5 bedtime stories for adults to help you fall asleep when you’re stressed out

5 bedtime stories for adults to help you fall asleep when you’re stressed out
(Image credit: Getty)

Bedtime stories for adults are extremely popular. They’re specially written and narrated in order to promote deep, restful sleep through soothing sounds, slow and steady narration, and stories designed to melt away your worries so that you’re ready for bed. These are perfect for trying out during Sleep Awareness Week 2021, a time when we are celebrating sleep health.

The Calm meditation app is by far the most popular bedtime stories for adults app. It features a huge range of audible stories, from classics to narrated adventures across the world. You know, in order to get a better night’s sleep, experts recommend you meditate during the day too. So as well as using Calm for its Sleep Stories, you could also use it for mediation and mindfulness.

Remember, a good night’s sleep depends on many factors. As well as listening to your bedtime stories for adults, whether that’s through apps or podcasts or another method, consider upgrading your bedroom with the best mattress for your body type, or a lamp that drenches your space in warm, cosy and colored lighting for sleep. But here we look at relaxing, grown-up bedtime stories, and the five to consider listening to tonight. 

How do bedtime stories for adults help us fall asleep?

Bedtime stories for adults can help us fall asleep for a range of reasons. The first, and most obvious, is they remind us of when as children our parents or other caregivers might have read to us before bed to soothe us to sleep. When we spoke to experts and asked them why is sleep important and how can we do it better, they all agreed that a bedtime routine is paramount. 

What’s more, rather than focusing on your worries or plans for the next day when you go to bed, bedtime stories for grown-ups bring you back to the present moment and the present focus: falling asleep. Many bedtime stories further promote mindfulness by focusing on sensory experiences: sights, smells, taste, which can make you feel even more immersed in the relaxing story you’re listening to. 

What makes bedtime stories for adults even more effective for good quality sleep is if you combine them with other positive sleep habits, like taking a bath before bed, setting a sleep alarm to remind yourself to get ready for rest, or investing in one of the best pillows for sleeping.

5 bedtime stories for adults to listen to tonight

There are a number of different apps and audiobooks available to download right now that are filled with bedtime stories for adults. Some you will need to pay for, but they come with a free trial to check whether listening to stories before bed is right for you before you buy them.

1. Calm
Calm’s Sleep Stories are some of the most popular, featuring interesting, soothing stories of adventure, as well as classic stories repurposed specifically for soothing you to sleep. All of the bedtime-friendly stories are narrated by voice artists, as well as celebrities, and feature calming sounds and music too. The Calm app costs $69.99 for a year’s subscription, or $399.99 for a lifetime subscription. There’s a seven-day free trial period before any money is taken. 

2. Elizabeth Stone’s Bedtime Stories For Adults
Unlike the Calm app, this is an audiobook filled with a range of different bedtime stories for grown-ups. Built on hypnosis and meditation techniques, each one is specially thought through to help you fall asleep within 25 minutes and there are a range of stories to choose from too, depending on what kind of mood you’re in.

3. Get Sleepy
Get Sleepy is a podcast, which means you can listen to it for free through a podcast app or Apple Podcasts. Each episode begins with a sleep meditation and is followed by a calming story designed to help you sleep. Recent episodes include wandering through an aquarium and walking through the streets of Rome.

Bedtime stories for adults: A woman with dark hair and wearing a cream t-shirt relaxes on her bed while listening to a bedtime story before sleep

(Image credit: Getty)

4. Nothing Much Happens
This podcast of bedtime stories for adults is narrated by yoga and meditation teacher Kathryn Nicolai. The thinking is that simple stories are the best for soothing us into sleep. Stories are about people watching, walks and rainy days. Each one is told twice and it’s slower the second time around.

5. Sleep Whispers
If you like stories that are whispered to you instead of read aloud, Sleep Whispers is the bedtime stories for adults podcast for you. Each episode features guided meditations, listener stories and a whispered story to lull you to sleep. Some are popular fiction stories, others are facts or poems.

What are Calm Sleep Stories?

As mentioned above, Calm is one of the world’s most popular wellness apps and it has sections for ambient music, guided meditations and sleep. In the section all about sleep there’s a library of recordings called Sleep Stories. Simply put, these are bedtime stories for adults.

Many of the stories are about journeying somewhere new and going on an adventure. This enables you to really get lost in the story, because many sensory experiences are described: what you see, hear, taste and feel. These journeys include visiting sequoia forests in California, and taking the Trans-Siberian express and hearing the train tracks. Sometimes the adventures are through time, and other times even through space.

These bedtime stories for adults are narrated by a range of voice artists. Sometimes, Calm’s Sleep Stories are narrated by special guest celebrities, including Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy, Eva Green, Idris Elba, Stephen Fry, and Kate Winslet. You can search for Sleep Stories by genre or by narrator. The Matthew McConaughey-narrated story, Wonder, is a particular highlight. 

Why do we need to relax before going to sleep?

Taking steps to ease yourself into sleep and relax before bed is important if you want to give yourself the best chance of getting a deep and restful night’s sleep. Preparing your bedroom, mind and body for sleep is sometimes called practicing good sleep hygiene.

Even though it might be late at night and you might already feel tired, many of us are still often over-stimulated from the day we’ve just had. This means we need time to wind down before we sleep – even before we climb into bed. If we don’t, we can have trouble falling asleep, experience light sleep, or keep waking up throughout the night. 

We can relax before going to sleep by reading a book, taking a bath or listening to bedtime stories. These steps will ensure our minds and our bodies are ready for rest. The important thing is, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else. 

If you’re interested in upgrading your bed, there are plenty of Sleep Week sales to check out, including the latest Purple mattress deals, the best Saatva mattress discounts, and some great Casper mattress deals too.

Becca Caddy

Becca is an experienced tech, health and fitness journalist with bylines on many leading brands including TechRadar, New Scientist, Wired and others. For Top Ten Reviews, Becca loves writing about sleep and wellness, including why good sleep hygiene can help you snooze better than ever, and how to get more shut-eye (yes, it's possible). Becca is also the author of Screen Time, which looks at how we can all make peace with our devices and find our 'techquilibrium'.