It's not easy to turn your mind off at the end of the day.
Half the time, when I lay down to close my eyes and go to sleep, the interior of my head is more or less a haunted television, switching channels, flashing images, and bouncing around anxious scenarios with no real rhyme or reason.
Needless to say, this means I have a normal routine of things I try to do whenever I can't get to sleep.
I'll try some breathing techniques, relaxing my body one part at a time, listening to a recording of the gentle sounds of rain, reading until my eyes get heavy, or even counting backwards from 100.
Sometimes these tactics work, and sometimes they don't.
While I might be a little late to the game on this one, I've recently discovered the brilliance of podcasts for sleep, and they have been helping me pretty consistently.
There's just something about listening to someone's voice that makes me feel a little less lonely (you know, in an existential sense) and allows me to focus on something outside of my own whirling head long enough for my body to let go and get its much needed rest.
1. Tara Brach
Sometimes it helps to have someone talk directly to my mind, so to speak.
Brach is a psychologist, author, meditation teacher, and in my opinion, spiritual genius.
She talks about everything from the struggles of maintaining a present mind to recovering from childhood traumas.
Brach guides meditations such as The Return to Presence: Rest Your Mind In What Is and Quieting The Mind.
Plus, her combination of intelligence and humor add a certain trust factor that helps me truly let go and ease my way into a restful sleep.
The whole point of this podcast is literally to get you snoring by being boring (yes, I planned that rhyme).
Seriously, it's pretty much the The Iliad of its genre.
According to The New Yorker, Sleep With Me's creator, Drew Ackerman (aka Dearest Scooter) originally started the podcast to fulfill his dream of being a writer.
He just goes on and on, rambling and going on countless tangents just to the left of interesting stories, all in a gravelly, monotone voice.
If you're down to actually listen to what he has to say rather than fall asleep to it, he also does TV recaps sometimes, like his very popular "Game of Drones."
I can barely tell you what this one is about, because I get about five minutes into it, and I'm out.
It's described as “whispered ramblings and readings” that help you fall asleep.
There's just something about the sound of whispering that feels like a brain massage and gets me snoring in no time.
4. The Moth
Of course, listening to storytelling can be another classic way to drift off, too.
This podcast includes real stories told by real people like you and me, all live on stage.
It's kind of like friendly strangers are lulling you to sleep with charming and interesting bedtime stories, proving that truth continues to be stranger than fiction.
I have to come clean. I actually found this particular podcast by accident one day when I was looking for more whispering podcasts.
Careless Whispers just so happens to be about the NBA, and my knowledge of basketball basically stops at Space Jam, and that one time I was featured on a Jumbotron at a Duke game.
The idea behind this one is that you're simply hearing someone's voice talk about something you have zero emotional investment in.
Seriously, give this idea a shot. There are so many people who care about things that just plain don't matter to you, and they have podcasts about them that can lull you right into a peaceful slumber.