Best Noise to Sleep to/Best Music for Sleep
Exposure to environmental noise can disrupt sleep and increase the chances of long-term health effects. This is because it causes the body to secrete cortisol, a steroid that keeps us alert. As a result, you may find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night as you try to get some rest.
In addition to disrupting your sleep, excessive noise exposure can also lead to insomnia, which can have detrimental effects on your daily life. However, perfect silence at night isn't always necessary for sleep. Some sounds can actually enhance your sleep and protect you against unwanted and intrusive noise.
In this definitive guide, we'll explore in great detail how music and noise could improve your sleep quality, the best music genres to listen to at night, and other health benefits of sleep sounds.
How Your Aural Environment Affects Sleep
It's easy to overlook the impact of background noise on sleep, as it can seem as if sleeping makes us oblivious to everything that happens in the outside world. However, even when you're deep asleep, your brain can still register and process noise.
So, even if ambient noise doesn't make you consciously wake up, it can still negatively impact your sleep quality and overall health and well-being. If you try to think back, you can likely remember a time when a noisy locale made it difficult to fall asleep or a sudden background noise woke you up.
In fact, according to research on ICU patients, irregular exposure to noise can disrupt your circadian rhythm, making it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Nighttime noise can also lead to extra secretion of hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, not to mention an elevated heart rate, all of which have the potential to negatively influence sleep.
Short-term and Long-term Effects
Getting sufficient sleep is crucial for feeling rejuvenated and performing at your peak. While you may not notice minor changes to your sleep structure at night, these changes can manifest in more pronounced ways when you wake up. Excessive daytime sleepiness, poor mental health, and irritability are all associated with exposure to environmental noise the night before.
On the other hand, long-term exposure to nighttime noise has been linked with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, and high blood pressure. Studies also indicate a possible association with heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and decreased overall health.
How Do Sleep Sounds Help You Sleep?
Many parents know from experience that soothing music helps their children to fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Numerous studies have shown that kids of all ages sleep better after listening to gentle, calming music.
Fortunately, kids aren't the only ones who can make the most of soothing melodies before bedtime. People across various age groups report improved sleep quality after listening to gentle rhythms.
Below, we'll talk about how sleep sounds can improve sleep quality and sleep efficiency in great detail.
Mask Disruptive Noises
Ever experienced those awful nights when it seems like the entire universe is conspiring to keep you from falling asleep? Whether it's a dog barking or noisy neighbors, any slight noise at night can seem even louder when you're struggling to get to bed.
That's where sleep sounds come in extra handy.
These sounds create a masking effect, blocking out disruptive noises that frustrate light sleepers or those trying to fall asleep. For example, when you switch on your white noise machine at night, you're less likely to be woken up by background noises like your partner's snoring.
Background environments that reduce stress and promote relaxation can also positively impact your moods. For example, listening to soothing melodies can decrease anxiety levels, thus improving mood. What's more, nature sounds are known for their calming effect on people and can help reduce depression symptoms. This, in turn, contributes to deep and restful sleep and overall well-being.
Help You Relax
Stress and anxiety can easily keep you up all night long. And noises outside can make it even harder to relax and fall asleep. Listening to music and relaxing sounds can contribute to relaxation by providing a distraction, thus helping you drift off. These melodies can also soothe the autonomic nervous system (the body's natural system for controlling unconscious or automatic processes), leading to lower heart rate, slower breathing, and reduced blood pressure.
Studies have shown that listening to relaxing nature sounds, like birds chirping, can reduce stress levels and promote relaxation by lowering cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress). Similarly, music therapy and white noise have been found to be highly effective in minimizing stress and promoting relaxation by drowning out noise and creating a peaceful atmosphere.
What Color Noises Are Perfect for Sleep?
The best sound for sleep can greatly vary from one person to the other but consider using loud sounds that can cover other noises. You'll also be better off with sounds that maintain an even volume and tone, as sudden sound changes might cause you to wake up. Consider experimenting with different sounds to see what works best for you.
Generally, white noise is produced when multiple sound frequencies are layered at the same time. Far from a catchy tune, this noise is simply a relaxing tone, offering a night sound that can make your eyes grow heavy, your brain relax, and your body drift off to slumberland. Considered the best sleep sound by many sleep experts, white noise is consistent. You shouldn't experience any shifting tones, rising sounds, or musical changes.
It also covers a wide spectrum of audible frequencies, which further helps you to relax before bedtime. In addition to improving your sleep quality, white noise can help you concentrate when you're working on a task at hand.
If this noise sounds too harsh, you can opt for pink noise instead. Unlike white noise, pink noise combines softer low-frequency noise with louder high-frequency noise, resulting in a more even and less layered sound.
As the name suggests, green noise is a white noise frequency that reminds sleepers of nature more than any other frequency. Its more powerful mid-range frequencies mimic sounds found in nature, such as the ocean and streams.
Unlike green noise, white noise retains high frequencies, giving it a continuous hissing sound that resembles the static on TV sets and radios. By limiting these high tones, green noise sounds more relaxing than white noise.
