Last Updated 12/9/2023
Need inspiration & feeling overwhelmed with which sounds to listen to now you have sleep headphones? Which are the best sounds to help you drift off to sleep?
With an abundance of choices from music to sleep-inducing sounds, and even podcasts, it can be quite challenging to find the perfect option to soothe you into slumber. In this guide, we are going to review our favourite selections and apps that offer the best variety of calming tunes. Importantly, we are not biased in our recommendations as we are not being sponsored for this post; these are our opinions only. Hopefully, this will give you some inspiration to get started on your peaceful journey to restful nights.
Natural Sounds - Do they really work?
Listening to natural sounds like ocean waves, rainfall, or forest sounds can be soothing for sleep due to various psychological and physiological reasons. Scientists have explored this phenomenon, and here's what they have found:
Familiarity with Nature: Humans have evolved with natural sounds, so these sounds may trigger a sense of safety and relaxation. Unlike abrupt or artificial noises, natural sounds often have a predictable pattern that the brain finds non-threatening.
Masking Unwanted Noise: Natural sounds can mask other disturbing or jarring noises in the environment, creating a calming ambiance. This can be particularly beneficial for people living in urban environments where traffic and other human-made noises can be disruptive. Also some are known to be light sleepers and the slightest sounds can wake them up.
Activation of Parasympathetic Nervous System: Some studies suggest that listening to calming natural sounds can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body to relax and prepare for sleep. This reduces stress hormones and lowers heart rate and blood pressure.
Enhanced Sleep Quality: Research has shown that natural sounds can improve the quality of sleep by extending the duration of the deep sleep stages. This leads to more restorative sleep, which is essential for physical and mental well-being.
Cognitive Distraction: Natural sounds may act as a cognitive distraction, steering the mind away from stressful thoughts or anxiety that may prevent relaxation. By focusing on calming sounds, individuals can enter a meditative state that promotes sleep readiness.
Individual Preferences and Associations: People's individual associations and preferences play a role as well. Some may have positive memories or emotions connected to specific natural sounds, enhancing their calming effects.
It's essential to note that the effectiveness of natural sounds on your sleep quality may vary from person to person. Some individuals may find certain sounds soothing, while others may not experience the same effect. Moreover, the quality and type of sound, as well as the volume at which it's played, can influence its effectiveness.
Here are some common sleep sounds you can you try with your new sleep headphones:
The rhythmic pattern of raindrops can have a calming effect on the mind, masking background noises and promoting relaxation. A more consistent of all the nature sounds steady rain fall is also very grounding.
Ocean Sound Waves
The gentle crashing of waves can be hypnotic, creating a calming ambiance that aids in sleep. A popular option for people who are based in cities and potentially don't get to experience the calming of the ocean.
Birds chirping, leaves rustling, and gentle wind sounds from the forest can create a serene environment, making them another excellent choice for sleep.
Classic White Noise
White noise is a consistent sound that drowns out other disruptive noises, making it a preferred choice for many sleepers. Due to the sound consistency its said to be less likely to wake you up and is often a common choice for babies and young children although we recommend using a white noise machines for children and not sleep headphones built into a sleep mask for safety reasons.
Some people prefer listening to classical music to fall asleep because of its structured yet soothing nature. Unlike other genres that may contain sudden shifts or loud beats, classical music often follows harmonious patterns and gentle rhythms that can induce relaxation. Many classical compositions contain soft instruments like strings or piano, creating a peaceful ambiance conducive to sleep.
Which Apps Are Good For Sleep?
Now diving into the world of sleep-focused apps, there are several designed specifically to aid in relaxation and promote restful sleep. While some of these apps do charge a fee, we've handpicked the most popular ones that we like the best. From gentle nature sounds to guided meditations, these apps offer a variety of options tailored to individual sleep needs.
- Benefits: Calm offers guided meditations, Sleep Stories, breathing programs, stretching exercises, and soothing music. The sleep stories are generally around 50 minutes long and your phone will turn off after the story is finished playing.
- Availability: Widely available in Australia and they often have cameos from well known figures
- Benefits: Headspace provides sleep sounds, bedtime exercises, and sleepcasts to guide you into a restful night. The app offers a personalised experience based on your sleep needs.
- Availability: Headspace is accessible to Australians and offers specific content tailored to various sleep troubles.
- Benefits: MySleepButton employs Cognitive Shuffle technique to help quiet your mind, making it easier to drift off to sleep.
- Availability: Accessible in Australia, this app is perfect for those who have a racing mind at bedtime.
4. Better Sleep
- Benefits: With an extensive library of sounds, music, and guided meditation, Better Sleep can be customised to create the perfect environment for sleep. They also have a selection of Binaural Beats (see below if you are not yet sure what that is)
- Availability: Available in Australia, it's a versatile app for all sleep needs.
