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Watching people sleep is all the rage on Twitch

It’s like a virtual slumber party

An adult man sleeping in a red racer bed. There’s an overlay of a video, which shows a person wearing a giraffe mask digging in the dirt. Image: Ludwig/Twitch
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

The latest big thing on Twitch is a total snooze fest, literally. According to new estimates shared with Polygon by StreamElements, a leading analytics service that partnered with a firm named to calculate platform statistics, viewers on Twitch watched over 2 million hours of sleeping streams in March.

The streams got a giant bump in viewership in no small part thanks to the popularity of Ludwig Ahgren, who reached as many as 1.5 million hours watched on Twitch. Ahgren is currently in the midst of a “sub-athon” where, for every subscription he gets, he will extend the length of his stream for 10 seconds. He has currently been streaming nonstop for 26 days of the marathon, and streams through the night every time. Watching him sleep has been an especially popular part of the stream, where Ahgren accumulated as many as 65,400 live viewers at one point, surprising himself. “I fell asleep on stream last night and became the most watched streamer on Twitch,” he tweeted on March 15. “What the hell is even that.”

While Ahgren’s streams have been popular recently, he isn’t the first to stream while sound asleep. Another streamer, Mizkif, broadcast himself dozing off, and racked up as many as 500,000 hours’ worth of viewership. Others have even become “sleep influencers” and have made as much as $16,000 in a single month by hosting trancelike livestreams of their slumber.

The streams are pretty much exactly what they sound like. You watch a person sleep on a bed. Sometimes they move, but mainly, you watch the person lie there.

This might sound boring in theory, but Ahgren’s stream isn’t completely dead. While he snoozes in his twin-size race car bed, moderators will fill in for him and chat via voice through the night. They discuss and share their thoughts on random stuff like the Persona series or why “lightning actually doesn’t strike the same place twice,” as an endless stream of videos plays.

Videos are picked by the chat and include literally anything as long as it doesn’t violate Twitch rules — some examples include parody Minecraft videos, anime-inspired music videos, and clips of movies and television shows. Every now and then, the mods themselves will stream games like Uno as well.

And when something does happen on Ahgren’s side — e.g., he wakes up — the chat goes absolutely bananas. If there’s rustling, then people immediately start spamming a Pepe emoticon, which depicts a controversial green frog staring intensely, and messages like “Jammies,” since people sometimes get a better view of Ahgren’s pajamas. A clip of him waking up has more than 188,000 views on Twitch. People will also comment if he changes position at all, although he tends to sleep on his back for the most part.

The entire production almost feels like a childhood slumber party. You’re staying up late. The conversation is slow. There’s just random stuff playing in the background — maybe it’s a movie or maybe it’s infomercials, but what’s on doesn’t actually matter all that much. It’s more about just hanging out. The streams have become an intimate way to feel connection while everyone is stuck at home alone during the pandemic.