So, if you often have a hard time sleeping in a noisy environment, you may get better rest when sleeping with green noise at night. In addition to helping improve sleep quality, green noise is beneficial to individuals with racing thoughts and anxiety. Its tone could give you something to focus your mind on in place of sad and unwanted thoughts.
Because of the way our ears work, we perceive pink noise as having a pleasant-sounding and balanced volume across different frequencies. Many people often consider pink noise more relaxing than white noise as it doesn't sound as high-pitched.
Pink noise has a more intense sound energy at lower frequencies, creating deeper and more ambient tones. This makes it more relaxing and soothing than other color noises.
This type of noise is prevalent in nature sounds, such as wind, rain, and ocean waves, and many segments of speech also contain elements of pink noise. Plus, urban noises like traffic are said to resemble this noise. Since pink noise is similar to many sounds in everyday life, many therapists use it as a tool to treat tinnitus and hearing disorders.
In order to benefit the most from pink noise for sleeping, a lab technician may have to match pink noise timing to your brain waves. However, with the growing interest in using sounds and music for sleep, sleep experts believe that devices that open up many new possibilities for using various color noises for sleep will soon be available.
Also known as red noise, brown noise produces a much deeper tone than white and pink noise. This deep, comforting sound is sure to filter out environmental noise and potentially ease the body for better quality sleep. By omitting high-frequency sounds and only producing low-frequency ones, brown noise is smoother and more manageable for most sleepers.
Some common examples of brown noise include steady rain, rumbling thunder, and leaves rustling on a tree.
While there's less research on the impact of brown noise on sleep, sleep experts have discovered some interesting connections between the two. For instance, a certain research suggests that brown noise can help support the smooth transition from non-REM sleep to REM sleep.
In another research, using brown noise has been shown to have positive effects on working memory, executive function, and comfort. Studies have also shown that this type of noise may help lower symptoms in patients with ringing in their ears.
Also referred to as high-frequency white noise, blue noise comes with a spectral density that's proportional to its frequency. Its power increases with an increase in frequency and it sounds slightly shriller than white and pink noise. Generally, it's the opposite of brown noise, as its energy goes up when the frequency does, meaning it trembles throughout the listening session and no bass. A good example of blue noise is the hissing sound you hear when you turn on a water spray.
Using Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) for Sleep
If you're uninitiated in ASMR, now's the perfect time to explore its impact on your sleep. Generally, ASMR refers to the deep relaxation scalp and neck tingling people feel while listening to quiet sounds like whispering.
Remember, ASMR doesn't work for everyone. However, for those who enjoy this unique type of auditory tickling, it could have a positive impact on sleep. Many people who experience this reaction describe it as very peaceful and relaxing, with a static sensation felt on the shoulders, back of the neck, and across the scalp.
Other common ASMR sounds include personal attention, slow movements, and crisp sounds. Remember, different people respond to these triggers differently, so your experience might greatly differ from that of another sleeper.
In one study, 53% of the participants experienced ASMR in response to slow movements, while 75% found that whispering stimulated the response. Crisp sounds and personal attention fell between the two, earning great responses from 64% and 69% of participants, respectively. Other reported triggers outside these categories include smiling, airplane noises, and repetitive movements. You can also trigger ASMR by having someone play with your hair or looking at someone working on a project that needs care and attention.
So, How Does ASMR Help You Sleep?
Autonomous sensory meridian response appears to activate brain regions associated with calming, sleep-inducing hormones, such as dopamine and oxytocin. This, in turn, promotes feelings of comfort, sleepiness, and relaxation.
What's more, using ASMR videos, playlists, and podcasts has been shown to block out background noise and soothe anxiety, helping sleepers catch a good night's sleep.
If you're already using ASMR to help you relax, it may be an ideal way to boost your sleep and help you stay asleep all night long. For those new to this, finding the perfect sound for your sleep needs could take some time. But once you do, it's take off to slumberland.
Best Relaxing Music to Listen to While Sleeping
While music can be loud and disruptive, the right songs can help you sleep peacefully. There's a wide range of relaxing rhythms for everyone. For a restorative and good night's sleep, you'll want to ease off from party beats that light up the brain and settle for relaxing music with slow rhythms.
More interested in music than a relaxing sound? Put on your PJs and grab your headphones. There are numerous relaxing songs to keep your ears happy throughout the night, and for many folks, instrumental music is a perfect way to fall asleep and listen to their favorite tracks.
Just as the name suggests, this type of music typically uses real instruments with no vocals. It's worth noting that not all instrument music is ideal for sleep. That said, opt for slow-paced instrumental songs that can help you relax without any distractions from lyrics and other types of vocals.
Sleep Music with Nature Sounds
From the sounds of crickets chirping at night to leaves dancing in the wind, nature can be very soothing. And as a nature lover, there's nothing like bringing the relaxing melodies of the outdoors to your sleep environment.
If you often have a hard time winding down for bed, listening to music with nature sounds can help induce relaxation. Numerous studies have shown that nature sounds can improve sleep quality by putting the nervous system into a more relaxed and restive mode.
Binaural Beats and Isochronic Tones
Binaural beats are basically a perception of sound that your brain creates. If you're listening to 2 different tones with different frequencies, each in a different ear, the brain creates an extra tone you can hear.
