The 5 best sleep podcasts

February 13, 2017 SNOOZE CULTURE

Podcasts are omnipresent during our waking hours, so it’s no surprise that in a world yearning for more sleep, a subset of them is now helping the tired masses improve the quantity—and/or quality—of their rest.

From series meant to help listeners drift into dreamland to those that accidentally gained popularity because of their naturally soothing effect, here are five of the best sleep podcasts to lay you down to sleep better than counting sheep ever could.

Best Sleep Podcasts - Sleep With Me

Sleep With Me

Dullness is a selling point for “Sleep With Me” a podcast billed as a “lulling, droning, boring bedtime stories to distract your racing mind” before bed. Releasing a handful of one- to two-hour podcasts each week, creator Drew Ackerman has identified a brand of low-craft storytelling that even The New Yorker says is ideal for putting the listener to sleep.

“‘The ideal bedtime story,’ according to Nitun Verma, a national spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is one that ‘doesn’t build upon itself,'” the magazine reports, “like a movie “with a lot of parallel stories that don’t connect at the end.”

Best Sleep Podcasts - Deep Energy

Deep Energy 2.0

For some, the perfect sonic sendoff at day’s end is more musical and meditative in nature, and that’s a need the Deep Energy 2.0 podcast seeks to meet with a blend of New Age-inspired soundscapes. Delivering a calming mix of music designed to help the brain relax into a restful state, the series ranges from 30 minutes to an hour or more with each episode.

Crafted for use by massage therapists and yoga instructors as well, the tracks feature slow, sustained tones reminiscent of meditation soundtracks. All are well-suited to lull the mind into a state of serenity before slipping further into complete physical rest.

Best Sleep Podcasts - Miette's Bedtime Story

Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast

Straying from the sleep academy’s definition of a great formula for somnolence, Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast chooses instead to delight listeners with entertaining stories delivered in the soothing voice of a professional book narrator. The reader, quaintly named Miette (the French term for “small sweet thing”), describes her own voice as a “soothing soporific.”

Indeed, the subtle modulations in her narration are tranquil to the point of being nearly narcotic. That’s probably why the series, which features classic short fiction and unknown writing alike, has remained popular for nearly a decade.

Best Sleep Podcasts - Garrison Keillor

The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor

When Garrison Keillor set out to produce a snippet of “The Writer’s Almanac” each day, he certainly didn’t intend to put anyone to sleep with it. Alas, the familiar gruff of a voice best known as the longtime host of public radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” lends itself to a state of repose for many who hear it. For some who play the podcast at night, it’s akin to having a parental figure recite stories of yore just before bed.

Each five-minute transmission includes Keillor reading a poem and adding some “on this day” historic context to round out the recording—no matter the time of day it’s played, it’s still as classic and comforting as a mint on a pillow.

Best Sleep Podcasts - Sleep Stories by Calm

Sleep Stories by Calm

Those who download the Calm application for stress reduction and more can now enjoy an additional feature: the “Sleep Stories” experience, which the app’s developers rolled out in 2016 to help users fall asleep more efficiently. The audio clips are offered as an in-app purchase and made in a way that mimics childhood bedtime stories.

The tales feature the droll, deadpan voice work of Ben Stein, best known for his iconic—and repetitive—line in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (“Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?”). In his signature pitch, he renders a mix of original and well-known readings.

Whether you’re seeking peaceful musical tones or an easygoing human voice, you can probably find a podcast to help you get a good night’s rest. Just don’t forget to set your morning alarm before you hit “play.”

Written by Amy Lynch

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