The 6 Best TV Shows to Fall Asleep To
Because no one actually follows the "no screens before bed" rule.
According to Sleep Foundation, 73 percent of adults watch TV before they go to sleep at night, and smartphones and tablets have only made it easier to catch an episode from the cocoon of your bed. Experts say this can negatively affect your sleep quality, but nodding off to a comfort series is a habit many of us just can't quit. Looking for a show that will soothe your mind so you can get some shut-eye? This is obviously a deeply personal decision—if you prefer being lulled into slumber by a cacophony of New Jersey housewives bickering over loyalty or zombies mauling survivors, more power to you. But for those TV fans who'd rather put on a warm and easy series before they hit the hay, we have some options. Read on for six perfect TV shows to fall asleep to and where to stream them.
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The cozy Boston bar setting, the easy drama that's resolved at the end of each episode, and the quick and witty dialogue that (mostly) stands the test of time makes Cheers, which ran from 1982 to 1993, one of the best sitcoms to fall asleep to. The ensemble comedy about friends who gather at their local watering hole consists of 275 episodes across 11 seasons, so you have plenty of material to keep you company. And while there are certain arcs, like the will-they-won't-they of Sam Malone (Ted Danson) and (Diane Chambers), the episodic nature of the series means that you won't be too confused if you fall asleep mid-one episode and wake up a few later.
If talky sitcoms are your brand of sleepy-time TV, you can also check out to Cheers spinoff Frasier (Hulu, Peacock), Seinfeld (Netflix), or Friends (HBO Max).
Where to watch it: Paramount+
Netflix's newest dating reality show will either keep you mildly entertained or whisk you off into a deep sleep, depending on your tolerance for nonsense. Hosted by Nick Lachey, Perfect Match features over a dozen reality stars from other Netflix shows (Love Is Blind, The Circle, The Mole, Twentysomethings, etc.), who are put in a house to find their soulmate. Couples who win daily challenges such as "Fact or Cap" get to choose more singles to come into the house, thus having the power to potentially sabotage relationships.
If you're a reality fan, you'll recognize a few faces, making it feel like you've seen this all before. (All the better for dozing off.) But the fact that most of the contestants are openly there just to play the game and not truly find love makes it so that newbies can also relish in the chaos of watching good-looking, petty people try to work their way up to C-list status.
The Love Island franchise (Hulu, Paramount+) and even early seasons of The Bachelor or Bachelor in Paradise (Apple TV+, Hulu Live) will also do the trick for a low-key, completely inane reality TV treat before bed.
Where to watch it: Netflix
The World's Most Extraordinary Homes
Originally a BBC 2 production, The World's Most Extraordinary Homes was wisely picked up by Netflix for distribution to U.S. audiences. Watch architect Piers Taylor and actor Caroline Quentin travel all over the world—sometimes to remote locations—to tour truly magnificent and wholly unique homes. No one is trying to a make a cutthroat deal, yelling at a broker, or working against time and budget to build their dream home—this series is truly just real estate wish fulfillment, where you get to see how the extremely wealthy and adventurous built a fascinating, beautiful home deep in a South American jungle or hanging off a cliff in the Alps. Plus, the commentary from Taylor and Quentin is practically ASMR, as they marvel over a rare marble counter or modern conveniences were added to a centuries-old creation.
Once you've finished this show, you can move onto Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles (Peacock), Buying Beverly Hills (Netflix), or Escape to the Country (Freevee or Britbox).
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Where to watch: Netflix
Falling asleep to ESPN's SportsCenter or post-game commentary on the NBA Live app might be triggering for dedicated sports fans to watch before bed for dedicated sports fans, but the too-short-lived sitcom Sports Night offers no such controversy. Created by Aaron Sorkin, the series, which premiered in 1998, stars Josh Charles and Peter Krause as co-anchors of the sports highlights show of the title. It's not serialized, so you might find yourself rewinding each night to pick up where you left off so you can keep up with all of the love triangles and fast-paced dialogue about what goes into making a nightly network broadcast. But the cult classic is just the sort of low-stakes drama one might need before bedtime, without worrying about whether or not your team will make it to the playoffs. Plus, the various references to sports stars and events of the late-'90s give Sports Night just enough authenticity to satisfy for fans of any game.
Coach (The Roku Channel, Amazon), Ballers (HBO Max), and Hanging With Mr. Cooper (HBO Max) are other "about sports but not really about sports" shows that make for a pretty good grownup lullaby.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Vudu
Damon Wayans Jr., Adam Pally, Casey Wilson, Elisha Cuthbert, Eliza Coupe, and Zachary Knighton star as a group of friends navigating romance and life in general in this chaotic and cheery 2011 sitcom. Happy Endings kicks off with a couple in the group abruptly calling off their wedding and the fallout from that, but it quickly morphs post-pilot into a story less about heartbreak and more about six friends (the Friends comparison is apt) having each others' hapless, yet very earnest, backs. The banter is quick and funny, the drama is mostly wrapped up each episode, and the stakes are always fairly low, making this a great show to watch while you indulge in a midnight snack and nod off after a long day.
If the non-stop punchlines of Happy Endings are too taxing to keep track of late at night, try New Girl (Netflix), Playing House (The Roku Channel, Amazon), Cougar Town (Hulu) or Living Single (Hulu, HBO Max, Philo), which are just as funny.
Where to Watch: Hulu, HBO Max
The Belcher family has been entertaining audiences for thirteen seasons (and a movie!) so far, and for good reason—Bob's Burgers is wholesome, smart, and filled with funny musical numbers. The standard episode formula involves the family getting into some kind of mischief, usually led by kids Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman), and Louise (Kristen Schaal), but often involving mom Linda (John Roberts) and dad Bob (H. Jon Benjamin), too. And the family always sticks together, despite their individually strange interests and less-than-popular burger business.
Other shows including Aqua Teen Hunger Force (HBO Max, Hulu), Tuca & Bertie (HBO Max, Hulu), and both the original Animaniacs and its recent reboot (Hulu) may fit the bill for animation fans to fall asleep to.
Where to watch it: Hulu