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Soothing Train Meditations and Sounds for Sleep
by BetterSleep
Dec 1 2022 • 9 min read
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If you find the idea of a train ride or the sound of a distant train soothing and relaxing, you’re not alone. Many people enjoy the low, mournful sound the whistle makes as it approaches a town, followed by the gentle rumbling as it moves through.

Of course, a train that is too close can have the opposite effect, surprising you, triggering a little bit of fear, and elevating your stress response. It’s all about context and distance.

If you enjoy the sound of a train, it could help you sleep better. Try meditations with train sounds, train background noises, and bedtime stories that take you on a train journey.

What Is it About Trains?

Trains are largely utilitarian as a type of transportation of people and goods, but they have a romantic past. There was a time when a train journey was the height of luxury for travelers. When railroads began to proliferate, they offered more people greater opportunities to travel and have adventures.

Today, a train ride is usually a commuter necessity, but some people also enjoy the romance and nostalgia of a long train ride. Some people even plan their entire vacations around a scenic railroad, like trips on the Trans Canada tours between Toronto and Vancouver.

For many people, the idea of a train journey is enough to bring on a sense of restfulness. Even the sound of a train in the distance can provide some peace of mind and melt stress away. There are several reasons, so many people feel this way about trains and train sounds.

Train Nostalgia

A lot of what anyone finds relaxing or comforting has to do with nostalgia and personal history. For example, if you grew up in a house a mile or two from train tracks, you probably heard the sounds of passing rail cars.

If your childhood was happy, you felt safe in bed at night and slept well, and that sound holds positive memories for you. Hearing it now, as an adult, takes you back to that safe, secure childhood setting and puts you at ease.

Nostalgia doesn’t have to be that personal to be powerful. Trains speak to many of us of a bygone, simpler era with certain associations. You might feel soothed hearing a train because it places you in a relaxing fantasy mindset of a romantic, idealized past. Even if it isn’t really true, your own association with it is what matters.

A Distant Train Is Similar to White Noise

White noise is a mix of all sound frequencies, like the fuzziness you hear when trying to tune between radio stations. The sound of trains moving in the distance isn’t white noise, but it is similar. Far enough away from it, you hear a steady chugging sound from the trains on the tracks.

For some people, white noise and similar sounds are particularly helpful for falling asleep. An obvious reason is that these sounds help drown out other noises that might be more disruptive. Studies show that people who struggle to sleep do better with white noise because it reduces disruptions from other environmental sounds.

White noise can also be generally relaxing. The steady hum or buzz of a background sound can make you feel less stressed. It might calm your heart rate and brain waves and help you focus on things like mindfulness and meditation that reduce anxiety and stress. A train chugging down the tracks is a sound you don’t have to think about but that provides that rhythmic, soothing sound.

It’s not possible to control the trains passing your home to get a steady influx of a white noise-like sound mix. But, you can use recorded train sounds to create a soothing flow that relaxes you and helps you sleep better or that serves as a backdrop for meditation.

A Train Journey Seems Relaxing

Whether you have been on a train for a long trip or not, the idea of it might seem relaxing, but why is that? In some ways, this goes back to the idea of nostalgia. Train travel seems old-fashioned, uncomplicated, and therefore less stressful.

While this might not be the reality for current or even past train travel, it’s an idea that sticks and has power. If you have a romantic idea of what travel by train is like, hearing train sounds can help you feel more relaxed and at peace.

Real Trains Might Make it Harder to Sleep

Unless you live an ideal distance from a train and use the right level of other ambient noises to give you the perfect sleep combination, a train in real life is more likely to be detrimental to sleep than helpful.

Imagine living a few blocks from a train. Trains sound their horns and slow down as they come through populated areas. You might have your sleep disrupted several times per night by that warning whistle.

Even if you think the sounds of the train are soothing, there’s more to it than that. A study of sleep in people living near frequent nighttime freight trains found that the vibrations can be an issue.

Researchers found that people exposed to the vibrations woke up more throughout the night, woke earlier in the mornings, experienced less slow wave sleep, and shifted through sleep cycles more frequently. All of these, whether you notice them consciously or not, reduce sleep quality.

Another study that investigated the effects of train noise on sleep found that both the sounds and the vibrations raise heart rate during sleep. This means that passing trains definitely affect sleep, and they could negatively impact your cardiovascular health as well.

Train Sounds as a Backdrop for Meditation

While it might not be possible to create a perfect situation in which you have a train just a mile or two away, you can build those sounds right in your bedroom. Using a mix of sounds on your device, you can drift off to the soothing rumble or distant whistle of a train on the tracks.

If that is soothing for you, take the sound and imagery of train travel to another level by adding meditation. Meditating regularly has proven benefits, including improving sleep. Whether you do it at bedtime or any other time of day, meditating to a sound you enjoy focusing on has a lot of health and sleep benefits.

Here’s what the experts know about the benefits of meditation as a mind and body practice for insomnia:

Meditation Initiates the Relaxation Response

One reason that meditation is so good for sleep is that it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the relaxation response. Meditation increases the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy at the end of the day.

It also reduces heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure, all of which lead to a sense of restfulness and reduced stress, perfect for sleep. Meditation also activates parts of the brain associated with sleep.

You don’t have to meditate right before bed to get the positive health benefits, but doing so primes the mind for sleep. It will also relax your body to help you release tension.

