Do you remember begging mom or dad for a story before bed? Listening to a short tale would get you in the mood to sleep and prepare you for your journey to dreamland.

As you grew up, you probably stopped asking for these nightly story sessions. You saw it as corny, childish, or you just didn’t have the time. But what if a bedtime story’s effectiveness goes beyond childhood? It turns out adults can still benefit too!

Best Bedtime Stories for Adults

Whether you’re stressed or simply trying to get in that sleepy mood, bedtime stories are an effective way of getting yourself some sleep.

The best part is you don’t even have to read them! While some people still prefer reading, technology makes it possible for you to listen to them instead. Audiobooks, and most recently, podcasts, give you the power to choose when and where you want to listen.

Below are some of the best podcasts that offer bedtime stories for adults that will help your relax.

1. Nothing Much Happens

You’ll love Nothing Much Happens if you’re into slow-paced stories and repetition. Sights, sounds, tastes, and other sensory details are emphasized to create a more satisfying journey to dreamland.

In each episode, creator Kathryn Nicolai reads a story twice, the second time much slower than the first, giving you time to relax and prepare your mind for sleep. The stories don’t really relay plots, but rather simple pleasures like walking your dog or enjoying the holidays.

2. Sleepy

Sleepy is for those who miss the bedtime stories of their childhood. Every week, host Otis Gray revives old books in the public domain to help you drift off with ease.

Think of tales like Hansel & Gretel, Robin Hood, and Beauty and the Beast being read to you by a warm, baritone voice. Combine that with the power of nostalgia and you’re off to a good night’s sleep.

3. Sleep With Me 

Sleep With Me is the recommended sleep podcast for insomniacs and people who regularly deal with racing thoughts at night. It’s been around since 2013, with host David Ackerman in character as “Dearest Scooter.”

Each episode is composed of deliberately mundane and rambling stories that take you on many strange but funny tangents. They’re designed to be interesting, but not too interesting to the point they’ll keep you up.

4. Sleep Whispers

Sleep Whispers is a podcast that tackles a variety of topics, from stories, to trivia, chat, random Wikipedia pages—all read in ASMR-inducing whispers. Even the host is aptly named Whispering Harris.

The format of the podcast is meant to distract you from the hectic thoughts that have become commonplace in everyday life. The whispering creates a calming effect that puts you in a better mood for relaxation and sleeping.

5. On A Dark, Cold Night

On a Dark, Cold Night is geared towards horror lovers who find it difficult to sleep. While nightly horrors may seem counterproductive to sleeping, narrator Kristen Zaza’s slow, raspy voice strangely lulls you to sleep.

Each episode features an original story that capitalizes on the eerieness of horror to help calm the mind. As the narrator said, everyone needs that one creepy friend to tell you bedtime/ghost stories.

6. Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast

Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast is for people who love to listen to actual works of literature. It regularly features classic stories written by literature’s greatest writers.

The podcast also features stories from obscure and overlooked writers that give listeners a new perspective on literature. And it’s all read in a crisp, warm Scottish accent that is just ideal for narrating stories.

7. Get Sleepy

Get Sleepy is all about using mindfulness elements such as breath awareness to prepare you for sleep. Each episode starts with a meditation segment to relax your mind and get you in the right mood for bed.

You’re then introduced to a calming story, from childlike tales to historically inspired narratives that will help you drift off in no time.

8. Boring Books for Bedtime

Boring Books for Bedtime is a weekly podcast created for people who have trouble shutting off the “chattering of the brain.” As the title indicates, each episode consists of the team reading something that is mildly amusing, yet simultaneously boring.

Not to mention that they read it “in a rather boring way” to get you relaxed quickly. Think of it as mundane ramblings with a touch of ASMR.

Are Bedtime Stories Important?

The short answer is that yes, bedtime stories are important. Aside from the timeless enjoyment of experiencing them, there are many proven benefits to reading or listening to stories before bed.

Dr. Christine Won, associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and the medical director of Yale Center for Sleep Medicine, says that “a bedtime story works by detracting the mind from self-sabotaging thoughts and worries, which allows the body’s adrenaline to come down so the brain can transition into the sleep state.”

And while research about podcast-listening habits is limited, a promising study in 2019 found that more than half of 1,500 people surveyed in the US have listened to podcasts to relax before falling asleep.

That, combined with the growing attention to sleep podcasts and mindfulness apps such as Calm and Headspace, seem to suggest that bedtime stories or podcasts are part of many people’s nightly routines.

Podcasts can also stimulate multiple parts of the brain, including the areas responsible for memory construction and sensory processing. And once you fall alseep, the brain processes all of that information for later use.

Essentially, bedtime stories help you shift your mind to a more relaxed state after a day of fast-paced thoughts. They enable you to bypass the usual symptoms of overthinking (racing thoughts, replaying past mistakes and events, fixating on things you can’t control or change) and sleep paradox (the more you try to sleep, the harder it is to doze off).

Of course, the bedtime stories you’ll read as an adult are vastly different from those you read when you were a kid. A better way to think of them are as stories you simply read during bedtime. They can be poetry, classic and modern literature, or even random facts from the internet.

Do you listen to podcasts before you sleep? Share your experience in the comments below!


If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like: