Whether a sound is relaxing or disruptive depends a lot on the individual. Sometimes we find sounds pleasant because of positive emotional associations, so the sound of man’s best friend barking can be relaxing for a dog person. But there are lots of sounds out there, and it can take some time to figure out which ones work for you. Neuroscientists often recommend we try specific sounds for at least a few nights to find out if it’s really helping us get a better night’s rest. Try some of the sounds below for a solid chunk of snooze time.
- Make Some (White) Noise. White noisecombines all noise frequencies and can mask other sounds, and it sometimes helps treat insomnia . But be wary of white noise apps that can cause auditory nerve damage, Montgomery-Downs warns, especially for those who use headphones or have sensitive hearing . Instead she recommends using a white noise machine, similar to a fan stand.
- Embrace Nature. Ocean waves, rainforest animals, thunderstorms, and even the Chinese giant salamander can all be pleasant sounds to fall asleep to . Natural noises are less likely to annoy us than some other sounds because they usually include fluctuations in amplitude and frequency. But those using rain and ocean sounds should make sure there’s a toilet nearby, since Buxton warns that the sound of water can trigger the need to use the bathroom.
- Play That Funky Music. When a head full of worries is keeping us awake, music can help us relax a little . Avoid music with lyrics that may keep the mind active, and instead try classical, folk, or slow-paced contemporarystyles. But if using the radio or TV for music, use a timer, since the noise may disrupt sleep as the night progresses, whether we realize it or not.
- Get personal. Sometimes there’s nothing quite as relaxing as another human voice. Try some of the fancy new apps out there like pzizz, which lulls listeners to sleep with soothing voices, or record a close friend reciting the instructions in a muscle relaxation demo that can guide us into sleep.
- Soak Up the Silence. Some people find no noise is good noise, since it doesn’t have any associations with stress or negative emotions, so give silence a shot .