Regular Meditation and Relaxation

A single session of meditation can trigger the relaxation response and help you feel calmer in the moment. But when you practice regularly over the long term, it has an even greater effect on how you relax and get sleepy.

Regular meditation practice primes your brain to be able to relax more easily at will. It helps you respond more neutrally and with less emotion in a stressful situation. When you need to relax at bedtime to sleep better, as a practiced meditation, you’ll find it easier to do.

Meditation vs. Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to basic habits that improve sleep, like avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, creating a peaceful sleep environment, and getting exercise during the day.

A study of people with moderate insomnia symptoms compared sleep hygiene education with daily meditation. The results indicated that meditation was more effective at reducing insomnia and fatigue during the day.

Meditation Reduces Symptoms That Keep You Awake

Indirectly, meditation can improve your sleep by helping you manage chronic symptoms that keep you up at night. For instance, meditation improves symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you spend a lot of time ruminating at night because of anxiety and depression, meditation can help turn your brain off so you can sleep.

Meditation also helps with symptoms of chronic physical illnesses. A study of patients with fibromyalgia compared mindfulness practice with a control group placed on a waiting list for treatment.

Those who went through the meditation practice showed significant improvements in all measures, including symptoms like pain and fatigue. Controlling or coping better with physical symptoms can, in turn, improve sleep.

Soothing Train Meditation Sounds for Bedtime

If you like the sound of a train, BetterSleep has you covered. Our library of sounds includes hundreds of options and something for everyone.

Try the Train sound, which is a steady, relaxing rumble that you might hear close to the tracks or while on a train. It’s very similar to white noise and provides a soothing backdrop for bedtime or for your meditations.

Another one to try is Distant Train. This is the sound you might have heard living a mile or two from the tracks. You get a quieter rumble along with an intermittent but not disruptive train whistle.

For your dream meditation session, use these base sounds and mix in others that you like based on your current mood. For instance, get a cozy feel by adding Rain on Roof. To simulate the sound of a distant train while camping, try mixing in Campfire, Wind Surge, or Thunderstorm.

The train sounds are perfect on their own, but the many different options mean that you can create the ideal backdrop for your needs. Use the same mix nightly or change it up based on your current state of mind.

Take a Relaxing Train Journey Into Deep Sleep

Meditation with soothing sounds is a great way to improve your sleep. It makes a relaxing part of a bedtime routine that really prepares you for a good night of sleep.

Another element you might want to add to your nightly schedule is a bedtime story. Not just for kids, these days, adults have rediscovered how calming a story at night can be. Read with a soothing voice, you don’t even have to focus on a page or e-reader. Just listen to these relaxing train adventures read at a nice pace as you drift off to sleep and sweet dreams.

The Indigo Express

This is a 28-minute bedtime story, perfect as the last step in your calming bedtime routine. The Indigo Express takes you along on an adventure with three nomads in Kashmir. Listen to the storyteller describe this sleeper train and the Indian night outside as they pass through the beautiful countryside.

You’ll be guided softly past snow-capped mountains as these three friends enjoy the comfortable, cozy coaches. As you listen to the story, you’ll also hear the gentle rattle of the train and its low whistle as a backdrop. This is an optimistic story full of hope and adventure, but it’s also soothing and builds to a peaceful conclusion just as you begin to fall asleep.

Trans Canadian Train Journey

On this slightly longer journey, you’ll experience the famous Trans-Canadian railway journey. The story is 43 minutes long and takes you from Nova Scotia on the east coast all the way to the other side of Canada.

Start the journey by listening to the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean before you board the train to be immersed in a relaxing adventure.

Your guide will take you across the country, encouraging you to imagine every sensation a real passenger would, from the sounds of the train and cities it passes to chattering passengers and the aroma and taste of delicious foods. Watch out the windows as you pass ancient forests, swaying wheat fields, and snowy Rocky Mountains.

Overnight on the Star of Chennai

In 30-minutes, Overnight on the Star of Chennai takes you back in time for a fun journey as seen through the eyes of a child. A young boy experiences his first overnight train ride more than 200 years ago.

If you love the nostalgia of train journeys, the excitement of a new adventure, and traveling to new places, this is the bedtime story for you. You’ll be guided softly at a nice pace by the narrator as she takes you from the busy railway station onto the sleeper cabin as the little boy sees everything with new eyes. All that makes him tired. You’ll drift off to sleep with him to the sounds of the moving train.

The Netherlands By Train

Another great train journey takes you through the Netherlands in this 48-minute bedtime story. Start at Amsterdam’s historic train station on a sunny summer day and enjoy all the sights, sounds, and smells of a trip across this small country with a rich history and culture.

The train takes you past narrow canals and charismatic Dutch homes, birds in their nests perched high in trees, the aroma of woodsmoke coming from country homes, and the country’s famous, vibrant tulip fields.

Bedtime stories aboard trains are the perfect mix of restfulness and adventure at a nice pace for sleep. See new places and experience new sensations, all from the cozy safety of your bed. Let the narrators take your mind away from the worries of the day so you can fall asleep.

If you want to fall asleep fast, enjoy pleasant dreams, and indulge in soothing sounds, BetterSleep is your new best friend. It offers many tools and themes and sounds to match everyone’s taste. If train sounds are what soothe you, make your own personalized sound mixes, use a guided meditation, and then listen to a calming train story at bedtime.

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