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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Twitch Streamers Make Thousands Literally by Just Sleeping

Moments before falling asleep live on Twitch, streamer Matthew “Mizkif” Rinaudo thought about how pissed off his mom would be if he told her that he made money sleeping.

“She thinks I do nothing now,” Rinaudo joked to his live viewers. “Wait until she finds out I literally slept and made money.”

Rinaudo enabled a bot that let his viewers submit videos if they made a cash donation, and went to bed. On the top right of the screen, the clips played on, while most of the display was taken up by Rinaudo resting on his back or side. Many hours and many cringy videos later, he woke up $5,600 richer. To show he wasn’t blind to how the whole stunt came off, Rinaudo gave a Nintendo Switch away to one of his patrons.

The newest trend in Twitch streaming is literally sleeping. That’s it. Over the past few weeks, streamers have been training their cameras on their mattresses as they doze off. In the intervening hours, viewers use Twitch’s donation function to gift them small quantities of money—$2 dollars, $5 there. A couple of streamers cutely refer to them as “slumber parties.”

“I suppose it’s time to get ready for bed bed bed bed bed beddybye,” said Twitch streamer and model Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa. It was 6 in the morning and, for hours, she had been broadcasting herself softly scratching and whispering into her microphone for an ASMR stream with cozy piano music. In chat, there was an outpouring of “have a good night,” “sleep well,” and “g’night.” Siragusa encouraged her fans to donate and subscribe; every 20 subscriptions pushed her alarm back another hour. She then hit Play on some ambient rain noises and went to bed.

In the chat accompanying the stream, one viewer asked, “Do people actually watch her sleep all night?” Another responded, “I wanna watch her sleep every night. I’m in love with her.”

Eight hours later, Siragusa woke up, got dressed, and picked up her Twitch stream with a marble-racing game.


Kacey “Kaceytron” Caviness says she got the idea to stream herself sleeping a couple of months ago on a camping trip, when she decided to leave the camera on and woke up with nearly 2,000 live viewers. “I think it gets more exciting for the viewers near the morning when they're trying to wake me up,” she says. On most sleepover streams, viewers can donate money to the streamer to have a text-to-speech bot read a message out loud. “It does really good revenue for me.” Kaviness says her viewers also enjoy hearing her last, rambling thoughts as she falls asleep.

As Caviness again slept live on camera in an RV earlier this week, stoned and on a camping trip with her dog, lingering viewers trolled her with absurd text-to-speech messages: “My sprinkler goes like thiststststststststststst,” a British computer voice read out loud ad nauseum. “Then it comes back like tttttttttttttttttttt.” Two-dollar donations trickled in. Caviness began to snore.

Although slumber streams are coming back into fashion now, perhaps the most famous instance took place in 2017. A video titled “HOW I MADE $5K WHILE SLEEPING FOR 8 HOURS,” viewed by 3.8 million people, displays notorious prankster and former Twitch streamer Paul “Ice Poseidon” Denino doing exactly that. Viewers submitted donations alongside the sounds of gunshots, door-knocking, and dubstep renditions of bagpipe music. Denino would occasionally startle awake and chuck a pillow at the camera or chew out his viewers. Legendary game speedrunner Narcissa Wright has streamed herself taking a short rest to recharge, but says that in the past she’s gotten in trouble with Twitch for doing so. “It was innocent, and I simply didn't want the stream to end,” she says. When asked about sleep streams becoming a trend, Wright says she feels "a bit vindicated.”

Sleep streams along the lines of Siragusa’s draw more from ASMR videos or Japanese cuddle cafés, where patrons pay hourly fees to feel intimacy with someone they’d never met. Recently, Twitch’s category for just talking, as opposed to gaming, has gained meteoric popularity in part because thousands of viewers at any given moment crave parasocial interaction. The lasting appeal of Twitch is its interactive element, which brings fans closer than ever—at least, digitally—to the objects of their fandom. Watching a streamer sleep, and maybe projecting themselves sleeping alongside them, makes them feel less alone. The trend has also extended beyond Twitch; prominent TikTokers have recently embraced overnight streams as well.

Humor or intimacy aside, Twitch streamers sometimes fall asleep on camera for a more obvious reason: They’re tired. Occasionally, they’ll take an unplanned nap after a full day of gaming and vigilantly entertaining thousands of people. Thousands of people watched a World of Warcraft streamer who goes by Asmongold take a power nap while he was waiting for World of Warcraft Classic’s servers to let him log on. Last year, a Hearthstone streamer took an unplanned snooze and woke up to 200 live viewers.

Despite the glamour that accompanies playing videogames for a living, successful Twitch streamers remain relevant and well-paid by being online as long as possible. It’s not as magical as it sounds. Top Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins once complained that he’d been offline for 48 hours and lost 40,000 subscribers on Twitch. One result of this is marathon streaming, a dangerous and prevalent practice that has Twitch streamers gaming live for days straight in an effort to catch every time zone and expose themselves as much as possible.

“Most streams can be very draining,” says Rinaudo. “This stream was the opposite. It was very easy. It was honestly a nice break from my normal routine of playing games all day.”

Before he drifted off on camera, Rinaudo confessed to his viewers that he’d been struggling with anxiety. It had taken a toll on his sleep. “We are doing a sleeping stream; one and only one,” he said. “You were here. I am tired. I am barely here. I need a nap. So I am going to go to sleep. I had a very long day.”

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