The internet gets a bad rap when it comes to sleep. We’re constantly being reminded about the sleep-ruining effects of bluelight and how casually scrolling through the “Rich Kids of Instagram” Tumblr blog infringes on our oh-so-important wind-down time.
Yet blaming that elaborate sequence of ones and zeros for bad sleep isn’t 100 percent fair. Because for every internet distraction, there’s an equal and opposite (and often times life changing) resource — including a seemingly endless number of YouTube videos that are intended to induce slumber.
While we should all practice good sleep hygiene (which in the past has usually meant banishing our phones from the bedroom), an immense amount of helpful, easily accessible insomnia-battling videos are but a Google search away. From meditation lessons that can help corral your racing thoughts to ASMR videos that can provide pleasurable tingly feelings as well as relaxation — here are a few of our favorites.
Hypnosis has been touted for years as a way to help people calm their minds by putting them in a state where they are no longer susceptible to distractions. In fact, when combined with a healthy sleep routine, hypnotherapy has been shown to decrease insomnia.
The traditional image of hypnosis that has played out in popular culture for years — you know, the patient on a couch, a stopwatch on a chain swinging back and forth, a hypnotist murmuring, “you are getting very-yyy sleepy...” — is not what you’ll find in the world of YouTube hypnosis. In fact, most videos are much more simplified: generally a calm, slow-speaking host (who could easily just be your dentist proclaiming that he’s a hypnotist because — you know — the internet) guides the session, commanding your attention conjuring up imagery to help you conk out.
Not all hypnosis videos are meant for inducing slumber, but there are many labeled specifically as videos for sleep, relaxation at bedtime and alleviating insomnia. They occasionally feature a rotating spiral that are intended to mesmerize viewers; others only consist of a hypnotist speaking in a slow and gentle manner as he/she leads you through a series of relaxation exercises.
Why: This video by Michael Sealey, which clocks in at roughly half an hour, is a calming, straightforward introduction to the world of sleep-focused hypnotherapy. But don’t just take our word for it: The video has been viewed more than 782,000 times and, if you scroll through the comments section, you’ll see numerous people reporting that they nodded off long before the 30-minute mark. (Into it? Check out “Deep Sleep Self Hypnosis Meditation” from “hypnotist” Johnny Angel.)
Not only can regular meditation help center you and clear unwanted thoughts, but it can also improve sleep and restore brain function. In fact, the practice offers many similar benefits to sleep in general.
Can’t make that retreat to Bali? Just flip open your laptop. A wide-array of calming walkthroughs await and many videos take normal meditation a step further, guiding you through the natural steps of falling asleep. (In the case of some sleep-focused meditation videos, falling asleep apparently involves pretending to “drift away into the starry, night sky.”)
Why: The video features twenty minutes of guided relaxation and breathing exercises followed by quiet, melodic music. While the Australian narrator’s soothing voice and gentle instructions might seem hoaxy to the restless, give it a shot: They help draw attention away from any nagging worries and distracting thoughts, preparing the mind and body to welcome sleep. (Into it? Check out "Guided Meditation For Sleep...Floating Amongst the Stars" next.)
Short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, ASMR is a response that presents itself as a pleasurable, unique, tingling sensation in the head or scalp (it can also extend down the body through the spine and into the limbs.) The phenomenon occurs in response to certain (and sometimes bizarre-seeming) triggers. But ASMR doesn’t just give people “the tingles;” the calming voices and soft whispers are intended to inspire a feeling of relaxation and safety, readying the body for rest.
Why: This video by GentleWhispering features the very popular ASMR artist (ASMRist), Maria, staring directly into the camera and whispering about how she hopes her voice might “help you relax deeper and make you sleepy.” Her slow actions combined with the sounds of the objects she scratches and massages make for an interesting sensory experience. (If that video leaves you wondering what the hell you just watched, try “[ASMR] Zen Garden Sleep AID - No Talking” by Made In France ASMR. This video will allow you to delve into the world of ASMR without an ASMRist making virtual eye contact with you, which can be uncomfortable for some viewers at first.)
Not into videos that involve speaking or create tingling feelings? Then cue up some binaural beats. A form of brainwave entrainment — that is, sounds that trick our brainwaves into producing slumber-friendly frequencies — binaural beats are patterns hidden within trance-like, electronic-tunes intended to synchronize with the natural rhythms of your sleep cycle and woo you to rest. Don’t believe in the power of unheard tunes? That’s fine. The relaxing nature of the tunes might woo you to sleep regardless.
Why: Well, to be a bit objective, we just like the music that’s present in this NuMeditationMusic video. It’s calming and easily fades into the background. Plus, the video is eight hours long, so, theoretically, this video could take you through a healthy, full night of sleep. (Like this? Consider trying “WARNING! Extremely Powerful Third Eye Opening Binaural Beat Meditation” by iGodMind Subliminal and Meditation Mind Movies. And on a side note: YouTubers, maybe we could agree that less is more with the names, amiright?)