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Sometimes, you need a little help turning off your mind at the end of a long day (that doesn’t involve watching a TV show, endlessly scrolling through Instagram, or getting caught in the deep dark hole of Wikipedia). Below, we've rounded up some of the best podcasts to help you get sleepy—from white noise to bedtime sleep stories, ASMR to guided mindfulness meditations. All are available on Apple Podcast or Spotify so you can easily tune in and doze off.
Hosted by Drew Ackerman (in character as “Dearest Scooter”) and featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, and Dr. Oz, Sleep With Me is a (grown-up) bedtime story podcast. Ackerman, who himself suffered from childhood insomnia, takes a cue from late-night comedy radio to tell short stories about everything from his take on the Great British Bake Off, to his childhood as the oldest of six children, to his past jobs as the fruit fly monitor for the State of California and librarian for one of the country’s largest jails. The goal? Tell random, non-stressful stories that help people feel a little less alone at night and more easily fall asleep. New episodes are released twice per week.
Fun fact: Dearest Scooter also has a spin-off podcast for all the Game of Thrones fans out there called Game Of Drones, which is described as "part bedtime story and part high school class you can't stay awake for."
For more cozy, calming bedtime stories, look no further than Nothing Much Happens, a podcast hosted by yoga and meditation teacher Kathryn Nicolai. As the name suggests, the podcast recounts stories where, well, nothing much happens. It’s what Nicolai calls a “soft landing spot for your mind” and a way to prevent racing thoughts from disrupting sleep. The stories are told twice, and a bit slower the second time in order to ease you into a good night's sleep.
If this format is up your alley, give Boring Books For Bedtime a listen, too!
Leave it to host Otis Gray to lull you to sleep by reading old books in a soothing, baritone voice. Every Sunday, he picks a classic tale—such as Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, or Little Women—and reads a select passage. Episodes range from 30 minutes to upwards of two hours in order to help you effectively “shut off” your brain at the end of the day.
In this sleep meditation podcast, host Mary Meckly spends a short 10 minutes discussing a different theme each day, including managing negative emotions, maintaining composure when things go wrong, manifesting your dreams, etc. Listen in to the guided meditations at night or in the morning in order to help manage stress, one of the leading contributors to poor sleep.
READ MORE: How Stress Affects Your Sleep
For help falling AND staying asleep.
ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, is a sensation triggered by soft sounds. It originally gained popularity on YouTube, where you’ll find videos of people whispering, slowly and deliberately turning the pages of an old book, typing, or crinkling a bag of chips. The Sleep and Relax ASMR podcasts takes a cue from the power of these isolated, ambient sounds to help listeners relax and fall asleep. Released weekly, the episodes cover everything from cold creeks to rain on a veranda, sounds of the Tokyo metro to the corner barbershop.
With over 200 guided sleep meditations (and counting), Tracks To Relax is a go-to resource to help calm your mind and body while helping you feel more present at the end of the day—the host’s incredibly soothing voice certainly doesn’t hurt. If you’re a big napper, check out the spin-off podcast for guided nap meditations.
Each week, two new Sleep & Study podcast episodes are released. They’re typically around 20 minutes long—just enough time to help you either focus or relax. ASMR topics covered include the sounds of a busy cafe, a relaxing beach, or a peaceful museum—perfect sleep-inducing ambient noise.
Hosted by musician Jim Butler, Deep Energy combines New Age Electronic music with ambient sounds, resulting in unique, long-form soundscapes suited for sleep, meditation, relaxation, massage, yoga, and reiki.
If you're looking for unique, far-fetched, original fables and curious tales, Stories From The Borders Of Sleep is for you. Hosted by Seymour Jacklin, the podcast is uniquely soothing and the perfect way to "cross the border" into a good night's rest.
That leaves you feeling refreshed and well-rested.
It's not as weird as it sounds, promise. But in Sleep Whispers, the host will essentially whisper readings and ramblings to help you relax, which is a form of ASMR. It's interesting enough to want to listen, but not TOO engaging or vocally strong to over-excite and get in the way of shut-eye.
No, this isn’t a dedicated sleep podcast—instead, it focuses on exploring happiness in all its forms. However, there is one episode we highly recommend tuning into: How To Get Sleep In Anxious Times (like during a pandemic). Over the course of an hour and 20 minutes, host Dan Harris chats with Dr. Donn Posner, a leader in the field of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, about tips for how to improve sleep.
Hosted by BBC Radio 3, Slow Radio calls itself "an antidote to today's frenzied world," and we're inclined to agree. Listen in and let the nature sounds of the earth—from the beaches of Costa Rica to the brushing leaves in a Swedish forest—serve as your immersive, auditory sleep aid.
For more behavioral tips that’ll help you get better sleep, check out the following: