around and doing errands when I’m in town and don’t have much going on. I need this “landing period” before I get ready for my nighttime ritual. And so it’s nice just to get into that zone without having to watch TV and seeing a super bright, blaring screen, or whatever it is that might distract you, along with a nice chamomile tea. And so, I think it’s just an important part of the ritual. We should all do our best to get our eight hours of sleep whenever that’s possible, or whatever is appropriate for you.
Since your Canadian Audible Original is to help people get a good night’s rest, in your opinion, what makes a good bedtime ritual?
It’s whatever lowers your cortisol and your heart rate, so I’ve learned for myself that I should not snack right before going to sleep because I end up with like night-sweats, and my chest just gets really hot and I tend to overheat. Once I’m ready for lights out and the whole situation I need a fan blaring at me because I need to have that feeling of wind. I have a sound machine that I bought on Amazon. It’s actually a baby sound machine that’s like literally $15 and it’s so soothing. A sleep mask is also really important. Even skincare as a nighttime ritual is really good for me. It’s a few minutes that I have in front of the mirror just to do something that’s really for me and with Sleep Sound I think it’s the same thing. Anything to just calm you down and set you up for success, so you can have as many unobstructed hours of REM sleep as you can possibly have.
And I know you said you try not to eat right before bed, but what would be your go-to midnight snack?
I have read studies that say chocolate is not great to have before going to sleep, so I definitely avoid that. There are these cookies that I really like called Partake that are grain-free and they have Snickerdoodle, and a really nice lemon flavour, and you can get funfetti and they have them in crunchy or chewy. I like to dip those into pistachio milk because it reminds me of milk and cookies when I was a kid. Like, my parents were out of town and I had someone taking care of me and they would let me have a little treat, so there’s something kind of nostalgic in that. I would think like, anything that people like to have as a kid before going to bed, other than chocolate of course. But anything like a nice little something that makes you feel happy. I went through a period of time where it was Medjool dates with a piece of sharp cheddar that was really good. Whatever it is that makes a person happy, minus chocolate of course.
Okay, one of your friends calls you. They’ve been tossing and turning all night, they can’t get to sleep. What tips would you give them to remedy a sleepless night?
Well, after they’re done listening to Sleep Sound with Antoni Porowski on Audible.ca [laughs]… Actually this is something that my partner taught me to do whenever my mind is all wound up. I start from a thousand and basically just count down. The smallest number I’ve ever gotten to is like, 800-something, and eventually I just fall asleep. It’s like a version of counting sheep basically. Just focusing on some kind of a task that doesn’t require me to play out what my day is like, because that’s my loop. It’s all that crazy stuff that has no place being in my mind right before I fall asleep. Most of it is just focusing on my breathing and doing ten counts. Numbers really help because I usually don’t analyze numbers, and I’ll analyze everything else in my life whether I can control it or not.
What made recording this Canadian Audible original different from other projects you’ve been part of?
Well, it came from this weird fantasy that I had in my mind and it’s something that I really wanted to do. Also, as a very proud Canadian, you know, working with Audible.ca is very exciting. Whenever I get to do something in part with a Canadian community it just makes me feel like I’m home even though I’m not.
What was your favourite part of the recording process?
It was just setting myself up for the whole thing, so I only had one coffee as opposed to my normal two or three. I had a ginger decaffeinated tea, because you don’t want to stress your vocal chords, with a bit of apple cider vinegar and some Manuka honey that I mixed in. I made sure to dress really comfy because sound stages are typically pretty cold. I wanted to make sure I was comfy and cozy basically, so a comfy T-shirt, not like a button down that was like too crisp or starched or anything like that. I just wanted to keep it as cozy as humanly possible. It was even too cozy sometimes, I started yawning.
There are six different episodes of Sleep Sound for listeners to choose from, from a flowing river to a rainstorm in the city, but if you could only listen to one episode to fall asleep to for the rest of your life, what would it be?
They kind of surprised me and they did a beautiful one where I’m sitting in a chair with a mug and I’m looking at Montreal as the rain is coming. It made me think of being at my step mom’s house whenever I visit because she always takes such good care of me. She gets me cheese curds, she gets me a wonderful tarte au sucre whenever I come in. She just has the most calming energy, and her place is so calming. So when I was reading it I was picturing being in her house and she has these beautiful big windows overlooking all of Montreal, and you’re looking up at the whole city. It made me really nostalgic and made me feel like I was in a really good, safe space.
If you were to narrate an audiobook for Audible Canada, what genre would you want it to be?
Ooh.. it would have to be some kind of like, existential maybe like, coming-of-age [story]. Something a little psychological to get in your feelings. Maybe something to do with relationships starting and ending. Anything that’s kind of dramatic and a little heady and emotional. Whatever the contemporary version of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being would be.