Sodium (Na) metal is one of the most promising electrode materials for next-generation low-cost rechargeable batteries. However, the challenges caused by dendrite growth on Na metal anodes restrict practical applications of rechargeable Na metal batteries. Herein, a nitrogen and sulfur co-doped carbon nanotube (NSCNT) paper is used as the interlayer to control Na nucleation behavior and suppress the Na dendrite growth. The N- and S-containing functional groups on the carbon nanotubes induce the NSCNTs to be highly "sodiophilic," which can guide the initial Na nucleation and direct Na to distribute uniformly on the NSCNT paper. As a result, the Na-metal-based anode (Na/NSCNT anode) exhibits a dendrite-free morphology during repeated Na plating and striping and excellent cycling stability. As a proof of concept, it is also demonstrated that the electrochemical performance of sodium-oxygen (Na-O2) batteries using the Na/NSCNT anodes show significantly improved cycling performances compared with Na-O2 batteries with bare Na metal anodes. This work opens a new avenue for the development of next-generation high-energy-density sodium-metal batteries.