Best Sleep Stories
Sleep stories are the equivalent of bedtime stories for children - although children can tune into sleep stories too.
There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of sleep stories online and in sleep apps. They’re becoming increasingly popular as the world’s ability to sleep gets harder and harder.
The purpose of listening to sleep stories is to transition from a busy day to winding down and falling asleep. They help to bridge the gap between racing thoughts and finding a calming head space, in an easy and natural way.
This type of sleep audio features soothing stories that take the mind to somewhere new and relaxing, helping the listener to feel calm and tranquil. You’ll often find a narrator who has a soft and relaxing voice, telling a story with minimal drama, often featuring scenes of nature and background music.
What are sleep stories?
Sleep stories are calming narratives read by soothing narrators that combine music and sound effects to help you gently fall asleep.
How sleep stories work
Sleep stories work by allowing the listener to unwind before or in bed, by listening to a narrative, full of descriptive prose, written specifically to help them switch off and let go.
The audio will feature a voice reading a calming story with soothing sound effects and sometimes music too. The end goal is to encourage the listener to drift off to sleep by helping them to shake off any racing thoughts and enter a peaceful state.
As the sleep story comes to an end, you’ll often notice the narrator’s voice getting lower, softer and fading out, to encourage the listener to fall asleep.
People listen to sleep stories if they’re looking for a natural way to power down and fall asleep after a hectic day. The stories can often remind the listener of bedtime stories read to them when they were young and it’s this nostalgic, comforting feeling that can relax them further.
Sleep stories can help to stop a common problem known as sleep disturbance. Sleep disturbance can negatively impact both someone’s ability to fall asleep and their quality of sleep when they do drift off, which can lead to short-term and long-term sleep disorders. The American Sleep Association (AMA) highlights how sleep disorders affect 50 to 70 million U.S adults. One of the leading sleep disturbances is racing thoughts, which can keep you up for hours or cause a distressing night’s sleep.
Sleep disturbances can cause issues such as mood changes, weakened immune system, agitation, weight changes, risk of diseases, forgetfulness and much more.
So people turn to sleep stories to help them find a way to improve their sleep and ultimately their overall health.
Best stories to fall asleep to
- Calm Sleep Stories - The Norland Night Train with Erik Braa
- Deep Sleep Story – Inspired Story for Adults to Sleep (Travels and Dreams #1)
- Boring Books for Bedtime Readings to Help You Sleep - Legend of Sleepy Hollow
- Audible - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- Casper Sleep Channel - Truly Boring Fairy Tales
- Send Me To Sleep - Old Greek Stories
- Sleep With Me - Llama Cat Dog Roommates
- MyKokoon app - Shipping Forecast
- Sleepy podcast - Hansel & Gretel
- Calm app - Harry Styles, 'Dream With Me'
Length: 30 mins
What is it: This well-loved video/audio is brought to us by Calm, a well-known sleep audio brand that has over 40 million downloads. And this particular audio has nearly 3 million listens.
The narration entails traveling up the scenic coast of Norway aboard a remote railway. Calm created this natural sleep audio for adults to help them fall asleep whilst listening to soothing narrative, background music and sound effects.
Why should I listen: Calm are real experts in this area of sleep audio. The voiceover is by Erik Braa who is a legend in the voiceover space. His voice is cool, calming and warming - the perfect voice to send you to sleep.
Length: 37 mins
What is it: This YouTube video/audio has had over 3 million listens. Jason Stephenson is known for his work around meditation and adds his experience to this video. This story goes through the travels and dreams of the main character, Thomas, which are described by Jason who reads the tale softly and smoothly, taking the listener on a calming journey.
Why should I listen: The track focuses on the calming nature of the narrator’s voice with some hypnotic musical interludes. There are no sound effects which can either add or detract from the story depending on the listener’s preference. This is a great choice if you want to unwind after a busy day.
Boring Books for Bedtime Readings to Help You Sleep - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving, Part 1
Length: 53 mins
What is it: This has been described as a ‘surprisingly relaxing’ Apple Podcast audio (considering it’s creepy Sleepy Hollow), as the audio takes the listener through descriptions of country life. This is a real literary work that already existed and was not created especially to be a bedtime story.
Why should I listen: The idea behind the sleep story is for it to be boring enough to send you to sleep and it seems to work! The melancholy sound of the reader’s voice accompanied by the ‘boring’ story makes for the perfect pairing to help you nod off.
(Listen to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on Audible)
Length: 3 hrs 49 mins
What is it: This sleep story is read by the American Actor Anne Hathaway. Hathaway reads the classic novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It’s a little bit more exciting than the usual sleep story as it’s read by a celebrity. Hathaway’s voice is interesting and soothing and the story is long enough to send you to sleep and last at least a few nights.
