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10 Podcasts to Help You Sleep

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Despite having a busy job, an energetic toddler, and a painful 5:30 a.m. alarm, I’m no stranger to insomnia. Fortunately, I’ve noticed a growing number of podcasts aimed at putting me to sleep. Below are a few of my faves, which range from simple meditations to grownup bedtime stories to droning tones.

WEE-HOUR WEIRDNESS

1. Sleep With Me: A Sleep Inducing Podcast
If Ben Stein’s famous Ferris Bueller's Day Off teacher droned on for an hour, it'd make a great episode of Sleep With Me, an odd little podcast that never fails to make me drowsy. In each episode, the narrator delivers meandering, stream-of-consciousness monologues in a monotone that recalls the most boring teacher you ever had. Even if I’m interested in a topic—like his recent ep about the Spanish-language version of Breaking Bad—I’ve never managed to stay awake through the whole thing.

2. Game of Drones: The Game of Thrones Sleep Aid
Hosted by the same guy who narrates Sleep With Me—he goes by “Scooter”—Game of Drones operates under the same concept, only all episodes are related to HBO’s hit series. And while it may seem impossible to make such a bloody, action-packed show sound so boring, rest assured, Scooter’s analysis does just that.

SLEEPYTIME SPIRITUALITY

3. The Daily Meditation Podcast
If your sleeplessness results from stress or anxiety, you may want to check out Mary Meckley’s podcast, in which she offers short, guided meditations. While each has a general theme (gaining confidence, releasing anger, etc.), all are delivered in calm, quiet tones suitable for bedtime enjoyment.

4. Meditation Minis
Looking for a way to calm down before you turn out the light? Chel Hamilton’s podcast may do the trick. Episodes last about 10 minutes and take listeners through relaxing meditations about work, health, and, yes, sleep. Rather than immediately launching into the meditation, each episode starts with announcements from the host and a short intro that describes the exercise to come, which is why I prefer to start the podcast before I get under the covers.

5. The Duncan Trussell Family Hour
I usually can’t listen to comedians when I’m trying to fall asleep, but Trussell is one exception. While he makes me laugh—particularly with his surreal, twisted ads at the top of the show—his voice calms me and often provides a picturesque portal to dreamland. Trussell and his guests often discuss art and spirituality at length, and I listen to many eps multiple times, regardless of whether they lull me to sleep or not.

6. On Being
“As if the guests aren’t interesting enough, her voice alone is transcendent,” Molly Ringwald once tweeted about this podcast. And she’s right: Each week, host Krista Tippett offers smart and well-crafted interviews with scientists, thinkers, artists, and others. Her approach settles my nerves and usually teaches me a few things to boot.

SHH… IT’S STORYTIME

7. Welcome to Night Vale
I adore this popular storytelling podcast, and I find its offbeat tales of conspiracies and small-town strange occurrences can help me wind down after a crazy day. (Listen again the next morning during your caffeinated commute, and you’ll discover all sorts of details you missed.)

8. New Yorker Fiction
This podcast delivers fictional tales from all sorts of esteemed writers: T.C. Boyle, Patricia Highsmith, Vladimir Nobokov. And sure, you can listen anytime, but I find they can serve as excellent bedtime stories. 

9. The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio
Don’t get me wrong: I love the old stuff. But Americans had much longer attention spans back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and I find vintage radio programs often send me to slumberland. Adam Green updates his podcast daily with cool detective tales (Philip Marlowe and Dragnet among them).

TWILIGHT TUNES

10. Deep Energy 2.0: Music for Sleep, Meditation, Relaxation, Massage and Yoga
The title says it all: If voices keep you awake, look for a podcast that omits them, like this one. Each hour-long mix includes ambient sounds to induce sleep (or accompany your best downward-facing dog). The only episode I’d suggest you avoid is the latest one with spooky Halloween-y music, which might induce a haunted nightmare.

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There's Now a Podcast That Plays Nothing But Laughter for Six Hours Straight
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If you’re the kind of person who loathes sitcoms with a laugh track, this one probably isn’t for you. A podcast (that might be a generous term) called “Radio Haha” has been launched in celebration of World Laughter Day on May 6, and it plays nothing but laughter—for six hours straight.

In the podcast, produced by UK apartment share service SpareRoom, you’ll hear some guffaws and giggles, and plenty of cackles and chortles. It may seem absurd at first, but listen long enough and you might find yourself laughing, too. That’s because laughter is contagious, even when it comes from an artificial source.

One study by neuroscientist and “laughter expert” Robert Provine revealed that 90 percent of test subjects smiled while listening to 19 seconds of laughter generated by a novelty store toy, and nearly half laughed along. This study and others like it suggest that the dreaded laugh track does in fact work, even if many modern TV viewers find it tacky.

Science has also shown that many health benefits are associated with laughter. Not only does it release endorphins that make you feel good, but it also relieves stress, improves your immune system, reduces blood pressure, relieves pain, and improves brain function.

Presented with all this evidence, one doctor in India invented “laughter yoga,” a movement that has been growing ever since it was founded in 1995. Dr. Madan Kataria realized that even forced laughter can trigger a genuine giggle, leading him to create the very first laughter club, which spawned the first World Laughter Day.

The inaugural event in Mumbai, India, attracted over 12,000 members of local and international “laughter clubs." Participants carried signs, marched, and bellowed "ho-ho-ho, ha-ha" in unison, making it seem a little more like a protest than a joyous celebration. (If so, it would have been the happiest protest in history.) Check out some footage of the first World Laughter Day below.

Here's What the Elaborate Maze From S-Town Looks Like

John B. McLemore created a world of wonders in the middle of nowhere. The protagonist of the popular S-Town podcast was famous in his hometown for his loud mouth and regular diatribes about tattoos and climate change. Elsewhere in the world, he was better known as a master craftsman and a genius.

Much of McLemore’s income derived from his extraordinary work as a horologist, or clockmaker, but his property in Woodstock, Alabama, is littered with other inventions and projects—including his legendary hedge maze.

Photo courtesy of Imgur

Photo courtesy of Imgur

Reddit users report that the maze has recently begun to fall into disrepair, news that upsets the S-Town listeners who have grown so fond of the clockmaker and his complicated, beautiful creations.

Photo courtesy of Imgur

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