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sleep / wellness

What are Sleep Sounds?

by BetterSleep
Nov 29 2022 • 7 min read
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Some sounds help you fall asleep, and others prevent you from sleeping at all. Sleep sounds are in the former category and can lead to a more restful night’s sleep.

Sleep sounds such as white noise, pink noise, and nature sounds aren’t startling like some environmental noises. Pink noise includes sounds like soft rain, ocean waves crashing or the wind blowing.

This type of pink noise, played at a steady 60 decibels, was found to help participants fall asleep faster in a study.

White noise is similar to static coming from an untuned radio or TV. This constant hum is effective at drowning out background noise and can help some people sleep better.

In one study of adults, participants fell asleep on average 38% faster when listening to white noise than those who didn’t.

While sleep sounds won’t be right for everybody, some people find that total silence can be worse. Racing thoughts and the stresses of the day can seem relentless and hard to tune out.

If this sounds like you, listening to sleep sounds could be the answer. This article is going to investigate the best sleep sounds, their benefits, who they are right for, and where to find the best sleep apps.

Can Sleep Sounds Actually Help You Fall Asleep?

Yes, listening to ambient sounds at night can help you sleep better and hear less of the noise going on around you. Masking background sounds is one of the biggest reasons people start using sound apps.

Sound is a huge disruptor of sleep, and many people have to deal with traffic noises, a partner snoring, flatmates chattering, or other different city noises. And while you can’t stop these noises altogether, sleep sounds, such as white noise, do a good job of masking them.

One 2016 study published in the Journal of Caring Sciences reported that individuals slept better in a hospital setting while using a white noise machine compared to those who didn’t.

Listening to white noise is also helpful for those with tinnitus. Ringing in the ears from tinnitus often isn’t heard much during the day with other environmental sounds.

But, at night, in the silence, the ringing can become disruptive and white noise is a way to drown that out.

What Are the Benefits of Listening to Sleep Sounds?

Sleep sounds such as white noise, pink noise, brown noise, soothing music, and nature sounds are known to help people get a more restful sleep. If you’re looking to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, soothing sounds are worth trying.

Here are a few of the many benefits:

Becomes Part of a Ritual

If you suffer from insomnia, you probably know the importance of having a regular bedtime schedule. A nightly routine signals to your brain that it’s time to relax and get ready for sleep.

A healthy bedtime routine might include reading, having a warm bath, drinking chamomile tea, putting android devices away, and listening to soothing sounds. Building a quality bedtime ritual will improve sleep quality and aid in getting rid of insomnia.

Uses Sound as a Signal

Listening to nature sounds or white noise in the evening becomes a signal for sleep. The more you incorporate sound into your sleep schedule, the more your body will begin to associate those sounds with rest.

Drowns Out Environmental Noise

Have you ever laid awake listening to your flatmates laugh and talk? Or have you been woken by a large truck rattling by your window? When you’re trying to get to sleep, these noises can seem even louder and can make it hard to sleep at all.

White noise is effective at masking environmental noises. It doesn’t stop the noise, but it blocks out those sudden changes in noise that can disturb light sleepers.

Teaches Your Brain to Relax

The main cause of insomnia is anxious, racing thoughts that keep you staring at the ceiling all night. This might be from stress at work, family troubles, or an illness.

A good way to relax the mind is to listen to sounds for sleep which gives you something to focus on other than your anxious thoughts.

Helps You Sleep Deeper and Longer

Listening to sounds can help you fall asleep faster and fall into a deeper sleep. Sedative music, in particular, showed in one study to help participants improve their quality of sleep.

Where to Listen to Sleep Sounds?

The best places to listen to white noise and nature sounds include white noise apps, podcasts, white noise machines, and YouTube videos.

The BetterSleep app contains over 200 soothing sounds and a range of smart features to help you sleep faster, deeper, and for longer. Listen to multiple nature sounds such as wind blowing, ocean waves, rain sounds, waterfall sounds, birds chirping, and crickets.

