If you spend more of your nights tossing and turning than you do actually, well, sleeping, it might be time to consider a sleep aid. And if you love podcasts to help make your morning commute pass by faster, consider sleep podcasts, which are basically the same thing but for catching zzz's.
It’s clear many Americans aren’t getting the recommended seven hours or more of sleep per night, with more than a third of adults reporting not getting enough shut-eye on a regular basis, according to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You may think you’ve tried everything to help you finally get some rest, from weighted blankets, to staying off technology before bed, but there may be one avenue that you haven’t exhausted just yet: podcasts. Podcasts aren't just vehicles to get your true-crime fix or keep you updated on world events — the industry has expanded to include podcasts for therapy, self-help, and, of course, sleep.
While podcasts are never a substitute for appropriate therapy or medication if you’re dealing with a diagnosed sleep disorder, they may be a useful tool to help the average sleep-deprived person doze off. As a bonus, they are also free.
If you’re new to the world of podcasts, the process is as easy as plugging in your headphones into your phone and tuning into one of the many shows designed specifically to help you snooze. These programs vary from ASMR-y streams, to guided meditations and grown-up versions of bedtime stories. Admittedly, though, navigating the hundreds of offerings can be a bit daunting if you’re just starting out. To help you find a podcast that may be the right fit for you, here are nine sleep podcasts to help you get one step closer to a good night’s sleep.
1. Sleep With Me Podcast
Sleep With Me started in the fall of 2013, and has dominated the sleep podcast genre since, with a tagline that literally states, "The podcast that puts you to sleep." The show is updated twice a week and hosted by Drew Ackerman, who struggles with insomnia himself. It features stories designed to distract listeners and help lull them to sleep by getting progressively more boring.
2. Sleep Meditation Podcast
Another podcast with a very literal name, Sleep Meditation Podcast is a regularly-updated show that offers "relaxing sleep triggers," aka nature sounds, ASMR, and relaxing music galore. The episodes can be paired with yoga, mediation, or just as background noise while you try to go to bed.
3. Sleep Whispers
The premise of Sleep Whispers is exactly what it sounds like: the host whispers about topics, ranging from the history and physics of roller coasters to readings of famous short stories, to help simultaneously engage your brain with ASMR and quiet your thoughts. If you are prone to racing thoughts at night and like your sleep podcast with a side of knowledge, this is the show for you.
4. Story Not Story
If you like your podcasts on the quirkier side, Story Not Story revolves around a married couple regaling each other with bedtime stories that they create on the spot. Notable episode names include "The Invasion of the Potato People" and "Princess Emily and the Alien Selfie."
5. The New Yorker: Fiction
For the highbrow insomniac, The New Yorker: Fiction podcast is like a monthly book club, except for short stories from the magazine's archives. If you've ever dreamed about famous authors like David Sedaris reading you a bed time story, this is the next best thing.
6. In Our Time
While In Our Time is not exactly marketed as a sleep-focused podcast, host Melvyn Bragg's recounts 50 minute slices of history in the soothing drawl of the elegant British grandfather you always wanted are like a digital melatonin. This BBC 4 podcast can make you more informed while also boring you to sleep, and I mean that as a compliment.
7. Deep Energy Podcast
For the person who struggles to sleep but doesn't want to listen to voices, Deep Energy Podcast offers hour-long episodes chock full of ambient noise and new age music that can assist with making you sleepy.
8. Welcome to Night Vale
Welcome to Night Vale is a fan favorite podcast, and for good reason. The episodes tell offbeat stories about a small desert town (Night Vale) where "every conspiracy theory is true." The podcast's subject matter is at times creepy, hilarious, and entertaining, while also acting as an escape from the real world. The host's steady, calming voice is a bonus.
Happy listening, and may these podcasts bring you sweet dreams (or at the very least keep you entertained while you try to get some Zs).
Additional reporting by Kristin Magaldi.