This post is in now way, shape, or form insulting the podcasts I list below (I'm not saying they're boring, because they aren't!) But as someone who has had insomnia that ranges from wretched to occasional-but-mild, I'm willing to do pretty much anything that gets me to sleep. Normally reading can wind me down, but sometimes that doesn't work.
What does often work for me: listening to certain types of voices speaking in particular types of ways. These are some of my regular podcasts I listen to--on very light volume--when I'm trying to get to sleep. Typically I use the my sleep timer on my phone on for one hour, then it automatically turns off.
My top choice. This podcast is from the Center for Investigative Reporting, which does fantastic in-depth stories on important issues. Two recent really good episodes were about racial disparities in lending for mortgages and one on a contraceptive implant and how a company and the FDA responded (or didn't respond..) to serious health issues it caused. The host has a soothing, smooth voice, and there is never any abrupt music or sharp sounds (loud laughter, etc.)
This one may overtake Reveal as my favorite. Not good if listening to stories about murder disturbs you.. so disclaimer there. Each episode focuses on a murder or serial killer. The two hosts handle the content from a research angle that is dead serious (no jokes) and they clearly do a lot of research for each episode. Both the hosts have incredibly soothing voices and both, weirdly enough, happen to talk with this rhythmic cadence that just lulls you.
3. Teen Creeps
I wish I had discovered this one sooner. The two female hosts are comediennes/ writers who read one teen YA pulp horror novel a week and rehash it on the podcast. I was a huge reader of Christopher Pike and RL Stein-- both of whom are strongly represented. I had fond memories of these books, but boy do they not age well. They rehash the plot but also provide commentary and go on tangents. There is some laughing (quite a bit, actually), but no music or abrupt noises. You don't need to have read the books to follow the podcast. They both have softer Millennial-ish voices that never bother me.
So yeah, this is a podcast about the Bachelor franchise. (They cover both the show and all its spinoffs). Which of course means it's only running when there is a current show, with a new one released about a day after each airing of the show. The show approaches the Bachelor from exactly the same perspective I have on it: it's ridiculous, but often riveting.
Only the non-humorous episodes, which occasionally have weird sounds. The ones that cover only one story per the entire hour are best. Just to note that there is some music which occasionally pops up.
This Canadian podcast covers one incident for an entire season, doing a deep dive into murders and disappearances. It's soothing and understated, never intense despite it's content.
I try to pick something once a month to work on--either something about myself, or my environment, to try to make my life a little better. For January I worked on making my apartment look more like an adult lives there (getting rid of my college-era mismatched dinnerware, a minor renovation project in my bathroom, buying glasses instead of drinking out of cleaned out Classico tomato sauce jars. Pictures of the "renovation" are forthcoming!
At the end of January I decided that my thing for February was to unplug more. I have a news addition which is pretty unfortunately: I can't not read the news because I need to be very well informed for work. On the other hand, I consume way more of it than I need to, in addition to "news" peripherals, like thinkpieces, and thinkpieces about thinkpieces. And tweets. And angry Facebook posts.
I decided to take all social media off my phone--I still have the accounts, just no access on my phone. I'm also trying to cut down on how often I check the news when I'm at home. The first think I noticed, even within a day, is how often I just idly reach for my phone for something to flip through. Why? What's the point? All the major things that are going on in the world are going to go the way they're going regardless of whether or not you are obsessively reading about it or feeling anxious about it. This doesn't mean choosing to be ignorant: I'm still very well politically informed, and I still do what political actions I can and engage in long convos about stuff. But do you really need to know something right away? Do you really need to read a second, third, fourth article about whatever rage-inducing thing happened?
And social media. Yeah, I liked keeping in touch with my friends. But right now a huge percentage of social media is people being enraged about something that I am more or less impotent to do anything about right now. (I did, incidentally, decide in January that every time I heard something that enraged me rather than posting about it on social media, I would just send some money to help with whatever issue.) And as someone who reads a lot of actual news, the amount of dubious information passed along on Twitter is more than disturbing. Just because someone says something doesn't mean it's true. Even if you want it to be.
I guess we'll see how it went at the end of the month. There's a line somewhere between actively choosing to be ignorant about the world, and giving yourself an ulcer--I don't think it's a fine line that's hard to find. You just have to commit to it.