There are a number of reasons and circumstances that can contribute to a poor night’s sleep. While you’re not supposed to be on your devices at least 30 minutes before you’re ready for bed, there’s one activity you can cue up before you roll over. A sleep podcast can be the missing link for many people’s sleepless nights.
1. Nightly Routine – Having a nightly podcast can contribute to establishing a regular sleep schedule. For many streaming services, you can set up a timed notification to go off in the evening, reminding you to listen to your favorite podcast. From there, your body is more likely to shift into autopilot mode as you turn it into a regular habit.
2. Faster REM Sleep – Most sleep podcasts have episodes designed to first lull you to relaxation and then guide you into a night of REM sleep. Rapid Eye Movement sleep, or REMS, is the stage of deep sleep where we dream. While typically any form of rest is good for your body, this stage of relaxation activates your brain and regulates your heart rate and breathing. If you’ve ever woken up feeling restless, it’s likely because your body didn’t activate REM enough times throughout the night.
3. Stress-Reliever – Sleep podcasts help put you in a soothing mental environment. The combination of a calm, monotone voice accompanied by music with low BPM (beats per minute) or ambient noises can have a significant effect on your stress levels; for some, it replicates the feeling you have after a massage or watching a nostalgic movie.
4. Heart Rate – The goal of most sleep podcasts is to help you focus on deep, regulated breathing, clearing your mind from daily stressors. This is to also help regulate your heart rate to prepare for sleep and reduce anxiety. By practicing these techniques, you greatly reduce the time spent with an increased, stress-induced heart rate.
5. Anxiety Reduction – As previously mentioned, many podcast episodes center around breathing exercises and detaching from the day’s worries. While in the dark and laying down this is supposed to put you to sleep, these techniques can be used throughout your regular day as well. These kinds of breathing routines can help you with panic attacks and crisis thinking by centering yourself in the present. Mental health professionals from organizations like MyTherapist encourage a healthy sleep schedule to reduce the risk of anxiety-related conditions.
6. Affirmation Practice – Affirmation is the practice of repeating positive phrases, similar to mental meditation mantras. Sleep podcasts centered around affirmations are designed to help you go to sleep with a positive mentality. Whether you’re looking to introduce meditative practices to your routine or you have frequent nightmares or a mental health condition, affirmations can be a great way to get a daily confidence boost.
7. Healthy Escapism – Escapism is defined by the American Psychological Association as “the tendency to escape from the real world to the delight or security of a fantasy world.” It can be a normal and healthy response to a stressful time: daydreaming, reading, listening to music, etc. Unhealthy escapism is an obsessive habit that can turn into an addiction in order to leave behind reality. Sleep podcasts create a time for you to have a moment of regular escapism that aids with positive dreams and thoughts. As an activity that takes place before nightly sleep, you’re at a lower risk to develop an unhealthy addiction to this exercise.
8. Brain Activity – Soundtracks and radio that are designed to help you fall asleep function on a lower frequency. The low frequency is naturally comforting and can encourage brain activity associated with REM sleep. With the soothing tones of someone’s voice, background music, or nature sounds, the low hum activates the crucial part of the brain that helps you fall into a deep, relaxing sleep.
9. Mindfulness Practice – The practice of mindfulness is centering yourself in the present moment to reduce stress, anxiety, and other overthinking habits. This is a helpful practice often recommended by professionals to those with mental health conditions. By focusing on your present self to relax and go to sleep faster, you’re also learning techniques to use throughout your regular day.
10. Insomnia Assistance – There are three types of insomnia. While chronic insomnia is associated with medical and psychiatric conditions, acute and transient types are typically tied to stress, mental health conditions, and other changes that can affect your mentality. The scenarios and guides of sleep aid soundtracks activate your imagination, distracting you from factors that “raise your alertness.”
11. Isolation Comfort – Some people have difficulty going to sleep alone. Whether you’re living on your own for the first time, going through a breakup, or feeling isolated from the pandemic, having a soothing voice in the background can be comforting. Tuning in to a familiar voice is the push some people need to drift off in an empty room.
12. Natural Aid – Some people are wary of or prefer not to use medications and over-the-counter sleep aids. For those that have difficulty pinpointing their sleeping problems, podcasts can be a natural, non-pharmaceutical way to get some sleep. Through different programs, you may find your difficulty lies in overthinking, uncomfortable sleeping positions, or a hyper-focus on the act of falling asleep itself. It’s important to note, if you’re having problems sleeping every night, you should consult your doctor about any concerns.
13. Muscle Relaxation – Many people don’t realize that the way they fall asleep could be affecting their quality of sleep. These walkthroughs walk you through slowly relaxing your muscles, de-tensing, and getting into a comfortable position. Have you ever woken up with a sore arm or joint because of how you fell asleep? With the help of these guides, you’ll reset the way you fall asleep so you’re not unknowingly pinching nerves or muscles.
14. Positive Thinking – Similar to the practice of affirmations, sleep podcasts focus on positive thoughts and imagery before bed. It’s often about more than just disassociating from your daily life and challenges. Instead, they actively use encouragement and positivity so you fall asleep with a boost to your mental health.
It can be a common misconception that once you start using a podcast for sleep aid, it could be difficult to fall asleep without it. However, these programs should be viewed as educational pieces, providing you with the tools to have great evenings in the future without the need for the service. Similar to how a fitness app gives you great insights and practices to improve your health, sleep radio provides you with exercises that improve your sleep schedule, physical wellbeing, and mental health.