Wellness

11 Meditation Podcasts To Help You Sleep

Sweet dreams, courtesy of the play button.

Close-up of a young Caucasian woman lying on her bed with headphones, relaxing and resting while listening to the music.
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Even if you’ve tired yourself out with a full day of work, an hour of yoga, and 45 minutes of tearing the house apart looking for your cat, you might not be ready to drift off when your head hits the pillow. Maybe you’re thinking about that promotion, or you’re so stressed about a fight with a friend that dropping off feels impossible. Putting into a more relaxed state with meditation can really help. Enter: meditation podcasts for sleep.

Mindful meditation has gained praise for its ability to quieten the mind and body to enhance inner contentment,” Dr. Seema Sarin M.D., head of lifestyle medicine at EHE Health, tells Bustle. And whether your sleep difficulties stem from anxiety, pain, insomnia, or something else, she says meditation can help soothe yourself in the evenings. “Meditation involves more than simply slowing your breathing and releasing your chaotic thoughts — it can reduce your stress levels, and improve your sleep,” she says.

Podcasts can be preferable to guided meditation apps — or simply sitting on a cushion to chill out — because they’re generally free and easily accessible offline, and involve a huge variety of content. Some meditation apps actually produce their own podcasts, but wherever you source yours, all you have to do is click Play. Read on for meditation podcasts to listen to before bed.

The Mindful Minute

The Mindful Minute, created by yogi Meryl Arnett, is free on Spotify and acts as a kind of gateway to meditation. It keeps it simple, with 30 minute episodes aimed at demystifying the whole meditation thing and talking to other experts about why it can help. The episodes focus on all aspects of modern life, from work to the pursuit of authenticity. Arnett’s Mini Meditations series, which aim to be self-contained sessions for people with less time, can be a good starting point to ease you into sleep, as they’re a little shorter at around 18 minutes.

Sleep Whispers

The whole point of Sleep Whispers is to get you to drop off. To aid that end, they have a range of listening options, from straight-up meditations to stories and facts designed to “bore you right to sleep.” For instance, there’s a set of facts on chinchillas. There are also over 250 past episodes, so you don’t have to worry about running out anytime soon.

Meditation Oasis

Meditation Oasis has a collection of podcasts for all aspects of sleep issues, from difficulty dozing in the first place to those 2 a.m. wake-ups when you can’t get back to sleep. All of them lead you back into the world of sleep with guided meditations, music, and deep breathing. It’s available on iTunes or via the Meditation Oasis app on Google Play, iTunes or Amazon.

Meditation Minis

The Meditation Minis have been around since 2015, when host Chel Hamilton, a hypnotherapist, started producing short, simple guided meditations for all kinds of challenges. They might guide you through a garden, or through a grounding exercise. The episodes max out at 20 minutes, but some are as short as five, and there’s a special category of evening minis, to help you get into the mood for snoozing. You can get them at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify.

Liberate App

The Liberate meditation app, available on both iOS and Android, was created by Julio Rivera as a meditation space by and for Black, indigenous, and people of color. The free meditations cover everything from microaggressions to racism and the right to sleep. You can download the app for free, or you can subscribe for full access to their podcast library and talks.

Nothing Much Happens

If meditation isn’t really your style, but you’d really like to be soothed at bedtime, Nothing Much Happens by Kathryn Nicolai might be the ticket. It’s a podcast of adult bedtime stories, with no discernible plot and simple, absorbing language that will help relax you. You can access Nothing Much Happens on Google and Apple Podcasts, and sign up for premium versions that will give you access ad-free.

Mindful Meditations By Mindful.Org

On your journey to mindfulness, let Mindful.org be your guide. The magazine talks about everything mindful, so the podcast is suitably wide-ranging, tackling how to use meditation techniques for all kinds of issues. The Mindful Meditations, available on Spotify, has a wide range of calming meditations. They’re not specifically targeted to sleep; instead, you pick what might calm you that particular evening, such as breathing meditations or talks about loving kindness.

Headspace Sleepcasts

Headspace is a hugely popular meditation app, and its Sleepcasts are tailored specifically to ease you into REM. They’re quite long, between 45 and 55 minutes, and shift from a beginning meditation to a description of a soothing place, complete with audio. They’re available from $9.99 a month, but samples are available from the app and online if you want to see if they’re the right fit for you.

Meditation Station

Newbies and the uncertain can check out Meditation Station, hosted by Stin Hansen and available on Spotify, for an introduction to meditation for sleep. The offerings range from dealing with trauma to housework, but the podcast’s calming meditations for sleep (entitled things like “Zzzzzz”) are very popular.

Mindfulness Meditation From Rubin Museum Of Art

The Rubin Museum of Art in NYC runs weekly meditation sessions in person, with a range of different meditation experts talking about their specialities. The podcast is a recording of those classes for the people who aren’t anywhere nearby (or want to access it at 3 a.m. on a Monday). It’s available on Apple podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn, and it’ll motivate you to drop into a session next time you’re near the Rubin. And, bonus, the podcasts are illustrated by beautiful museum pieces.

Tracks To Relax’s Guided Sleep Meditations

Guided Sleep Meditations by Tracks to Relax target every angle of sleep meditation. Need a narrated journey somewhere soothing in nature? A guide through breathing techniques and full-body relaxation? A low voice reading you a childhood classic? They’ve got you covered, with each session lasting around 20 minutes. You can find them on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, or find free sessions on Amazon’s Alexa.

Expert:

Dr. Seema Sarin M.D.

Studies cited:

Black, D.S., O’Reilly, G.A., Olmstead, R., Breen, E.C., Irwin, M.R. (2015) Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults With Sleep Disturbances: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 175(4):494–501. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081