Despite having a busy job, an energetic toddler, and a painful 5:30 a.m. alarm, I’m no stranger to insomnia. Fortunately, I’ve noticed a growing number of podcasts aimed at putting me to sleep. Below are a few of my faves, which range from simple meditations to grownup bedtime stories to droning tones.
1. Sleep With Me: A Sleep Inducing Podcast
If Ben Stein’s famous Ferris Bueller's Day Off teacher droned on for an hour, it'd make a great episode of Sleep With Me, an odd little podcast that never fails to make me drowsy. In each episode, the narrator delivers meandering, stream-of-consciousness monologues in a monotone that recalls the most boring teacher you ever had. Even if I’m interested in a topic—like his recent ep about the Spanish-language version of Breaking Bad—I’ve never managed to stay awake through the whole thing.
2. Game of Drones: The Game of Thrones Sleep Aid
Hosted by the same guy who narrates Sleep With Me—he goes by “Scooter”—Game of Drones operates under the same concept, only all episodes are related to HBO’s hit series. And while it may seem impossible to make such a bloody, action-packed show sound so boring, rest assured, Scooter’s analysis does just that.
3. The Daily Meditation Podcast
If your sleeplessness results from stress or anxiety, you may want to check out Mary Meckley’s podcast, in which she offers short, guided meditations. While each has a general theme (gaining confidence, releasing anger, etc.), all are delivered in calm, quiet tones suitable for bedtime enjoyment.
4. Meditation Minis
Looking for a way to calm down before you turn out the light? Chel Hamilton’s podcast may do the trick. Episodes last about 10 minutes and take listeners through relaxing meditations about work, health, and, yes, sleep. Rather than immediately launching into the meditation, each episode starts with announcements from the host and a short intro that describes the exercise to come, which is why I prefer to start the podcast before I get under the covers.
5. The Duncan Trussell Family Hour
I usually can’t listen to comedians when I’m trying to fall asleep, but Trussell is one exception. While he makes me laugh—particularly with his surreal, twisted ads at the top of the show—his voice calms me and often provides a picturesque portal to dreamland. Trussell and his guests often discuss art and spirituality at length, and I listen to many eps multiple times, regardless of whether they lull me to sleep or not.
6. On Being
“As if the guests aren’t interesting enough, her voice alone is transcendent,” Molly Ringwald once tweeted about this podcast. And she’s right: Each week, host Krista Tippett offers smart and well-crafted interviews with scientists, thinkers, artists, and others. Her approach settles my nerves and usually teaches me a few things to boot.
SHH… IT’S STORYTIME
7. Welcome to Night Vale
I adore this popular storytelling podcast, and I find its offbeat tales of conspiracies and small-town strange occurrences can help me wind down after a crazy day. (Listen again the next morning during your caffeinated commute, and you’ll discover all sorts of details you missed.)
8. New Yorker Fiction
This podcast delivers fictional tales from all sorts of esteemed writers: T.C. Boyle, Patricia Highsmith, Vladimir Nobokov. And sure, you can listen anytime, but I find they can serve as excellent bedtime stories.
9. The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio
Don’t get me wrong: I love the old stuff. But Americans had much longer attention spans back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and I find vintage radio programs often send me to slumberland. Adam Green updates his podcast daily with cool detective tales (Philip Marlowe and Dragnet among them).
10. Deep Energy 2.0: Music for Sleep, Meditation, Relaxation, Massage and Yoga
The title says it all: If voices keep you awake, look for a podcast that omits them, like this one. Each hour-long mix includes ambient sounds to induce sleep (or accompany your best downward-facing dog). The only episode I’d suggest you avoid is the latest one with spooky Halloween-y music, which might induce a haunted nightmare.