Best Sleep Sounds for Anxiety
Nature sounds to reduce anxiety and promote sleep
Finding the best sleep sounds to improve anxiety can be challenging. Here, we have created a playlist of nature sounds we hope will help reduce anxiety and promote sleep. We have also answered some of the frequently asked questions about the connection between sounds, sleep, and anxiety.
Chromatic Rain in the Namib Desert
|Desert & arid
Tiny Little River
Dreams of Bears
Soundscape with The European Pied Flycatcher And Cuckoos
|Grasslands, tundra and heath
South Platte River and Country
Gentle Waves on Lake Superior at Crisp Point Lighthouse
FAQs about the best sleep sounds for anxiety
- What are the best sleep sounds for anxiety?
- Can falling asleep to music and sound help with anxiety?
- Why is anxiety so bad at night?
- What sounds trigger anxiety?
What are the best sleep sounds for anxiety?
Some people search for ‘the best sounds for sleep’ because they experience anxiety. Several studies and clinical trials have concluded that sound-based treatments are effective in reducing somatic and cognitive state anxiety.
The following are commonly cited as some of the best sleep sounds for calming anxiety:
- White noise, such as a vacuum cleaner, an air conditioner, or the static sounds of TV or radio
- Pink noise, like the soothing sounds of rain, sea waves, or wind
- Brown noise, like heavy rain, thunder, strong wind, or waterfalls
- Nature sounds, from ocean sounds to woodland sounds like wildlife, birdsong, or wind blowing through trees
- Relaxing music, mainly songs of around 60 to 80 beats per minute (BPM)
- Meditation sounds, either in the form of simple meditative sounds or guided sessions
For some, binaural beats and ASMR are also helpful for falling asleep, but these sound types have been studied even less than those mentioned above (with white and pink noise leading the way); research is still establishing the effects of sounds on our body and mind.
While we suggest that you use reputable research findings to guide your choices, trial and error will ultimately establish which sleep sounds are the most beneficial for your anxiety.
Can falling asleep to music and sounds help with anxiety?
As mentioned above, the most relaxing melodies are around 60 to 80 beats per minute. Because adults’ normal resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, the mind is able to synchronize with this BPM.
When your mind is synchronized with the beat, your brain generates alpha brain waves, which are also produced when you’re relaxed, calm, or focused on something. Consequently, the right sounds can, hypothetically, help you relax and fall asleep more quickly.
In fact, classical music has been proven to be a good intervention option for reducing sleep problems. Many other studies also suggest that music can reduce anxiety and promote positive mood, while singing can not only improve mood state but modulate components of the immune system.
Studies also suggest that certain types of music are beneficial for sleep because they can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which otherwise leads to increased alertness and therefore poor sleep.
According to a South Korean study, natural sounds have also been mooted as an effective way to relieve stress in everyday life. It found that, “When participants heard nature sounds, they felt comfortable, relaxed, and natural, and the negative mood state was lower, while the positive mood state was higher than [when participants heard] urban sound.”
Listen to earth.fm’s ‘Best Nature Sounds for Sleep’ playlist! 🌳 🎧
Although further research is needed, existing studies suggest that certain sounds and music can be a great aid for fighting anxiety and getting better sleep.
Why is anxiety so bad at night?
Because anxiety and sleeping may clash during the night, it could be helpful to deploy relaxing methods to calm your body and mind during this period.
Anxiety can be worse during the night because the daytime provides many distractions, while at night there is less escape from troubling thoughts.
Naturally, the more anxious thoughts you have at night, the more trouble you’ll have falling asleep — or falling back to sleep if you wake up during the night, which there’s a significant chance you will.
Studies showed that levels of the before-mentioned stress hormone cortisol, begin to increase between 2 and 3 am, peaking at 8:30 am. Nothing good happens after 2 am, they say, and it definitely won’t if you’re suffering from anxiety.
What sounds trigger anxiety?
Now that we have discussed how sounds can help your anxiety and improve your sleep, let’s look at the other side of the coin: sounds that may trigger anxiety and which are best avoided.
A 2021 study created a list of sounds that can trigger anxiety. Called misophonic sounds, these can cause moderate to high distress; they might not affect most people, but could trigger those experiencing anxiety:
- A fly or mosquito buzzing
- Eating, chewing, and lip-smacking
- Slurping when drinking (or eating soup)
- Sucking of teeth
- Water dripping
- Cutlery scratching crockery
- An infant crying
- Floors, doors, or fabric squeaking
- Music or television heard through a wall
- Hesitant exclamations like ‘um’, ‘uh’, and ‘er’
More than half of these sounds can occur during the night. Some, like a dripping tap or a squeaky floor, can be prevented in advance—so try to soundproof your home as much as you choose.
An unexpected mosquito, your partner sucking their teeth, or the volume of the neighbors’ TV will require more work, to say nothing of soothing a crying baby.
In any case, try to figure out what calms you down if you have trouble falling asleep or are prone to waking up in the night.
As discussed above, scientific research can be helpful when searching for the right method, but you’ll be the best judge of what sounds are beneficial to you (as well as other tips, from reducing screen time before bed to finding the perfect mattress).
This content is for general information purposes only and is not intended as medical or other professional advice.
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