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With the latest episode of Stranger Things to watch and a never-ending to-do list to manage, it can be challenging to turn off your brain at night to fall asleep. It’s no wonder a third of Americans have trouble sleeping on a regular basis.
Fortunately, there are loads of sleep aids that can help, from melatonin supplements to white noise machines. One easy way to shut off your mind is to give it something else to focus on—ideally something boring or relaxing. That’s where a good sleep podcast comes in.
Whether the premise of complete silence freaks you out, or you just need something to drown out your snoring roommate, we’ve got you covered. Below we share the top podcasts to help you sleep.
Whatever style of sleep podcast you prefer, from bedtime stories to ASMR, we have something for you. Click to jump to the section that interests you:
Remember how bedtime stories helped you fall asleep when you were a child? These podcasts are just like those—just a lot more boring. That’s a good thing! The less gripping the story, the less inclined you’ll be to stay up and listen to the end.
Sleep With Me bills itself as “the podcast that puts you to sleep.” Each 60-minute episode features a dull, meandering story filled with tangents designed to bore you to sleep. Host Drew Ackerman was inspired to create the podcast in 2013 after his own struggles with childhood insomnia. Episodes are released a few times a week. With a backlog of nearly 800 episodes, you won’t run out of something to listen to. Can’t get enough of Drew’s voice? Check out Game of Drones, his blissfully boring recap show of Game of Thrones.
Part of the same podcast network as Sleep With Me, Welcome to Night Vale is an ongoing late night radio show about a fictional town named Night Vale. Every two weeks, a new episode is released, sharing community updates, news, and reports from the Sheriff’s office. Be warned, though: Welcome to Night Vale can get a bit eerie and spooky. Catch up on their backlog of 150+ episodes, or stay tuned in with their morning recap show.
If you want to up the ante after listening to Welcome to Night Vale, this podcast is for you. Host Kristen Zaza promises you a “spine-chilling yet soothing ghost story,” delivered to your podcast feed every week. How does she manage to deliver such a paradoxical combination? You’ll have to listen to find out. The backlog features over 70 episodes, ranging from 20 to 30 minutes each.
Going strong since 2011, host Seymour Jacklin promises “semi-regular” podcasts of his own original stories that will take you “on an imaginative and thought provoking journey.” Intriguing? We agree. Each episode of Stories from the Borders of Sleep lasts 8 to 18 minutes and is paired with a sleep-inducing soundscape or background noise. The backlog currently includes 40 episodes.
The Sleepy podcast is hosted by Otis Gray. Each week, he reads you an hour-long excerpt from an old book or novella that’s part of the public domain. This can be a great way to preview great pieces of literature, whether it’s Moby Dick or The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Catch up on your literary classics as Gray’s baritone voice lulls you to sleep.
Thankfully, not much happens on this aptly-named podcast — except you falling asleep. These bedtime stories are simple in plot, and not all that exciting, so they’re easy on the brain and practically be you to fall asleep. New episodes are released every two weeks, and last 20 to 30 minutes.
Nature is produced by Vanessa Lowe. Each episode blends documentary, fiction, and soundscapes into a story that explores the elements of the night and darkness. If you’re on the hunt for innovative audio storytelling, this is for you. Recent episodes include “In Magdalenian Footsteps,” which describes crawling through a dark French cave on your belly, and “On the Air,” which investigates the motivations and discussions between callers and late-night radio hosts. Each 30-minute episode is released monthly, with a current backlog of 60.
If you’d like something a bit more nebulous than a story to help you sleep, check out ASMR podcasts. These sleep podcasts blend ASMR triggers like whispers, soft crinkles, ambient noises, and more to tingle your ears and encourage sleep.
The ASMR Sleep Triggers podcast was started by a former insomniac. Today, the 30-minute podcast helps relax people to sleep, calming overactive minds, insomnia, and even tinnitus. Soundscapes follow themes, from a crackling campfire to a pleasant tropical ambiance. Many of the soundscapes are suggested by listeners themselves. If you love this podcast, good news: you can explore over a dozen of their Spotify playlists for sleep, too. New episodes get released several times a week.
With a name like Sleep Whispers, you know what you’re going to get with this podcast. Part of the ASMR & Insomnia podcast network, Sleep Whispers features nearly 200 episodes of whispered audio. Hosts share bedtime stories, guided meditations, Wikipedia articles, and listener feedback — all in a soothing, whispered tone. Episodes are released weekly.
The Sleep and Relax ASMR podcast releases themed audio experiences on a weekly basis. Each episode features ambient sounds tied to a theme, such as a New Orleans jazz lounge or 30 minutes of various crinkling sounds. Episodes are 20 to 30 minutes long, and you have over 300 to catch up on. ASMR triggers include whispers and low-speaking voices, background noise, and weather sounds like snow or water.
Produced by Jim Butler, each episode of the Deep Energy Podcast offers a 60-minute fusion of ambient sounds and new age music. Each soundscape is designed to support any kind of relaxation, whether you’re trying to fall asleep or want some background music for your nighttime yoga or meditation practice. The current backlog includes 100 episodes.
In this bi-monthly podcast, co-hosts Wanda and Paula have a discussion of their love for all things ASMR, interspersed with ASMR triggers throughout. This podcast is an excellent option for those interested in learning more about ASMR, while experiencing it for themselves as they fall asleep. Episodes range from 20 to 40 minutes, and there’s already a backlog of 50 for you to listen to.
