Fighting Insomnia with Podcasts

Problems falling asleep and staying asleep affect many people including me. Here’s some data that puts it into perspective.

Number of people in the U.S. who have a chronic sleep disorder 40 Million
Estimated cost to U.S. employers in lost productivity due to sleep loss issues $18 Billion
Percent of people who suffer from sleep apnea 5 %
Percent of American adults experience a sleep problem a few nights per week 62 %
Percent of all adults have insomnia in the course of any year 30 %

I’m usually able to fall asleep OK but I almost always wake up at some ungodly hour. In the past, I found it very difficult to fall back to sleep. And the longer it took the more trouble I had.

I noticed that when my wife goes to sleep, she always listens to a podcast. She sets the timer on her iPod to automatically shut off after 25 minutes. On most nights she’s asleep in less than 10 minutes. Since listening to podcasts helps her, I decided to try listening to podcasts when I wake up in the middle of the night.

And much to my delight, I’ve found that it works! Now I almost always fall back to sleep. When I wake up I select a program and set the volume so it’s not too soft or too loud. There’s an ideal volume that I find relaxing. Some of my favorite podcasts to fall asleep to are Maketplace and Corner Office with Kai Ryssdal, Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam, Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates, Radio Lab and The Moth. I also have an effective fall-back plan – tune to NPR. During the middle of the night our NPR station presents news and programs from the BBC. That always puts me to sleep! Maybe it’s the accent?

One of the best things about this solution is that I no longer feel stressed or anxious about getting a good night sleep. And on those very rare occasions where I can’t fall back asleep, at least I’m learning something or being entertained instead of stressing out.

By the way, if you don’t like using ear buds, you can use pillow speakers. You put them under your pillow and only you can hear them.

Please feel free to share any sleep tips that work for you.


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5 Responses


    BBC podcasts are my answer…

  2. Nikki T says:

    Great idea. I haven’t ever tried this, but on the 1 – 2 times per year that I get insomnia, I will. By the way, I am a BIG fan of your podcasts.

  3. Lori says:

    There’s actually a podcast that is produced PURPOSELY to put you to sleep with a man’s boring voice droning on and on. It’s sleepwithmepodcast.

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