When NBCUniversal announced that it would be pulling The Office and Parks and Recreation from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime ahead of its own streaming service’s launch, one question reverberated around the internet: “What will I fall asleep to now?”
From The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson to Nick at Nite, lounging and straight up dozing off under the blue glow of a TV screen is a time-honored tradition. Thanks to the age of streaming, though, we’re no longer confined to whatever television networks happen to program in the 11:30 p.m. timeslot.
Judging by my Twitter feed (not to mention my own TV sleeping habits), the most popular falling-asleep shows among millennials are NBC sitcoms from the ’90s and early aughts: Friends, 30 Rock, the aforementioned Parks and Recreation and The Office. There’s something especially relaxing about rewatching (and rewatching and rewatching) the sitcoms we grew up with. But at a certain point those familiar jokes becoming grating instead of comforting, by value of sheer repetition.
Whether you’re preparing for Peacock to take your favorite chill, sleep-inducing sitcoms away or are just tired (no pun intended) of your go-to falling-asleep show, we’re rounding up some of our favorite shows to throw on when you’re ready to doze off.
The Andy Griffith Show
The Andy Griffith Show is one of those sitcoms that feels like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket, especially if, like me, your grandparents loved Andy Griffith. Even if you haven’t watched this particular sitcom, the story patterns and joke rhythms are predictable, which is itself relaxing. As a small town sheriff, most of Andy’s problems are low stakes and can be solved in 23 minutes. His slow southern drawl should lull you to sleep pretty quickly.
Big Dreams, Small Spaces
Low key British reality shows are perfect for falling asleep. Lots of people throw on The Great British Baking Show when they’re having trouble decompressing, but I’d suggest adding the gardening show Big Dreams, Small Spaces to your repertoire. Host Monty Don helps the amateur horticulturalists of England give their gardens a glow-up. It’s just lovely.
Big Dreams, Small Spaces is streaming on Netflix.
My husband has come close to vetoing Bob’s Burgers as a falling-asleep show, since it tends to get “shouty.” But if you’re a heavy sleeper like me, you shouldn’t have a problem nodding off. There’s just something nice about falling asleep to a show about a weird little family who love each other unconditionally. Plus, you’ll wake up humming the soundtrack, which is fun.
Bob’s Burgers is streaming on Hulu.
Boy Meets World
One of the best parts of Disney Plus is the huge library of childhood favorite shows that we can now binge for all eternity. Any show that you loved watching after school is great for falling asleep to. For me, that’s Boy Meets World. Knowing that Cory and Topanga (spoiler alert) end up together takes all the stress out of watching their seven-year courtship.
Boy Meets World is streaming on Disney Plus.
Another slice-of-life favorite, Gilmore Girls is set in a sleepy New England town. That cozy cozy aesthetic combined with laughably low dramatic stakes and Carole King’s dreamy soundtrack makes Gilmore Girls one of the most relaxing teen dramas you can stream right now.
Gilmore Girls is streaming on Netflix.
Most of Bon Appetit’s test kitchen videos are great for winding down. Charming chef-hosts make food in a large, clean kitchen, with no Gordon Ramsay-ish yelling or Top Chef-style dramatic competition to drive up your pulse. My personal favorite is Gourmet Makes, in which pastry chef Claire Saffitz tries to recreate mass-produced snack foods.
Game shows are a classic falling-asleep show, but now that old Jeopardy! episodes are on Netflix you no longer have to channel surf to find game show reruns.
Crime procedurals are usually too tense to fall asleep to, but not Monk. Tony Shalhoub’s portrayal of the obsessive-compulsive detective who dresses in various shades of brown is much gentler than, say, Christopher Meloni’s hot-headed Detective Stabler of Law and Order: SVU.
Monk is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
One Strange Rock
Planet Earth is often thrown around as a relaxing bedtime watch, but David Attenborough’s British baritone isn’t the only soothing voice in town. Will Smith narrates the National Geographic series One Strange Rock, which punctuates nature footage with interviews with NASA astronauts to provide perspective on what it means to be an Earthling. Interviewee Col. Chris Hadfield is probably best known for recording “Space Oddity” onboard the International Space Station; His speaking voice is basically ASMR.
One Strange Rock is streaming on Disney Plus.
The Big Brother-style Japanese show Terrace House is one of the calmest, most relaxing reality shows I’ve ever seen — and I watch a lot of reality shows. Four seasons of the show are now streaming on Netflix, each with a different cast.
Terrace House is streaming on Netflix.