The Best Podcasts To Help You Sleep
6 min read
Last Modified 15 September 2023 First Added 28 October 2017
Let’s be honest. Sometimes drifting off can be a little tricky when you’re not particularly tired. In those cases, getting a little push can help a lot, and if counting sheep just isn’t cutting it, there are some other things you can try. One solution we love is sleep podcasts.
According to a study exploring sleep quality, ‘Music may have positive effects on sleep via muscle relaxation and distraction from thoughts’, and certain sounds are more beneficial to drifting off than others. So, we’ve scoured the internet to find the best podcasts to help you sleep, including ASMR, dull debates, meditations and bedtime stories.
The Sleep Matters podcast from Dreams has you covered if you’re looking for a podcast to soothe your woes about common sleep problems. Hosted by sleep expert Dr Pixie McKenna, this podcast discusses sleep routines, getting children to sleep and how to make the most of your sleep environment.
While this may not be one of the best podcasts to fall asleep to, it can help to inform you how to improve your sleep, or may even put your mind to rest on sleep issues you’ve been worrying about.
You can listen to Sleep Matters on Spotify.
Read more: Is Your Daily Routine Harming Your Sleep?
Meditation is always a sure way to get some sleep. This consists of soothing voices coupled with dreamy scenarios, on top of deep breathing techniques. Studies have proven that mindfulness meditation helps fight insomnia and improve sleep. So, here are our favourite guided meditation podcasts to help you sleep:
The Mindful Minute is a short-form podcast that is designed to give busy people a way into meditation as a whole. A perfect launching point for those new to the space, it’s a great option for a pre-bed routine or to help you relax more and drift quickly into sleep.
The Daily Meditation Podcast offers relaxing audio clips which last roughly 10-20 minutes. Mary Meckley chooses themes on each podcast, such as confidence or happiness. These are then delivered in a soothing voice accompanied by music designed to help you drift. She has over 3000 different podcast tracks to choose from, so you’re sure to find something you like.
Have you ever sat through something that, while interesting, isn’t the most engaging? Remember how you felt a bit tired as you kept listening? There’s a reason for that – according to Science Daily, this is because the part of the brain associated with motivation, the nucleus accumbens, can also produce sleep. ‘The new findings may explain why we tend to fall asleep in the absence of motivating stimuli, i.e., when bored,’ they explain.
Who would have guessed? It does explain why people often put on a pre-watched show or a long movie to doze off to, but there are some great options in the world of podcasts, too. Here’s some of our choices:
The Sleep With Me podcast is a one-man show as narrator Drew Ackerman rambles on about any topic in the most monotonous voice you’ve ever heard (in a good way!). As Ackerman speaks his thoughts in these hour-long podcasts, they are so hard to follow that the listener naturally switches off. This will rival any tedious lecture you’ve had to sit through.
From the experts of BBC 4, In Our Time discusses historical figures and theories. While these 45-minute segments may be interesting to some, the slow pace of Melvyn Bragg’s soporific voice will help many listeners achieve maximum Zzzs.
Children aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a story before bed. Talking to Stylist, Dr Neil Stanley says:
Children like hearing the same bedtime stories again and again. It’s enough to distract them from their worries, but they don’t have to concentrate fully. It’s the same for adults.
This is why it’s best to opt for stories that you don’t actively engage in but can give you sweet dreams. Here are some examples:
In this podcast, many well-respected authors read a short story from the New Yorker’s archives. While the stories are interesting, they’re unlikely to keep you up at night and can send you off to many exotic places without actually leaving your bed. Listen to a New Yorker Fiction story tonight.
For those wanting an easy option, and not on Apple’s platforms, Just Sleep is a great choice. The narrators read some restful, public domain stories for Spotify users to enjoy. A great alternative for those who already have Spotify ready to go, and easy to listen to all in one place.
Last, but certainly not least, are the more sound-focused podcasts. We’ve talked about the world of ASMR before, and that’s certainly an element of the relaxing tones and whispered words that are often seen in this part of the soundscape.
Whether a sound is helpful or disruptive to your slumber depends on the individual. Neuroscientist Hawley Montgomery-Downs recommends trying specific sounds to see what’s best for you. The most popular noises to aid sleep tend to be white noise or nature sounds, such as ocean waves or rainfall. Here are a couple of podcasts that we recommend for sleep-inducing sounds:
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is an ever-growing popular phenomenon when it comes to sleep. This refers to the sense of relaxation you feel with certain repetitive sounds, such as tapping or whispering. This podcast features hour-long episodes of a man whispering. He reads things that won’t keep you particularly hooked, such as Wikipedia pages.
For a more soothing and slightly less strange approach, the sleep playlists on Spotify are here to help. This particular playlist exclusively features instrumentals with relaxing melodies. The songs also include sleep-inducing noises, such as rainfall or panpipes.