20 best Netflix shows to fall asleep to because wow we need some zzzzzs

Composite of images from Netflix TV shows, including

If you've been scrolling through your Netflix queue in the middle of the night, you're not alone. 

Between the wildfires in Canada, the overall climate crisis, and the war on reproductive rights, society can feel like a waking nightmare. No one would blame you for overlooking your best judgment and finding comfort wherever you can. Yes, falling asleep with the TV on isn't "great" for us. (Blue light, we know.) 

Still, it's been a help during rough times. So, while we're not recommending you pick up this habit, we are happy to help those of you who are already doing it. Better than counting sheep, by a wide margin, here are 20 of the best shows on Netflix to fall asleep to, ranked from least to most soothing.

20. Derry Girls

A group of young women and one young man stand in front of a van. Many of them wear shirts that say
The Derry legends. Credit: Netflix

I cannot be the only person completely enchanted by the voices of the Derry Girls. Set in '90s Northern Ireland, this heartwarming portrayal of teenage friendship is certainly the rowdiest selection on this list — so if you really need to sleep, the show shouldn't be your first pick. But if you think you could do with a few laughs before drifting off, look no further than this bunch. They're the best. — Alison Foreman, Entertainment Writer

How to watch: Derry Girls is now streaming on Netflix.

19. Moving Art

Consisting of nothing but the spectacular nature photography of filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg with some trance-inducing music laid over it, Moving Art is screen-saver serenity. Across three seasons and in episodes that range from 25 minutes to just under an hour, Schwartzberg (whose similar doc Fantastic Fungi made our list of Trippy series) takes us on a guided visual tour of some of the most spectacular and beautiful places on Earth. From the Galapagos to Machu Picchu his camera floats above, detached and observant, making the viewer feel as if they’ve already left their body and are taking in the sights astral-projection-style. — Jason Adams, Freelance Contributor

How to watch: Moving Art is now streaming on Netflix.

18. Samurai Gourmet

A samurai eats ramen in
Just an absolute delight. Credit: Netflix

Based on Masayuki Kusumi's manga series about a retired man named Takeshi who awakens his inner samurai by finding good local food to eat, this 12-episode series stars longtime character actor Naoto Takenaka, whose immensely genial presence will make you feel warm and welcome right from the start. And that's before you even get lost among his simple adventures, spanning around 20 minutes each, which see him take up walking for a hobby, or wondering how his new sunglasses make him look. It doesn't get more low-key, low-stakes, and highly delightful.  — J.A.

How to watch: Samurai Gourmet is now streaming on Netflix.

17. The Hidden Lives of Pets

There is a bunny rabbit that paints! I repeat: a bunny rabbit that paints! If you’re not sold on that alone, I’m not sure we speak the same language. In these four half-hour episodes, all narrated by Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville, The Hidden Lives of Pets takes a look at the things our little furry, feathery, or otherwise feeling friends can do besides your typical fetch and squawk. Come for the dancing cockatoo, laugh with the racing tortoises, but live for that painting bunny rabbit. — J.A.

How to watch: The Hidden Lives of Pets is now streaming on Netflix.

16. Queer Eye

Four men and one nonbinary person, all in fancy clothing, sit on a couch and applaud.
Five cheers for the Fab Five. Credit: Ilana Panich-Linsman / Netflix

If you want to get the most out of Queer Eye, you should definitely pay full attention to each and every minute of this delightful reality series. But if you're rewatching the show like us, feel free to doze off mid-hero narrative. Journey with the Fab 5 to see the series' lucky participants master self-love through grooming, cooking, fashion, interior design, and whatever Karamo Brown has been up to lately. It's just lovely. — A.F.

How to watch: Queer Eye is now streaming on Netflix.

15. Seinfeld

Jerry in the pirate shirt in
Remember the puffy shirt? Credit: NBC TV / Kobal / Shutterstock

Perhaps my New Yorker self is showing by putting this one on this list, but the local affiliate station here in New York used to play reruns of this classic '90s sitcom every weeknight from 11 p.m. til midnight, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve fallen fast asleep to the soothing sounds of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer asking what’s the deal with those little bags of peanuts they give you on airplanes. And since cutting the cord and relying on streaming only, this is as close as I’ll ever get to that sense of city-boy comfort ever again. 

All nine seasons of our foursome’s legendary antics doing nothing are here for the bingeing; just pick a random episode, curl up on the couch, and before you can say "master of my domain," I’ll be snoring in your ear. And not even Frank Costanza’s most unhinged rant could shake me!  — J.A.

How to watch: Seinfeld is now streaming on Netflix.

14. Life in Color with David Attenborough

A peacock with its tail completely unfurled and raised behind it.
So. Much. Color. Credit: Netflix

There are few voices more soothing than David Attenborough's, and there are few visuals more soothing than the beauty of nature. In Life in Color with David Attenborough, you get both! Attenborough guides us through the different uses the animal kingdom has for color in this three-part docuseries, which features truly glorious footage — and beautiful colors, of course. — Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter 

How to watch: Life in Color with David Attenborough is now streaming on Netflix.

13. Alien Worlds

If you want to have some really bonkers dreams, there’s no better way to get that imagination churning than Alien Worlds, a four-part docuseries that uses CG and the ramblings of scientists to imagine what the life-forms of other planets could look like, given other factors in their development. Narrated by Sophie Okonedo, the show depicts the rise and fall of civilizations of strange creatures on four imagined planets, demonstrating how our scientific laws here on Earth would get applied to some very different, theoretical circumstances. Mostly it’s just weirdo creature nirvana, like the bar in Star Wars on steroids. — J.A.

How to watch: Alien Worlds is now streaming on Netflix.

12. Babies

A man and woman hold the hands of a small child walking between them on the street. The child is wearing a yellow raincoat.
Cuteness overload. Credit: Netflix

Few things are as spectacularly infectious as the joy of little kids. In Netflix's Babies, documentarians observe a whole bunch of cuties during their first years of life — examining how these tiny humans learn, grow, and explore our world. If you find babies cute, you'll love this show. But fair warning, you may struggle to sleep through the night if you don't put your TV on a timer. You know, with the crying and all. — A.F.

How to watch: Babies is now streaming on Netflix.

11. Hilda

A young girl with blue hair and a fox with deer horns frolic through a green valley along with another young woman and young man.
Oh to live in Hilda's world. Credit: Netflix

You should definitely give Hilda your full attention, but once you've made your way through this charming animated show, it's one you'll want to come back to over and over for warm fuzzy comfort. Hilda (voiced by Bella Ramsey) is a young explorer whose neighbors just happen to be creatures from folklore — elves, trolls, rat kings, and more. From its adorable animation style to its all-around cozy vibe, Hilda is an excellent watch for when you're awake or for when you want to be lulled off to dreams of gentle adventure. — B.E. 

How to watch: Hilda is now streaming on Netflix.

10. Gudetama: An Eggcellent Adventure

When exhausted yourself, who better to vibe on than the world’s most exhausted sentient egg? Created in Japan in 2013 for an animated series, Gudetama (aka the little egg yolk who couldn’t be bothered) finally made the defeated, depressed leap to the U.S. with the 10-episode series An Eggcellent Adventure in 2022. Most episodes, which plop the beautifully animated little fella into the real world alongside a baby chick who befriends them, are no longer than 10 minutes — just enough time to shrug your worries off into the frying pan of sleepy oblivion. — J.A.

How to watch: Gudetama: An Eggcellent Adventure is now streaming on Netflix.

9. The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals

If tourism slash real estate porn is your drug of choice, you won’t find more dopamine than you do out of The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals. Each 30-minute-ish episode is usually based around a theme — modern homes, eco-friendly homes, homes built into trees. It then sends its three hosts (Luis D. Ortiz, Jo Franco and Megan Batoon) to a variation on each theme, kind of like the three bears in Goldilocks. Luis finds the luxury version, Jo finds the best budget, while Megan susses out the weirdest, most singular examples. But mostly you’re just oohing and ahhing at the truly gorgeous locations. — J.A.

How to watch: The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals is now streaming on Netflix.

8. Gilmore Girls

Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel pose in promo image of
Everybody sleeps better in Stars Hollow. Credit: Frank Ockenfels / Warner Bros TV / Kobal / Shutterstock

The "comfort" in "comfort TV" doesn’t get much more comfortable than it does in the land of Stars Hollow, the setting of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s series Gilmore Girls. Following the trials and tribulations of Lorelei (Lauren Graham) and her teen daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) as they try to find self-realization and romance across its seven seasons, the show (and Stars Hollow) feels like home to a lot of people who watched the characters grow and change and talk real fast at one another for those seven years. There is even something comforting about that quick patter, the rhythm of which eventually blurs everything into a soft white noise. It’s the box fan of serial aughts storytelling, basically. — J.A.

How to watch: Gilmore Girls is now streaming on Netflix.

7. Night on Earth 

The majestic scenery of a good nature documentary always pairs well with a nap. Night on Earth, narrated by Orange Is the New Black's Samira Wiley, is an especially good TV choice as it documents what many other species are up to while we're all in bed. It's beautiful but a little touchy with volume, so keep this one on low lest you be surprised by a roar or growl. — A.F.

How to watch: Night on Earth is now streaming on Netflix.

6. The Mind, Explained 

Generally speaking, all of the Explained docuseries are good picks for falling asleep. The episodes are evenly paced, engaging but not overly so, and easy to start over should you nod off and decide you want to catch it at a later time. In the order of this reporter's personal experience, the Explained series from most to least easy to fall asleep to are: The Mind, Sex, the main Explained series, and then ... Coronavirus. (Yeah, I don't recommend that one. Not for sleeping, anyway.) — A.F.

How to watch: The Mind, Explained is now streaming on Netflix.

5. Grace & Frankie

Two older women, one in a red sweater, one in a black draped shirt, sit at a table with a crystal ball on it.
Lily Tomlin + Jane Fonda = perfection. Credit: Saeed Adyani / Netflix

Let these two fierce, fearless, fabulous females guide you into a relaxing slumber. Join Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as the titular Grace & Frankie, plus Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston, June Diane Raphael, Ethan Embry, Baron Vaughn, and Brooklyn Decker in the warmest, most loving sitcom available on Netflix. Nothing says comfort TV like a half hour with the Hanson-Bergsteins. — A.F.

How to watch: Grace and Frankie is now streaming on Netflix.

4. Our Universe

I’ll see your Richard Attenborough and raise him one Mr. Morgan Freeman! The voice of God himself narrates this six-part docuseries that attempts to tell the story of everything, from the Big Bang all the way down to Everything Everywhere All at Once or thereabouts. (And it does so without a single bagel in sight! Top that, Michelle Yeoh.) Themed around itty-bitty little subjects like gravity or the elements, each episode tries to capture the magnificence of creation, from star to shining star. But under Freeman’s dulcet tones unfathomable enormity somehow becomes absolute solace. — J.A.

 How to watch: Our Universe is now streaming on Netflix.

3. Get Organized with The Home Edit

A very organized walk-in closet, with clothes on hangers on two different walls and shoes and purses on the far end of the room.
Consider this closet organized. Credit: Rob Liggins / Netflix

Bask in the satisfaction of symmetry, order, and all things categorization with this home-makeover show led by the ladies of The Home Edit. A cheery, less philosophical Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, Get Organized follows professional organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin as they change lives (typically with stuff from The Container Store). — A.F.

How to watch: Get Organized with The Home Edit  is now streaming on Netflix.

2. The Great British Baking Show

Two women and two men sit around a wooden table looking at seven plates that hold slices of various desserts.
I would like to eat everything on that table. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

I've said it once and I'll say it again: Cooking shows are the best genre of television to fall asleep to, bar none. The mouth-watering visuals, inviting sounds, and typically cheery talent form a cocoon of comforting content, perfect for drifting off to Snoozeville. (Cooking shows are so ideally suited to falling asleep, we have a whole list dedicated to that specific streaming need.) If you're looking for the best of the best, go with none other than The Great British Baking Show. Sweet dreams, bakers. — A.F.

How to watch: The Great British Baking Show is now streaming on Netflix.

1. Headspace: Guide to Sleep

If all else fails, why not go straight to the source? A seven-part series created in 2021 for Netflix by the sleep-aid app Headspace, these animated shorts (each one runs at under 20 minutes) will lull your brain with smoothly delivered facts about dreams or sleeping pills or meditation. And each episode ends with a "guided wind-down" designed to carry you straight into slumber-town. There’s also an interactive version called "Unwind Your Mind" and an eight-episode series called "Guide to Meditation" if you need to call in the big guns. — J.A.

How to watch: Headspace: Guide to Sleep is now streaming on Netflix.

UPDATE: Jun. 7, 2023, 4:30 p.m. EDT This article has been updated to reflect the current selection on Netflix.