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5 Podcasts For When You Can't Get To Sleep

Image credit: David Stewart/

If you’ve ever worked the night shift, been a freelancer, or are someone who suffers from insomnia, you’re intimately familiar with not being able to get a full night’s sleep. I can relate; for years I had trouble falling and staying asleep throughout the night.

One night two years ago, after failing to fall asleep in complete silence without any lights or distractions and not wanting to rely on over the counter sleep medication, I realized that I needed to return to my childhood roots and figure out what helped me sleep then. The answer was simple: bedtime stories -- specifically, bedtime podcasts that help guide the listener to sleep.

So fret not fellow creatures of the night, because I’m sharing what I’ve found with you! Below is a list of five sleep-specific podcasts that will have you drifting off in no time.

Sleep With Me: The Podcast That Puts You To Sleep

The premise: Host Drew Ackerman (AKA Scooter) uses “pointless meandering”, “superfluous tangents”, and “lulling, soothing, creaky-dulcet tones” to help you fall asleep to his increasingly boring bedtime stories.

Why I can’t stop listening: Sleep With Me was the first bedtime podcast I listened to as an adult, and it’s put me to sleep 100% of the time. Some episodes are themed (see the “Mandaborian” and “Game of Drones” episodes) but all episodes are incredibly tedious and over an hour long to ensure that you’ll be asleep by the time it ends.

Boring Books For Bedtime

The premise: Producer Sharon Handy reads copyright-free materials to help you fall asleep.

Why I can’t stop listening: With mellow meditation music playing in the background the entire time, Boring Books For Bedtime reminds me of when my kindergarten teacher used to read to our class during nap time: slowly, softly, and with a gentle lilt that rocks you to sleep like a newborn in a cradle. If you’d rather listen to a bedtime podcast without the meandering of Sleep With Me, Boring Books For Bedtime promises to be “a quiet little podcast for a noisy world.”

To get a sense of what you’ll be listening to, the podcast says to “Think Aristotle, Emerson, Galileo, and whoever wrote the 1897 Sears Catalog. These boring words, read in a boring way, give your active mind something to focus on so you can chill out and get some sleep for once.”

Boring Books For Bedtime episodes are around an hour long.

Scare You To Sleep

The premise: Created and hosted by Shelby Scott, this podcast is a weekly roundup of scary bedtime stories submitted by listeners “read in a soothing voice that will [act] as a siren song to the terrifying content you will hear.”

Why I can’t stop listening: If I’m being honest (which I am, because this is my personal blog) I can’t listen to scary stories when I’m trying to fall asleep. However, I know that there are people who do enjoy the thrill of being scared to sleep and I encourage them to check this podcast out.

The reviews for Scare You To Sleep are overwhelmingly positive, with one listener saying, “I love this. I love ASMR for falling asleep and I love horror podcasts. I never knew the two could be combined so effectively. Shelby manages to tell some amazingly creepy stories in such a soothing voice that she carries me off to dreamland. I highly recommend this for horror fans, whether you want to fall asleep or not.”

Episodes range from five minutes to almost two hours in length.

Nothing Much Happens; Bedtime Stories To Help You Sleep

The premise: Host Kathryn Nicolai reads “bedtime stories for grownups, in which nothing much happens, you feel good and then you fall asleep.” Stories are read twice and go a bit slower the second time.

Why I can’t stop listening: I started listening to Nicolai after a long, hectic, New York City day when my networking emails wouldn’t send, other important freelance correspondence kept being sent to my spam folder, and I was frustrated with myself for moving halfway across the country without securing a 9-5 after months of searching. Nicolai’s voice and her assurances that the story she’d read would be “a landing pad” for the mind lifted all those frustrations I had away.

Each story in Nothing Much Happens feels like its own miniature, cozy world. The pilot episode, for example, is a point of view from someone coming home on a drizzling day, feeling the security of the locks on their door as they shut away the outside weather, curling up with their cat, and drifting off into a nap. It’s wonderfully simplistic and it surprised me how quickly my mind quieted down as I imagined myself coming home on a rainy day and doing the same thing.

Episodes for Nothing Much Happens are about a half hour in length.

The Walking Podcast

The premise: Journalist and author Jon Mooallem records his walks through the Pacific Northwest.

Why I can’t stop listening: There’s no dialogue. No story. There’s only the sound of Mooallem’s steps crunching on the ground and the ambient noise around him as he takes his walk. With your eyes closed, The Walking Podcast sounds like being in someone’s pocket after they butt dial you and deciding to stay on the line in order to eavesdrop. It’s both soothing and intriguing to hear, and episodes range from a half hour to an hour.



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