While not strictly ASMR, we’re going to cheat and include this podcast here. This weekly BBC radio show features a lo-fi soundscape of ambient noise, nature sounds, and whispered discussions aimed to slow down your mind and help you chill out. The soundscapes are interesting and surprising, from an eerie walk in the English countryside to a nighttime eavesdropping session at the zoo. The backlog includes over 50 episodes, each with 15 to 40 minutes of sound.
Many people use meditation to improve various aspects of their lives, from their focus to their mood, and of course, their sleep. If you’d like a trained coach guiding you into sleep, look no further than these sleep meditation podcasts.
The Daily Meditation podcast is one of the most popular meditation podcasts out there. Developed by the makers of the Sip and Om guided meditation app, episodes are short and sweet, just 7 to 16 minutes long. Episodes are released daily, just like the name promises, but they’ll follow a theme for the week. While not all episodes are focused around sleep, they’re all delivered in a calming voice that makes it easy to fall asleep to. Plus, with over 1,500 episodes and counting, there’s no question that you’ll be able to find ones that speak to you.
Equally popular is the Meditation Minis podcast, hosted by hypnotherapist Chel Hamilton. Ever since 2015, she’s released a weekly episode offering a guided 10-minute meditation. Recent episode titles include “Relaxing Light Like a Feather” and “Meditation to Fall Asleep With.” While they vary in form and substance, each episode is devoted to reducing your anxiety and stress, and helping you sleep better!
This is a newer podcast, with only 8 episodes so far. Episodes range from 15 to 30 minutes long, and are released every few months. Each episode of Guided Sleep Meditations tackles a different aspect of sleep meditation, whether you want to fall asleep as quickly as possible, or want to combine your sleep with a visualization practice.
Some podcasts hold the special honor of not intending to make anyone fall asleep, but doing so nonetheless. Here are a few of the best non-sleep podcasts that will put you to sleep anyway, with the bonus of enriching your mind while they’re at it!
Are you a bibliophile who likes to read before bed? Now, you can continue your bedtime reading with your eyes closed, thanks to this podcast from The New Yorker. Each month, Fiction Editor Deborah Treisman hosts a conversation with a notable author, who then selects a reading by one of their own favorite authors to share with the podcast audience. Episodes run around an hour.
In Our Time is a weekly BBC radio show hosted by Melvyn Bragg. Topics range from history and literature to art and philosophy. Each 45-minute episode features a roundtable discussion of Melvyn and luminary guests, typically professors and researchers specializing in the topic at hand. This podcast can be great to fall asleep to if you find the learned voices of the Brits relaxing, and don’t mind learning a thing or two as you drift off!
In this near-daily podcast (the host takes weekends off), you can listen back to old episodes of real detective radio shows from the 1940s and 1950s. Each episode, host Adam Graham shares his own commentary, so you can get more out of the show. Enjoy nearly 850 episodes of Night Beat, Rocky Fortune, Richard Diamond, Boston Blackie, Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, and Dragnet.
With a name like “You Must Remember This,” you might feel like this is something you should listen to when you’re awake. But not to worry; that’s probably only the case if you’re a film historian. Many fans of this podcast prefer listening in bed, falling asleep as film critic Karina Longworth lets you in on a piece of forgotten Hollywood history. Learn Hollywood’s secrets and impress your movie buff friends. Episodes are released weekly and typically run about 45 minutes each.
For a podcast tackling the larger questions in life, check out On Being. Peabody-award-winning journalist Krista Tippet interviews experts about what it means to be human, how to get the most out of life, and get in touch with each other and ourselves. This is a podcast for your soul. Think big and feel good as you fall asleep. Episodes are released weekly and last 50 to 90 minutes.
But, leaving on the TV (or Netflix) isn’t an ideal solution. These technologies emit disruptive bright blue light, tricking your brain into thinking it’s daytime and keeping you up even later. Even if you close your eyes and just listen, having that strong blue light in your bedroom is disruptive to sleep.
Plus, by their nature, movies and TV shows are extremely variable in sound levels. There’s dialogue, blaring music, explosions, gasps, yells, even commercials. That variability is bound to jolt you awake like an unwelcome alarm clock.
Sleep podcasts, on the other hand, are designed to help you sleep. The hosts typically speak in a monotone voice, creating almost a human white noise effect. If they’re telling you a bedtime story, you can bet it’s a boring one you won’t be all that invested in. There are also guided meditation podcasts for sleep.
Even better, podcasts are free, and they’re easy to get. There’s no waiting around for 2-day shipping. You simply search for the podcasts in your podcast app of choice (on your smartphone or smart home device), press play, and close your eyes.
To take your podcast-listening game to the next level, follow these three tips.
You don’t want to be tethered to your smartphone as you fall asleep. It’s uncomfortable, and it’s harder to resist the temptation to look at your phone (flooding your eyes with that bright blue light). Instead, wear wireless headphones or use the built-in speaker on your smartphone or smart home device.
The quicker you can turn off the noise while you sleep, the more restful your sleep will be. Many podcast apps include a timer where you can choose to turn off the podcast within a set period of time (say 10, 15, 30, or 60 minutes) or, better yet, once an episode ends.
Some podcasts apps also include the ability to adjust the playback speed. Look for an icon that displays “1X” on the podcast screen, and tap it to slow down to 1/2X. This is a neat trick for turning a regular podcast into a sleepytime one, just by slowing down the host’s talking voice!