Various studies show that binaural beats can help improve sleep quality. For instance, in an experiment of young elite soccer players using binaural beats at a frequency of 2 Hz to 8 Hz, the players reported less sleepiness, better quality sleep, and an increased ease of waking up in the morning.
If you decide to use these beats to improve sleep, there are several binaural beat tracks readily available online. Plus, you can purchase CDs and audio files featuring binaural beats and isochronic tones. Most of these tracks usually have white noise and other gentle sounds that can help you relax. Make sure you choose tracks specially designed for sleep, typically beats and tones at theta and delta frequencies.
Healing Sleep Music
In addition to healing different aspects of physical, mental, and emotional health, sleep music with solfeggio frequencies has numerous healing benefits when listened to before sleep.
For instance, listening to 432 Hz music can slow down your heart rate and fill your mind with feelings of tranquility, quiet, and harmony. This makes it an ideal accompaniment for meditation, yoga, and sleep.
Plus, music tuned to 528 Hz reduces stress in the autonomic nervous systems and endocrine systems, making it perfect when you simply need to unwind or feel under the weather.
Chill Out and Ambient Music
Chill-out and ambient music can include a mix of different genres, such as jazz, blues, and pop music. Here, you want to pick a playlist that will create an ambient environment to keep you from overthinking or dwelling on any negative memories of the day. The only thing this music should make you do is glaze at your ceiling, contemplating a great night of relaxation and deep sleep.
Is it Better to Sleep with Noise or in Silence?
In a perfect world, everyone would have the option to sleep in a completely soundproof bedroom. Unfortunately, exposure to environmental noise is a nightly reality for most of us. While you might be able to limit noise exposure in your room at night by plugging your ears or insulating your windows, adding a consistent background noise can mask the sounds you can't control, thus helping counteract the negative effects of sound exposure during sleep.
In addition to moderating intermittent sound levels, music and soothing background noise help distract sleepers from anxious and intrusive thoughts at night, which helps prepare the mind for sleep.
Note that research studies have shown conflicting data about whether or not using background noise can improve sleep. In one study, researchers investigated the effects of adding background noise from an air conditioner and found that the noise didn't improve sleep quality.
However, another experiment on the effects of using white noise in rooms with hospitalized patients found a positive impact on sleep for three nights. Given the inconsistent data, the decision of whether or not to incorporate night sounds for sleeping might come down to personal preference. Plus, everyone sleeps differently, so there's no way to put noise as a sleep factor in a single box.
What to Consider Before Using Sounds and Music for Sleep
While sleep sounds are non-invasive, non-pharmacological interventions, they can cause harm if used inappropriately. If you've decided to add sleep sounds to your evening routine, you should make protecting your ear a top priority.
Many people suffer from tinnitus and hearing loss after long-term and brief exposure to loud noises. What's more, hearing loss can increase the risk of neurological disorders like dementia, depression, and even psychoses.
Fortunately, monitoring the decibels your ears get exposed to each night can ensure you're staying safe. Aside from keeping the noise down, you can also consider using continuous noise. Remember, changes in sound can disrupt sleep stages, even if you don't fully wake up, thus resulting in poorer sleep quality. Another perfect alternative could be using a sleep timer, especially if you only want to listen to music during the sleep initiation stage at the start of the night.
Tips for Using Sound to Fall Asleep
In addition to listening to relaxing sounds, making slight changes to your normal sleep routine can help you fall asleep faster. If you're having a hard time falling asleep, here's how you can benefit the most from using noise for sleep.
Set Up a Sleep Schedule
Setting up a sleep schedule can help you fall asleep faster.
Our bodies operate on a 24-hour regulatory system known as the circadian rhythm. As the internal clock, this system cues the body to feel alert at daytime and sleepy during the night.
Sleeping and waking up at the same time every day can help regulate the circadian rhythm. Once your system adjusts to this routine, it'll be much easier to fall asleep around the same time each day.
Experiment with Different Sounds
If a pre-made playlist isn't helping you fall asleep, try making another mix of relaxing songs that you find enjoyable. Although many people benefit the most from songs with slower tempos, others may find tranquility with more upbeat music. That said, feel free to experiment with different sounds and see what works best for you.
Be Careful with Headphones
Headphones can lead to ear damage, especially if used when the volume is too high. Earbuds may also cause damage to the ear, as they can lead to earwax buildup, increasing the risk of ear infection.
Instead of using headphones, you can set up a small stereo or sound machine somewhere close to where you sleep. Make sure you choose appliances without bright light and find a soothing volume that's not disruptive.
As you can see, noise can greatly undermine your sleep quality, but it doesn't have to. By setting bedtime rituals, being aware of various noise-disruptions to your environment and using the sounds mentioned above to guard your ears against unwanted noise, you can quickly drift off to slumberland and enjoy a better night's sleep.
However, if you're experiencing problems sleeping even after using melodies that promote relaxation and maintaining healthy sleep habits, consider seeking medical assistance from a sleep specialist. You might be suffering from an undiagnosed sleep disorder, which should be attended to in its own right.