Best Podcasts to Help You Relax and Fall Asleep

Please welcome Sarah from Sleep Adviser for today's guest post. As someone who struggles with sleep I thought it would be nice to have someone share a different way to help you get to sleep. 

Best Podcasts to Help You Relax and Fall Asleep

The rise of podcasting has been likened by some to the development of the printing press. 

When Guttenberg first unveiled his invention, writing had already existed for nearly nine thousand years; ever since those clever Sumerians began scratching lines on rocks in the Middle East. But taking the power to distribute ideas away from the few people rich enough to employ a team of scribes – and giving it to the common public instead – changed everything. For example, with nothing more than a few thousand printed pamphlets, Martin Luther was able to take on the might of the Catholic Church and reshape the world.

The podcast is a seemingly small change in an already familiar process. What’s so new about listening to people talk? Public radio, after all, has existed for over a hundred years. True. 

But to get your show on traditional radio you have to get hired first – then have your content shaped and censored by wishes of producers, station managers, network accountants and, above all, advertisers. Now all that has changed. 

Now anyone with a simple recording app on their phone can make a podcast, publish it for free and get their ideas into the ears of the world, completely uncensored. If these ideas take hold, the potential audience is unlimited. That’s why podcasts are revolutionary. 

But how will any of this help me sleep?! I hear you cry. Well, it won’t… but I just wanted to start off with an ode to the podcast; to what I think its power is and can be. It might be obvious by now but I freaking love podcasts! Not a day goes by when I don’t listen to at least one – usually more. And due to my inability to sleep through the night, more often than not I listen to podcasts when I’m all tucked up in bed. 

Now. There are tens, if not hundreds, of podcasts that I could recommend to you – but choosing a podcast to help you relax and get in the mood for sleep is a slightly trickier prospect. The content has to be interesting but not too interesting, the voices engaging but not too excitable. Below are some of my tried and tested favourites... 

Lore

A show about scary non-fiction stories might not seem like the ideal thing to listen to when searching for sleep but believe me – it works. Well, at least it does for me! There is something about presenter Aaron Manke’s delivery and the accompanying ambient music from composer Chad Lawson that manages to soothe and relax while simultaneously bristling the hairs on the back of your neck.

Each episode takes a look at a different aspect of spooky folklore through the lens of genuine historical events. The show has been called the podcast equivalent of the iconic campfire storytime experience.

The Memory Palace

In all-too-infrequent episodes, usually once a month or so, presenter Nate DiMeo briefly narrates touching tales from the past lives of fascinating but unsung individuals. It’s a history show that ignores the big moments and instead focuses on overlooked moments that the audience will never heard of before. Each episode is tightly and beautifully produced.  

One of the fathers of the podcasting revolution – Roman Mars of 99% Invisible (more on him below) – describes The Memory Palace perfectly when he calls it, "sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hysterical, and often a wonderful mix of both."

Criminal

A podcast about real crime. Imagine an audio version of Netflix’s Making a Murderer and you’re in the ballpark.

Each episode examines a different aspect of criminal behaviour; from the big and gruesome to the small and amusing. Like Lore, the content of Criminal may not always be the most relaxing for the more squeamish listener – but the power of a good, sleep-inducing podcast is often in the beauty of the production and the tone of the presenter's voice, rather than the subject matter. Criminal’s host Phoebe Judge (yes, her real name) has a melodic and sonorous voice that makes you feel like you’re sinking into a oversized audio bubble bath.

(If Phoebe's voice doesn’t manage to lull you to sleep, don’t worry – you’re not beyond hope. Take a look at the Sleep Advisor blog to discover a world of evidence-based sleep advice. It would be ‘criminal’ not to! Sorry.)

99% Invisible

Speaking of taking an audio bath, no one (and I mean no one) has a more perfect voice for soothing you into a sleepy state than the host of 99% Invisible, Roman Mars (again, his real name). Roman’s voice is deep, silky and so engaging that he amazingly has the power to make 30-minute long podcasts about typography and flag design fascinating, even to those who couldn’t care less about kerning and don’t put any value in vexillography.

Well, there you have it friends – four beautifully produced, engaging and soothing podcasts to take the edge off your day, to entertain, inform and relax you before bed. If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up falling asleep before the end of each episode; which is good news because then you can listen to them all over again in the morning! 

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