Podcasts used to serve only niche groups and had fairly small audiences. These days, they’re as plentiful and popular as ever, covering nearly every topic you can imagine; sports, news, TV show recaps, true crime, and yes, even sleep!
While many of us listen to our favorite podcasts to learn or be entertained, some enjoy them as something to listen to while they drift off.
Some podcasts offer guided meditation sessions and are even dedicated to helping you sleep.
So, if you’re already not part of 120 million-plus podcast listeners in the US or don’t listen to podcasts at bedtime, we’ve got a few reasons why you should consider them, plus the types of podcasts you can try to help you sleep.
If you’re a SleepScore user and are looking for a way to listen to podcasts as you drift off to sleep but still want to track your sleep, check out the SleepScore Max. While our sonar-based SleepScore app doesn’t allow for audio to be played while tracking your sleep at this time, the SleepScore Max bedside monitor allows you to enjoy our best in-class sleep tracking while hitting play on your favorite podcast to drift off.
Benefits of listening to podcasts for sleep
1. It can help you curb revenge bedtime procrastination
You lay on your bed, turn off the lights, and it’s time to shut your eyes. But, you don’t. Instead, you pick up your phone, reply to a few messages, scroll through one or more social media apps, or watch a few short videos on Youtube.
You finally decide to drop your phone, but you see you only have a few hours until it’s time to wake up again. You just engaged in revenge bedtime procrastination, a common phenomenon where people postpone sleep to catch up on fun activities late into the night.
Instead, try playing a favorite meditation or relaxation podcast when you lay down. This way, you won’t be engaging in other stimulating activities that can keep you awake.
2. It may help you relax and wind down.
Listening to podcasts can be an ideal way to relax and wind down after a long day. You don’t need to do anything other than lay down, close your eyes, and listen to calming voices lull you to bed.
According to experts, podcasts are meant to be distracting. So if you’ve got something on your mind that might keep you up at night, listening to a podcast might distract you from your thoughts and help you focus on falling asleep, as long as the show you’re listening to isn’t centered around heavy or stimulating issues.
Relaxation or meditation podcasts, where the host puts you through a guided relaxation exercise or meditation session, can be beneficial for helping you relax. A 2021 study found that 20-minute audio of guided relaxation techniques like deep breathing and guided imagery reduced stress levels and promoted relaxation in the participants.
3. It may support mental well-being.
Meditation and mindfulness podcasts can help you feel grounded. Numerous studies have looked at the benefits of meditation and suggested that it may be effective for improving mental health, which, in turn, supports sleep.
A 2021 study highlighted that mindfulness meditation might improve physical and mental wellbeing and found that mindfulness meditation may reduce suicidal ideation and stress levels and improve sleep health in people with suicide risk. Likewise, a 2022 study observed that listening to 5-minute mindfulness audio for two weeks significantly improved sleep quality and mindfulness and reduced depression in people with Covid-19.
4. It may help you sleep better.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, it might be that something’s on your mind. If that’s the case, podcasts can be a helpful distraction to keep you from worrying and help you relax and sleep.
Plus, meditation and sleep podcasts are designed to help people with problems sleeping get their nightly rest, and studies suggest that they (meditation exercises) might work. A 2021 study indicates that Heartfulness meditation, a meditative practice that seeks to promote a balanced mind, may improve sleep and reduce feelings of loneliness.
Similarly, a 2019 study suggests that Heartfulness guided relaxation audio for sleep and meditation may reduce insomnia symptoms in people with chronic insomnia and help them stop using sedative-hypnotics medications for rest.
5. It helps you build a bedtime ritual.
Experts have long recognized the effect of a bedtime routine—relaxing activities you engage in about an hour or less before bedtime—in helping you fall and stay asleep.
If you already have a bedtime routine, you can include listening to calming podcasts. You can listen to these podcasts before bedtime or play them till you fall asleep. If you don’t, consider building a bedtime routine with activities like having a warm bath, skincare, and listening to audio that help you relax, feel grounded, and relieve your stress levels.
Listening to a relaxing podcast episode every night can become an essential part of your bedtime routine, preparing you for restorative sleep.
Podcasts to listen to for sleep
Not all podcasts can help you sleep. Podcasts that talk about the news, interview podcasts, podcasts that tell thriller stories, and so forth may be too engaging, and you may stay awake to enjoy them.
Instead, consider podcasts that are not necessarily boring but don’t excite you so much that you can’t sleep. Podcasts that fit this description include:
1. Meditation podcasts
These podcasts put you through a guided meditation session to help you feel grounded, calm, and relaxed. If you’re tensed, these sessions may relieve you.
Some popular examples include:
- Tara Brach Podcast
- Daily Meditation Podcast
- Tracks to Relax: Guided Sleep Meditations
- Meditation Minis
2. Relaxation music podcasts
In these types of podcasts, the host plays relaxing music, which can help you fall asleep. Here are a few popular examples:
- Slow Radio
- Classical Music Discoveries
- Contemporary piano music
- Meditation music. Peaceful calm music 528, 432 Hz
3. Storytelling podcasts
These podcasts read stories to you, bringing you back to childhood and induce the feeling of comfort and safety necessary for sleep. Go for podcasts that tell stories in genres that are less likely to involve too much of your imagination or excite you, like historical fiction or memoirs.
A few popular storytelling podcasts include:
- Nothing Much Happens: Bedtime Stories For Adults
- In our time
- Stories from the Borders of Sleep
- Boring Books for Bedtime
- Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast
4. Sleep podcasts
Some sleep podcasts tell bedtime stories, play white noise or other sleep sounds, or lead you through a guided meditation. But all have one goal, to help you sleep.
Here are some top-rated ones:
It might take a while to figure out which podcast helps you drift to dreamland. Try a few and see what works for you. Sometimes, listening to audio may have the opposite effect on your ability to fall and stay asleep. If that’s the case, there’s plenty of other hours in the day to catch up on your favorite podcasts. Do you have any that you’d recommend for sleep and relaxation? Tweet us at @sleepscore!