Bedtime Stories for Adults: The Best Apps and Podcasts to Lull You to Sleep

By Karla Walsh

Attempting to juggle work, family, friends, extracurriculars, exercise, household chores—and, oh yes, the stress of a global pandemic—means that it often feels like there’s barely enough time to take a deep breath, not to mention get adequate rest. As a result, more than 1 in 3 American adults are “short sleepers,” which means they get less than 7 hours of slumber a night, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While numerous studies have suggested that subjecting our eyes to the blue light emitted from our computers, phones and tablets close to bedtime decreases the amount of restful REM sleep and impacts the body’s natural circadian rhythms, tech can actually be a beneficial tool for getting some R&R if used correctly.

Here’s a hint: By lowering the light output and listening instead of looking, you’ll sleep more soundly. And we can’t stress enough the importance of a good night’s sleep.

We also know that bedtime stories don’t have to be for the kids only. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the best bedtime apps to help busy adults sleep deeper each night. Utilizing white noise, meditation techniques and more, these rest-related apps and podcasts offer serenity now.

RELATED: 3 Simple Health Hacks for Better Sleep 

Bedtime Stories for Adults: Apps and Podcasts for Deep Sleep

White Noise Lite App

If you can’t wind down using the automated white noises most machines offer, this is the sleep app for you. It allows you to build your own combo of soothing sounds to create a personalized sleep soundtrack. Layer and loop 40+ sounds already on the app, or record your own to add to your mix. Use it at night for sleep or while working during frazzled moments to help your brain focus.

White Noise Lite App: Free; available in the App Store and on Google Play

Sleep With Me Podcast

Billed as “bedtime stories to help grown ups fall asleep in the deep, dark night,” this app is all about treating us adults to a tale before bed. Inspired by host Drew Ackerman’s own childhood insomnia and with episodes dating back to 2013, each episode of Sleep With Me will talk you through long, subdued and tangent-filled stories. His uber-soothing and monotone voice will likely ease you off into dreamland far before the 60+-minute episode wraps up. Don’t sweat it if you’re still awake, though. There are more than 940 episodes of Sleep With Me in the archives. available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify and on most major podcast streaming services

Sleep Cycle App

Do you ever feel like your alarm rings just as you were finally getting into your sleep groove? Stop hitting snooze and start tracking your sleep patterns with Sleep Cycle. Instead of abruptly jolting you awake at the same set time each day, this app uses movement and sound recording and sleep pattern analysis to wake you up gently during a lighter sleep period.

Sleep Cycle App: Free for basic or $29.99 per year for premium; available in the App Store and on Google Play

RELATED: The Expert Advice You Need to Establish a Sleep Schedule—for You and Your Kids

Nothing Much Happens Podcast

This podcast’s name describes the concept perfectly. In each episode, yoga and meditation teacher Kathryn Nicolai shares a bedtime story where, well, not much actually happens. Fans say tuning in helps calm their ruminating or racing minds at the end of a long, tense day. If you’re a stickler for a story’s ending, fear not: Nicolai tells the tale once all the way through, then again at a slower pace so you know how it ends (and can drift off to sleep before the final word). available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify and on most major podcast streaming services

Slumber App

Scroll through a library of meditations, stories, soundscapes, and songs custom-made to quell a busy brain. Each of the techniques used in the audio options—including guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation and breath control—are specifically chosen because they are recommended by research-based organizations like the National Sleep Foundation. The app is updated weekly, so you can stick with what you love or hop around to find something new.

Slumber App: Free for basic, bonus in-app purchases also available; available in the App Store and on Google Play

(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

About Karla Walsh
Health, Food, Wine and Relationship Writer + Cooking and Wine Event Host

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