Last updated: April 1, 2017
To get a full night of sleep, you need to be able to relax when it’s time to go to bed. Certain sounds can help immensely with relaxation. Although different people find different sounds to be relaxing, there are certain sounds that are almost universally helpful for calming the body and mind, therefore preparing your body to fall asleep.
The best sounds to sleep to are ambient, repetitive, and soothing. Playing soothing sounds as you try to fall asleep is especially helpful if you live in a noisy environment because it will mask the distracting noises outside and help your body become calm enough for rest.
We've gathered a few of the most helpful sounds for falling asleep below.
Some people are sensitive to noise while they’re trying to fall asleep. This can especially be a problem if you live in an environment with a lot of sudden distinct sounds, like traffic noises or trains passing by.
White noise can be helpful for this problem. Contrary to its name, white noise doesn’t sound much like noise at all; instead, it’s designed to be hardly detectable. It can be helpful for those with difficulty sleeping because it is the closest you can come to recreating actual silence. As such, it is one of the most relaxing sounds for sleep.
White noise combines all noise frequencies into one ambient sound. At the proper volume, it masks other sounds and has a soothing effect on the brain. White noise works best if you use an external white noise machine or an app on your computer. That way, the white noise is able to fill the entire room evenly and mask all sounds.
Scientific studies have found that certain types of music can help people fall asleep faster. For instance, Sleep Medicine published a study which found that music helped people who suffered from sleep difficulties; they fell asleep faster than people who did not listen to music.
Playing relaxing music to sleep is helpful for a few reasons. Music with a calm, consistent melody helps your brain to focus on the music, rather than busying itself with other thoughts that will keep you awake. This allows your mind to fully relax.
Second, if you use the same relaxing music to fall asleep regularly, you will find that simply hearing the music becomes a cue for your brain to start going into sleep mode. Practicing the same routine every night will help you fall asleep even more quickly and calmly.
The music should be calm, repetitive, and consistent. It also helps if the music is something that you can listen to in the background without paying much attention to it.
The Most Relaxing Song
Sound therapists recently rated ten of the most relaxing songs. They chose the song “Weightless” by Marconi Union as the most relaxing song. This song has several elements that make it ideal for falling asleep; its rhythm is an ideal tempo for synchronizing with your heartbeat and brainwaves, and its harmony and melody allow your brain to fully turn off and go into a state of comfort and joy.
The songs from this study are perhaps the only songs that are actually scientifically proven to help you fall asleep.
Nature Sounds to Sleep To
If you’ve ever relaxed by the beach and fallen asleep by accident, then you understand just how relaxing nature sounds can be. Ocean sounds are one of the most popular nature sounds for sleep because they’re calming and rhythmic while also becoming almost unnoticeable over time. They remind many people of vacation and a totally stress-free state of mind, and simply hearing those sounds is enough to bring you back into that state.
Thunderstorms are another common choice of nature sounds for sleep. Some apps or websites will simply play the sound of rainfall, wind, and slight thunder all of which can be very calming for some people. You can even choose between what type of rain you’d like to hear. From a torrential downpour to a light drizzle on concrete, you can find the exact noise that soothes you. Other sources might play a full rainforest soundtrack.
The most relaxing nature sounds are repetitive and calming while also including enough variety to not become boring or irritating. Nature sounds for sleep can work very well to help ease the brain into a restful state. They imitate natural background noises that we hear all the time, so they blend seamlessly into the rest of our auditory environment.
There are a variety of other nature sounds to sleep to, such as birdsongs or other animal sounds.
A large part of choosing the most relaxing sounds for sleep is dependent on the individual. Our minds associate certain sounds with certain emotions and physical sensations, so playing the sounds with the happiest and most calming connotations will always work best to help us fall asleep.
One of the best sounds to sleep to can simply be the voice of a loved one. This recreates the experience of being lovingly put to bed by a caregiver or loved one. The positive connotations of a close friend’s voice can lull your brain into a calm state.
There are also apps and soundtracks that record soothing voices, often speaking about topics that require no mental engagement. For some, these are the most relaxing sounds to sleep to.
When you block out your vision, your other senses get a bit of a boost. We recommend trying out a sleep mask so your hearing improves and you're able to relax, which will naturally help you get a more peaceful sleep.