When we wrote about sounds that can help you to fall asleep in 3 Sounds to Help You Sleep Better at Night, we mentioned podcasts, but we didn’t go into detail, so in this article, we’d like to take a closer look at what podcasts are, how to listen to them, and suggest a few of our favorites for you to try.
If you aren’t familiar with podcasting, you might be wondering what we’re talking about. Podcasts are a bit like radio repackaged for the digital era. In fact, many podcasts are radio shows delivered in a different format. Unlike radio shows, podcasts are audio files that you download and listen to at any time. Typically, people listen on smartphones, but you can play podcasts on many different devices, including laptops and smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod.
Podcasts have become enormously popular over the last few years, and there are many thousands to choose from. Podcast creators range from hobbyists to the largest media organizations in the world, including NPR and the BBC. Anyone with a microphone and a creative spark can create one and make it available for the world to download and listen to.
How to Listen to Podcasts
To listen to a podcast, you need a podcast app. If you own an iPhone, you already have one; it’s called Podcasts. Android users can download Google Podcasts, although it may already be installed on your phone. Both are free.
If you want more advanced features or the free apps don’t suit you, there are also paid podcast apps, including:
To listen to a podcast, open your app and enter its title in the search box. You will see a list of matching podcasts. Click the one you want to listen to and choose to subscribe. The app will download the most recent episode, and you’ll also be able to browse and select older episodes. When a new episode is released, your app downloads it automatically.
For example, if you’re interested in discussions about history, philosophy, and literature, you might like the BBC In Our Time podcast. To listen to it, search for “in our time” in your app’s search box, choose it from the list, and select subscribe.
Most podcasts are free to listen to and are listed in the iTunes Podcast Directory, which is used by apps to find and index podcasts. There are premium podcasts that you have to pay for premium podcasts, but we’ll stick with free in this article.
Once a podcast episode is downloaded, you can listen to it as you would any other audio file, and you can pause, skip forward and backward, and move between podcasts at will.
Before we look at some excellent podcasts to help you sleep, there’s one more feature you should be aware of: sleep timers. Most podcast apps include a sleep timer that stops playback after a predetermined period. If you’re using podcasts to help you sleep, a sleep time makes sure you aren’t woken up later in the night.
5 Podcasts to Help You Sleep
There are thousands of podcasts, so you’ll almost certainly find one to interest you, but we’d like to suggest a few that are designed to help you fall asleep while listening.
- Sleep With Me — One of the oldest sleep-focused podcasts, Sleep with Me specializes in long and rambling stories told in a monotone by host Drew Ackerman.
- Slow Radio — This is a BBC podcast that plays immersive sounds drawn from a wide range of scenarios. Recent episodes have focused on music and nature sounds, the sound of a train journey on the Flying Scotsman, and binaural recordings of a woodland soundscape.
- Sleepy — A series of classic tales told in host Otis Gray’s deep and satisfying baritone voice. Recent episodes include stories from Frankenstein, Treasure Island, and Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales.
- Stories from the Borders of Sleep — Seymour Jacklin writes the stories he delivers in this podcast, creating an imaginative scenario to occupy your mind as you nod off.
- Deep Energy Podcast — If ambient music is more to your taste than nature sounds or a well-told tale, the Deep Energy podcast is for you. Each episode features just under an hour of soothing ambient and new age music (once you skip the ad at the beginning).
That’s five of our favorite bedtime podcasts, but there are many more out there if these don’t do the trick. Podcasts are a great way to find a vast diversity of voices and sounds to help you fall asleep, but sound is just one strategy in the fight against insomnia. To learn more natural solutions to sleeplessness, read Natural Ways to Help You Sleep Better: The Ultimate Guide to Good Sleep.
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