Sleep and Sound

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation.

Here’s the thing about sleep and sound: While the wrong noises (like your neighbor’s yapping dog or your partner’s snoring) will keep you up at night, other sounds (such as crashing waves or the hum of an air conditioner) can lull you into dreamland. And certain sounds—including falling rain—can actually improve the quality of your slumber. Read on for the three best noises that'll lead to sounder sleep (pun intended).

White Noise

This sound combines all noise frequencies to create a steady background hum that drowns out other sounds that can keep you up. It also may help treat insomnia. But because it could lead to hearing problems, skip the headphones when listening to white noise and instead use the whir of a fan or a white noise machine to help you nod off.

Pink Noise

Yes, there is such a thing! Sounds with a consistent frequency are known as pink noise, and they’ve been found to improve sleep quality by slowing and regulating brain waves, so that you wake up feeling more well rested. Natural sounds like falling rain and the sounds of the wind or ocean are in the pink noise category. If you’re not by the sea or if it’s not stormy in your area, a sound machine can imitate these soothing, natural noises.

Music

Relaxing tunes—like classical music—may help you wind down and fall asleep faster (but skip songs that have words, because those may actually stimulate you). Bonus: Listening to music while you sleep may improve memory and brainpower.

Of course, some people sleep best in absolute silence (there’s a reason why so many people use earplugs!). But if a quiet room isn’t helping you at night, investing in a sound machine or simply turning on a fan could be the ticket to a good night’s

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