Why should I listen: It has a 4.5* rating from more than 500 raters. It’s nostalgic as it’s a classic story which can help you feel soothed and relaxed. It’s also a little different from the other sleep stories featured as you can listen to this one at other times of the day too - especially with kids.
Length: 1 hr 7 mins
What is it: This sleep story has been designed to help the listener nod off to fairy tales with a difference. The twist of each story has been modified to be boring and ‘snooze-worthy’.
Why should I listen: This audio features Kathryn Nicolai, a writer and creator of relaxing bedtime stories and a teacher of mindfulness. Have some fun reading the comments about this audio.
Length: 57 mins
What is it: Send Me To Sleep has created an audio designed to help you drift off to sleep quickly, by tuning into a relaxing and hypnotic story called ‘The Story of Atalanta’, from James Baldwin’s ‘Old Greek Stories’.
Why should I listen: This audio is one of Send Me To Sleep’s most popular tracks, due to the fact it successfully sends people to sleep time and time again. Read in a way that’s both relaxing and hypnotic, this sleep story presses all of the right buttons when it comes to effortlessly falling asleep. Don’t count on hearing the ending, as you’ll probably be fast off by then.
Length: 1 hr 21 mins
What is it: This sleep story has been created by Drew Ackerman, referred to as ‘the podcaster helping the world sleep’. Each episode is around an hour long and includes a calming, snooze-inducing bedtime narrative that sends the listener to sleep. From the title you can presume they’re humorous too.
Why should I listen: Since they kicked off in 2013, Ackerman’s sleep stories have been unique and well-loved by many. As an indication of his popularity, the author and reader has been interviewed by GQ, Buzzfeed and The New York Times, to name a few. They can help ease racing thoughts and anxiety, whilst encouraging a better night’s sleep before the episode even ends.
Length: 18 mins
What is it: This sleep story comes in the form of a shipping forecast. From 1922, the BBC released shipping forecasts via radio, which included weather and forecast updates for the British coastlines. Kokoon has taken one of these legendary forecasts and turned it into an 18-minute sleep-inducing audio that gently bores and soothes you to sleep.
Why should I listen: Kokoon is a science-backed brand whose audio is based on CBT-inspired practice. The Shipping Forecast is one of our top listened to tracks and often sends people to sleep before the track finishes.
Length: 55 mins
What is it: The Sleepy podcast is hosted by Otis Gray, a guy with a soothing, gravelly voice who reads his listeners to sleep. His podcast has over 170 (at time of writing) bedtime stories to choose from. This particular story is a Grimm fairytale that Gray reads in such a way as to send you to sleep before it finishes.
Why should I listen: His low and rhythmic tone is hypnotic and works wonders night after night. If you like old story books then Gray is the guy for you, as each week he reads a book from the past that’ll make you feel nostalgic and sleepy.
Length: 39 mins
What is it: Harry Styles (the guy from One Direction, obvs) uses the power of his dulcet tones and calming music to send his listeners into the land of nod. He takes the listener on a journey, walking through brooks, on beaches and through woods with the leaves rustling.
Why should I listen: Although you’ll have to download and pay for the Calm app to access this content, (unless you’re sneaky and head to YouTube), it’s great content that will at least make you wish you were married to Harry, so he could talk you to sleep each night.
How to use audio stories for sleep
Sleep stories are most effective when you can get the following things right:
- Find the perfect audio for you.
- Optimise your sleep environment.
- Find the best time to listen.
- Listen as often as you can.
- Pair with the MyKokoon app.
1. Find the perfect audio for you
There are plenty of sleep stories to choose from, so finding the right one can be tricky. However, we hope that you’ll find one you love listening to from our list of 10 of the best sleep stories.
2. Optimise your sleep environment
Listen to your chosen sleep story with headphones that mask external disturbance. Kokoon’s Nightbuds are noise-masking and the perfect choice if you want the ultimate undisturbed sleep story experience.
3. Find the best time to listen
Try to listen to a sleep story when you’ve got some peace and quiet in the house. If you can find peace and quiet then pop your sleep story on and relax.
4. Listen as often as you can
Make sure you tune into your favourite as often as you can, or listen to as many sleep stories as you like. Consistency is the key to boost the chances of a positive outcome.
5. Pair with the MyKokoon app
Listen to your favourite sleep stories alongside the MyKokoon app, so when you do start to fall asleep, the app will play white noise to mask disturbances.
Get started with sleep stories
Not sure which one to start with? Pick one of our best sleep stories from this article and listen as part of your wind down routine or whilst in bed. Start with one of our sleep stories listed in this blog, called The Shipping Forecast and see where it takes you.
Download the MyKokoon app and head to the library to find your first sleep story.