Part audiobook, part radio show, the podcast is a fairly new form of media that is transforming all kinds of life experiences, from layovers to insomnia. Learn how a car engine works, how to get the job you want, or how the Cold War began. The range of topics is seemingly endless and ever expanding.
And this is good news for those of us who might need a little support in falling asleep or going back to sleep. Even if you share a bed, podcasts and a comfortable set of ear buds means you can press play and relax into sleep, without bothering anyone with lights or noise.
While you might end up finding your own perfect podcast for sleep aid, here are a few of my favorites and good ones to start with, listed by category. For some, a more sleep-focused podcast will work wonders. For others of us, we may need a little dialogue, story or lesson to zone in, then zone out of. Not listed here are many musical podcasts, if you do better with just soothing sounds.
How to listen to these podcasts:
- Look for the Podcast icon on iPhones or Sticher Radio on Android phones.
- Download a couple of episodes in advance, varying from engaging to more meditative
- If you can’t fall asleep initially, read a book first (ideally fiction), then when you are trying to fall asleep before the anxiety kicks in start playing a podcast
- Set a timer for the podcast to end, for 30 to 60 minutes (both iphones and android phones have this capability) in order to avoid the podcasts itself waking you up later
- Place the phone on airplane mode
- Volume should be set just low enough that you can hear it
- If sleeping with a partner, place one ear bud on the side where the phone is, as you fall asleep, eventually it will fall out if your ear
Here are some ideas of podcasts that can help you sleep:
- Sleep With Me — The self-proclaimed “Podcast that Puts You to Sleep.” Hosted by Drew Ackerman, this popular podcast (and my personal favorite) uses a unique form of storytelling that is creative, sometimes funny, and always just illogical enough to allow your mind to get pleasantly lost and tired.
- Sleep to Strange — A spin-off of Sleep With Me, these are Ackerman’s stories without introductions, making them a bit shorter but “100% pure strange bedtime stories.”
- Miette’s Bedtime Story — Get short snippets of literary tales by the likes of James Joyce and Edgar Allan Poe, narrated by the mildly mysterious but totally masterful Miette and a handful of guest storytellers.
Documentary and Talk Shows:
- This American Life — The award-winning, often lauded “most popular podcast in the country.” While the content is always fascinating, there’s a reliability and ease that makes this ideal for lulling off to (and finishing the next morning).
- Here’s the Thing — You don’t have to be an Alec Baldwin fan to love his podcast. With guests from Chris Rock to Howard Schultz, it’s conversational, casual and light.
- The Moth — Brought to you by the quintessential storytelling organization of our time, The Moth’s podcast features some of their best life stories told by celebrities, authors, entertainers and even everyday people.
- Touching The Stillness – Paulette Pipe is a Unity Church Minister bringing a non-denominational combination of talk, prayer, music, and introspection with a soothing voice to hopefully put you to sleep in no time.
- On Being — This award-winning public radio podcast hosted by Krista Tippett explores what it means to be human and how we want to live, pursuing “wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge.”
- Audio Dharma — Aimed at Buddhist audiences, this is a beautiful collection of talks given by teachers and speakers at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California.
Learning or Educational:
- Ted Radio Hour — Brought to you by NPR, this podcast ranges on subjects and it is interesting and entertaining. Five different people that have given a TED talk are weaved into a common subject story.
- Radiolab — With a loose focus on science, philosophy and the human experience, this “show about curiosity” lets you dig a little deeper into subjects like evolution, politics and medicine.
- The History Chicks — While there are a number of history podcasts out there, this one specifically focuses on factual and fictional female characters in history, which is pretty great.
I hope you enjoy these great podcasts, and more so, that they will put you to sleep fast.