A woman listens to relaxing sounds while she sleeps

You toss and turn at night, but a full evening of sleep eludes you. You’re tired of waking up after only a few hours’ sleep, so one of your friends recommends listening to some soft music or nature sounds. But does this actually work? If so, how?

Why are nature sounds so relaxing?

If you go into the app store on your phone, you can find any number of nature sound apps that are supposed to help you sleep. Natural sounds relax you because they are constant noises of a pleasant pitch. Your brain interprets them as non-threatening noises, which helps reduce your fight-or-flight response. This lowers your stress level and helps you become more relaxed for sleep. Nature sounds and other background noises also help mask sounds that might keep you awake, like traffic or someone moving around in the apartment above you.

Why does the sound of jet engines help me sleep?

Jet engines, trains, and other machines are far from natural, but their sounds work on your brain the same way nature sounds do. They’re non-threatening, steady noises that can mask other, disruptive background sounds.

Does listening to music help me sleep?

Music can help, but to a degree. Ideally, you want to listen to a slower song – around 60 to 80 beats per minute – like easy-listening jazz. It also helps if the song is familiar to you, because it will fade into the background better.

Should I play white noise for my baby?

Some people like to play white noise machines to help their babies sleep, but other people are concerned that they could be too loud. White noise machines are fine as long as the noise is lower than 60 decibels, they aren’t placed right near the crib, and you don’t run them constantly.

Why do alarms wake you up when other sounds don’t?

Alarm clocks, phones, or other noises that wake you up don’t have the consistent levels that nature sounds or white noise have. They are, instead, more abrupt. In other words, they go from quiet to loud to quiet to loud, while relaxing noises maintain a fairly steady noise level.

If you have trouble sleeping, pleasant, relaxing sounds can be a good addition to your bedtime regimen.

Robert Harley, MD

“If you avoid long naps during the day and alcohol, electronic devices, and exercises before bed, relaxing noises and a regular sleep schedule will do much to help you get a full night’s sleep,” CEENTA ENT Doctor and Sleep Specialist Robert Harley, MD, said.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Harley practices in our SouthPark office. To make an appointment with him or any of CEENTA’s ENT doctors or sleep specialists, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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