Can Sounds Help You Sleep?

It might seem counterintuitive to use sounds to fall asleep if you have insomnia. It is no secret that a noisy environment decreases the quality of your sleep, so how could more sound be helpful?

Do you know the expression "fighting fire with fire?" Well, in this case, you fight sounds with sounds. By picking the right kind of background noise, you can reduce other sounds like traffic, your roommate watching a movie, or your upstairs neighbor running with their high heels. In other words, you use sounds that promote sleep to distract you from disturbing noises that have the opposite effect.

Read ahead to learn about different sounds and how they can help you sleep better. We will also discuss using technology, like smartphone applications and white noise machines, to help you fight insomnia.

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Noises and How They Can Help You Sleep Better

More and more researchers investigate the use of sounds, like white and pink noises, to promote better sleep. These sounds could help your brain relax by blocking out other disturbing sounds, like the barking of a dog.

Pink Noise

How can a sound be pink? Noises are not colored, but we name them based on the amount of energy they emit and how this energy is distributed over different frequencies. Pink noise is composed of different frequencies that the human ear can all hear. However, pink noise's energy is not distributed equally across all these frequencies. Instead, there is more energy in the lower frequencies, which gives it its deep sound. Pink noise sounds flat and even, and some examples include rain, wind, and rustling leaves.

As mentioned above, pink noise helps you achieve deep sleep by distracting you from other sounds. In 2017, a study by the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience concluded that there was an association between pink noise and deep sleep. Since pink noise helps achieve more restorative sleep, it also improves memory, especially in older adults, and decreases morning grogginess.

White Noise

Like pink noise, white noise is only composed of frequencies that humans can hear. However, unlike pink noise, the energy is distributed equally across all frequencies. This results in a "shhh" sound that resembles radio static.

White noise helps you sleep better by protecting your brain against sudden changes in sound intensity. When someone in the next room slams the door, you wake up, but not necessarily because you heard a loud noise. You wake up because your brain went from hearing silence to one loud, quick sound. White noise prevents your brain from being bothered by these sudden changes in sounds and helps you stay asleep even when there is noise around you.

A recent study in 2021 investigated the effect of white noise on individuals who struggle to fall asleep because of loud environmental noises. They found that white noise significantly improved the quality of their sleep. They concluded that people living in big and loud cities who struggled to sleep could benefit from white noise to sleep better.

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Using Technology to Sleep Better

Although experts usually recommend staying away from electronics close to bedtime, they can actually be helpful in some circumstances. Some inventive people used what we know about sounds and their ability to help you sleep and created machines or applications to help people have a good night's sleep.

Sleeping Sound Applications

If you are one of those people who cannot sleep without their phones, sleeping applications might be the perfect solution for you. There are many, many sleeping applications on the market. They can play relaxing sounds, track your sleeping patterns, or tell you a bedtime story. It is up to you to try different ones to find what helps you the most.

Here are a few sleeping applications that you might find helpful:

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1) BetterSleep

This application might be your go-to if you are a parent, as it can be helpful to both adults and children. It can play various sounds that promote sleep, like nature sounds and white noise. Your little ones will love it too because it narrates bedtimes stories written specifically to help them fall and stay asleep.

The app also offers a SleepMoves program to help you relax before bed with soft sounds and guided breathing.

If you are curious, you can try the app for free for seven days. After that, the annual subscription fee is $60. The app is compatible with iOs, Android, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

2) Pzizz

Pzizz uses dreamscape sounds, which combine music, voiceovers, and sound effects in a way that is designed to help you sleep better. They also offer different playlists, depending on whether you want to sleep for the night, nap, or focus on some work.

One of the nice app's features is that it works even when offline. You can then use it even when traveling or without access to WiFi.

The app is supported both by iOs and Android.

3) Calm

"Calm" is one of the most popular sleeping applications, but it can also be used for meditation, mindfulness, and guided breathing. They have a variety of sounds and stories to help you sleep. They even have celebrities with soothing voices, like Mattew McConaughey, read some stories.

Just like SleepBetter, it can be used for the whole family as some of their bedside stories are for children.

The app is also available on both iOs and Android. They have some free features, but you have to purchase the premium version to access all of them. The premium subscription is $89.99 per year, but you can try it for free for seven days before investing in the app.

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Sleep Meditation Apps 

Sleep meditation is another tool you can use to increase the quality of your sleep. When done correctly, meditation can slow down the heart rate and the breathing rate. These two factors can increase the chances of you getting a good night's sleep.

Meditation is not always easy and does not come naturally to everyone. Guided meditation can be helpful for those unfamiliar with meditation's principles and can help perfect your technique for better relaxation.

Some good sleeping meditation applications include:

1) Insight Timer

This app provides guided meditation of all types, but you have the option to search by topic to find the ones targeting sleep. Various teachers are leading the sessions, including mindfulness experts and psychologists.

If you easily get bored, this app might be for you since they add new guided meditations every day.

The app is available on iOs and Android and is free. However, you have to subscribe to follow their meditation courses or listen to the app when offline. 

2) Headspace

This app offers all types of guided meditations, but they have a sleep section that includes sounds and exercises to prepare for sleep. They also have tracks designed to make you fall asleep again if you wake up in the middle of the night.

The app is available on Apple and Google Play stores. They have some free content, but they require a subscription to access all the app's features. You can buy a monthly or yearly subscription, but the price depends on the country where you live.

Calm and Pzizz, mentioned above, also have meditation features to help with sleep.

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White Noise Machines

White noise machines might be the way to go if you want to avoid having your phone by your side but still want the benefit of sleep noises. Depending on your needs, there are a few factors to consider before purchasing the machine.

First, you might want to shop for different sizes. White noise machines are never big, but if you are an avid traveler, you might want to buy one small enough to pack with you. You might also want your machine to offer some features like a timer. You can program some of them to stop after a specific amount of time if you do not want it to go all night. On the other hand, if you want it on all night, you should buy one with a looping feature. Looping machines play sound continuously while others stop once the white noise recording is done. Finally, some machines have a built-in alarm, which can be helpful if you do not want to use your phone as an alarm clock.


Final Thoughts

Struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep can take a toll on your life. Sleep deprivation is harmful to your mental and physical health, and it should be addressed sooner rather than later. Using guided meditation or sounds could be the right solution for you. There are many smartphone applications designed to help you fix sleeping issues. If you want to avoid electronics and prefer to use a machine instead, you can check out our Kyle & Bryce Sleep Therapy Sound Machine. It can play a total of eighteen sounds, including white noise, ocean waves, birds, and thunderstorms, to help you get the best sleep!