Plus, you can try out something a little different such as ASMR, solfeggio, calming melodies, bedtime stories, and the sounds of a spaceship. Use a pre-made mix or make your own, and use the handy timer, so your sounds turn off when it suits you.

7 Best Sleep Sounds to Help You Fall Asleep Faster

Are you wondering what the most popular sounds for sleep are? There are multiple sounds to choose from, but a few of the best include:

White Noise

White noise is the mixture of all sound frequencies at the same time. This low level of intensity does a good job of masking out other noises that can keep you awake at night.

Comforting white noises include the whir of a fan, the hum of an air conditioner, or the static crackle from a TV. Use a white noise app or a white noise machine to help lull you to sleep.

Ocean Waves

There’s nothing more relaxing than chilling on the beach under a palm tree while listening to the waves lap up to shore. If you don’t live near a beach, the good news is that you can bring the sounds of the ocean to your bedroom with a white noise app.

Rain and Running Water

Steady rain, heavy rain, and all different water sounds are extremely relaxing. A white noise app can produce these watery sounds for you and even allow you to adjust the volume so you won’t get woken abruptly.

Nature Sounds

Walking in the woods is a great way to relieve stress, and listening to the sounds of nature can also help you relax before bed. Just because you can’t go hiking every day shouldn’t mean you miss out on this.

Listen to the wind whistling, crickets chattering, the rain and wind howling, birds chirping, and even the soothing sounds of a crackling fire. These calming nature sounds will help you relax and calm your racing thoughts so you can drift off to sleep.

Relax Melodies

Music helps you get better sleep by calming parts of the autonomic nervous system. This leads to a slower heart rate, slower breathing, and reduced blood pressure. Opt for relaxing songs with slow rhythms of around 60 to 80 beats per minute.

Pink Noise

Pink noise gives a balance of low and high-frequency sounds that are similar to the sounds of nature. Examples include waves on a beach, steady rain, or wind rustling through the trees.

According to a study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, listening to pink noise helps you spend more time in deep, slow-wave sleep.

Soothing Voices

Remember that comforting feeling of being read to as a child? For some, human voices at a low level remain a soothing sleep sound their whole life. Whispering, which is often heard in ASMR (auto sensory meridian response), can create a tingling feeling and be a relaxing way to fall asleep.

What Else is Helpful to Improve Sleep Health?

Relaxing sounds for sleep are just one way to get a better night’s rest. Other ideas to help you sleep faster and longer include:

  • Reading. Reading before bed is helpful because it’s a stress reducer. By learning about someone else’s story, you can take your mind off your own racing thoughts.
  • Journalling. Journalling before bed is thought to reduce worrying, helping you to fall asleep faster. Getting your ideas and stresses down on paper can lift a weight off your shoulders, allowing you to sleep faster and deeper.
  • Bedtime Stories. Bedtime stories are not just for kids! If you read bedtime stories as a child, your brain will automatically associate stories with sleep as an adult. Making them part of your nighttime routine is a way to let your brain know it’s time to sleep.
  • Guided Meditations. A few of the best guided meditations for sleep include the body scan, breathing meditation, and gratitude meditation. Meditation is well known to increase feelings of relaxation and positivity and can lower the heart rate and breathing which will help you drop into a restful sleep.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many sounds for sleep that are effective at improving sleep health. But remember, each person’s response to sound is individual, and while one person might find a cat purring really relaxing, someone else might get kept awake by it.

Pay attention to what noises relax you in your waking life, and it’s highly likely these sounds will help you get a night of better sleep. Try listening to different sounds in your bedtime routine for a few nights at a time, and take note of how your mind and body feel.

Do you feel stimulated, or are you constantly nodding off? With a little trial and error, you’ll find the right combination of sleep sounds that works for you.

Sleep deeper and longer with curated sounds, meditations, and stories on the BetterSleep app.

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