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The 15 best sleep podcasts

Trouble sleeping? Or just want something nice to listen to while doing so? Do we have the list for you!

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski

While most of us have fallen asleep in the middle of listening to some podcast or other, there’s also an entire, surprisingly prolific genre of podcasts specifically devoted to helping insomniacs nod off.

There are many differing sleep podcasts to choose from, but let’s be frank: there’s only so much variation here. The purpose of all of these podcasts is to help you to fall asleep, so there is a certain inevitable repetitiveness, with the goals of almost all of them being to either relax you to sleep or – in many cases – bore you until you lose consciousness.

Will they get the job done better than listening to a particularly droney episode of ‘This American Life’? Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe you’ll get to sleep only marginally faster. But these sleep podcasts have been created with care, by people who really believe in what they’re doing: it’s time to turn on, tune in, and nod off.

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The daddy of sleep podcasts, Drew Ackerman’s droll ‘Sleep with Me’ has been running biweekly since 2013. Essentially it’s a series of droney shaggy dog stories and dreamy lullaby advertising jingles that aim to put you asleep by distracting your brain via the obscure, dense and often downright boring knottiness of the stories. It seems likely that ‘Sleep with Me’s more loyal listeners are more there for the stories than the sleep, but it’ll help put you in the mood, no question.

Also presented by Drew Ackerman, this sister podcast to ‘Sleep with Me’ is… wild (albeit in a very sleepy way). In essence, it’s a series of long (usually at least 90 minutes) extremely rambling recaps of each episode of ‘Game of Thrones’, essentially taking the cure that it can bore you to sleep via the medium of plot synopsis. Naturally, there are no more being made, but there’s plenty for you to be going on, and if you’re feeling particularly bold, there are season-long megamixes to keep you droning away all night.


Altogether less arch than some of the entries on this list, ‘Nothing Much Happens’ is a sweetly inconsequential podcast that consists of yoga and meditation teacher Kathryn Nicolai offering up gentle half-hour-ish stories in which very little happens - not nothing at all, of course, but nothing that’s going to get the pulse-pounding too hard.

If you think following a story is going to stimulate your brain too much, check out the BBC’s ultra lo-fi ‘Slow Radio’. Essentially a lengthy series that mixes calming music with field recordings, episodes include recordings of the bells of Venice or the sound of winter in Japan. Although lightly presented, they are – as you might have guessed – far slower than a normal documentary of the subject would ever be, pretty and ponderous semi-ambient immersions perfect for drifting off to.


There is perhaps no podcast so genuinely, ruthlessly focussed on the business of actually getting you to sleep as ‘Get Sleepy’. Hosted by Brit Tom Jones – a veteran of sleep radio and apps – each episode of ‘Get Sleepy’ combines an opening sleep meditation sequence combined with a gentle story designed to help you nod off. Unlike many other sleepcasts, which are in essence entertainingly winging it, Get Sleepy takes input from scientific experts and is very earnest about taking reader feedback on board.

The USP of ‘Sleep Whispers’ is… whispering. The content runs the gamut from poetry to, no kidding, readings of Wikipedia articles, all united by the fact they’re read in a soothing whisper (as opposed to a sinister one) by host ‘Whispering’ Harris, the sole vocal presence on the hundreds of episodes. If it works for you, there’s a huge library to draw upon.


Voice actor and ‘sleep geek’ host Andrew has a distinctive, precise diction that you’ll either find engrossingly hypnotic or distractingly weird. If you fall into the former camp, you’re onto a winner with ‘Send Me To Sleep’, which combines Andrew’s unusual tones with the usual blend of short stories and meditation exercises. 

This premium cast from meditation and mindfulness is another serious entry on the list and focuses on finding the right, relaxed headspace to transport you to the Land of Nod via the medium of long, dreamy descriptions of specific environments. Showing you where the big bucks go, it has a partnership with the musician John Legend: recent output from him includes a podcast of the man himself soothingly describing an empty concert hall, plus an eight-hour mix of downbeat romantic tunes.


If you really want to go hard on the old ‘bore yourself into unconsciousness’ approach, then Sharon Handy’s ‘Boring Books for Bedtime’ is really quite something. Each episode, she soothingly reads out something truly tedious, from John Ashton’s ‘The History of Bread’ to a guide to North American Wildflowers. And if it doesn’t send you to sleep, the odds are you’ll learn something genuinely improving, albeit in a dull, dull way.

As a rule, the podcasts on this list are aimed at adults (though that’s not to say some of the more straightforward storytelling ones wouldn’t work fine for kids too). But ‘Goodnight World’ is just for kids, being a limited team-up between Headspace and Sesame Street, with Big Bird, the Count etc on hand to tell soothing stories and guide kids through a spot of light meditation.


One for the proper sleep geeks, ‘Sleep Life’s self-declared goal is to ‘help you unlock your sleeping potential’. While the show - presented by Georgie Barrett and Alex Goldstein - is soothing and meditative and all that good stuff, it also serves as a factual series about what makes for good sleep hygiene, with the hosts earnestly interviewing a series of scientists and experts. It may be too much for some, but if you see sleep as serious business, then this is the podcast for you.

Another storytelling podcast, ‘Snoozecast’s thing is that it now has a huge library of classic public domain works to draw from, including a large number of classic children’s stories, all read out in soothing tones. Yes, it’s great for kids. But its bigger following is from adults who’d like to drift off to something comforting and nostalgic, stories half-remembered from their own childhoods. 


Another prime example of the ‘sleep by boredom’ genre of podcast, ‘I Can’t Sleep’ provides slickly tedious documentaries on subjects ranging from the internal combustion engine to ‘boring lava fields’. You know the drill: a fact-heavy, glacially paced journey through the week’s chosen subject, with the outside chance that you’ll not only drift off nicely but also pick up some useless trivia.

Where many other sleepcasts have the air of being a bit churned out (not unreasonable if your goal is to bore listeners into unconsciousness by reading them Wikipedia pages), ‘Stories from the Borders of Sleep’ is the quality artisanal stuff. Written and presented by Seymour Jacklin, they’re just beautiful, quirky, detailed bedtime stories. New episodes only pop up irregularly - you can’t rush this sort of thing - but the back catalogue is a real treat if you’re new to it.


When all else fails… why not just listen to some New Age music..? There’s an awful lot of choice in the field, and clearly, you could just bung on a radio station or playlist. But if you’re looking for a well-crafted, long-running podcast, you can’t really argue with Jim Butler’s daily ‘Deep Energy’ - perfect for meditating or lulling you to sleep with gentle ambient whisperings.


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