- Benefits: The Sona Sleep App aims to improve sleep quality by offering features like sleep tracking, guided meditation, and deep sleep-promoting sounds. It offers real-time analysis and personalized recommendations to help you achieve optimal rest.
- Availability: Available in Australia.
Which Podcasts Are Good For Sleep?
Podcasts designed to promote deep sleep are often crafted with soothing voices, calming music, or tranquil soundscapes. Here's a list of some popular podcasts known to help with sleep, but it's essential to note that individual preferences may vary. Finding the right podcast for sleep can be a personal journey:
Sleep With Me: This podcast features dull and droning bedtime stories to help distract the mind and encourage relaxation.
Calm Collective: Calm Collective offers calming meditations and ambient sounds designed to aid in relaxation and sleep.
Meditative Story: Combines first-person stories with soothing music and meditation prompts to create a calming experience.
Deep Sleep Sounds: Features a variety of natural sounds and white noise to create a calming environment conducive to sleep.
Nothing much happens; bedtime stories for grown-ups: Simple and soothing stories are told and then retold more slowly to help guide listeners into sleep.
Sleepy: A podcast where classic books are read in a soft and soothing manner, aiming to lull listeners to sleep.
Daily Meditation Podcast: Offers daily meditations that can help in relaxing the mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep.
Tales to Take You Away: This podcast features gentle storytelling with a calming narrator's voice, perfect for unwinding at the end of the day.
The Sleepy Time Podcast: A podcast with calming discussions on various non-stimulating subjects, spoken in a soft, soothing voice.
Guided Sleep Meditations: Offers guided meditations specifically crafted to help listeners fall asleep.
Where Else Can I find Sounds For Sleep?
Each of the below platforms provide vast libraries of content that can cater to different preferences and needs. By exploring them, individuals can find the perfect sounds to create a tranquil ambiance that encourage relaxation and could helps you fall asleep.
YouTube: YouTube offers a vast array of channels dedicated to sleep sounds, from white noise to calming nature sounds and relaxing music. Many creators provide extended-length videos, sometimes even live streams, specifically designed to aid in relaxation and sleep. You can explore various channels, find what works best for you, and even create your playlists with your favorite calming sounds.
Spotify: Spotify has numerous playlists and albums tailored for restful sleep, including soft music, ambient sounds, guided meditations, and more. The platform's user-friendly interface allows you to browse through different categories and find sleep-related content easily. You can customise your playlists, follow artists who specialise in relaxing sounds, and enjoy seamless streaming to create a calming sleep environment.
Apple Music: Apple Music offers a curated selection of sleep playlists, soothing albums, and ambient soundscapes. The platform features content from well-known artists, wellness experts, and sound therapists, providing a wide range of options to suit individual preferences. With its integration into the Apple ecosystem, Apple Music can be a convenient option for iOS users looking for high-quality sleep sounds.
Have You Heard About Binaural Beats?
Binaural beats are a form of auditory illusion that can be perceived when two different pure-tone sine waves are presented to a listener's ears separately through stereo headphones. These two tones must have frequencies that are less than 1500 Hz, with a difference between the frequencies of less than 40 Hz.
Here's how it works:
- If one ear hears a 300 Hz sound and the other hears a 310 Hz sound, your brain detects the 10 Hz difference between the two frequencies.
- The brain then tries to reconcile that difference, and in doing so, creates a third tone of 10 Hz.
- You can then "hear" this 10 Hz beat, though neither ear is actually perceiving it directly.
Binaural beats are often used in various relaxation techniques and have become popular in alternative therapies for stress, focus, and sleep-related issues. They are used to induce states of relaxation, concentration, or even sleep, by synchronising brain wave activity to the frequency of the binaural beat.
Research on the effectiveness of binaural beats is mixed, with some studies suggesting they can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality, while others find little to no effect. Read more about it from the experts. Could be worth a try to see how it works for you and if you feel that its de-stressed you more than traditional sleep sounds, the Better Sleep App has some selections to try.
How Do You Listen To Music In Bed?
The best and most comfortable solution is by using sleep headphones. Unlike regular headphones, sleep headphones are designed to provide a comfortable listening experience even when you're lying down.
Whether you prefer sleek headbands or an eye mask with built in ultra thin speakers, these headphones are created to accommodate individual sleep needs. They deliver soothing sounds without the discomfort of traditional earbuds or over-ear headphones, allowing you to drift off with ease.
Below, review the different headphones for sleeping that Sleep Dreams provide. The range suit various preferences and requirements, making your bedtime listening experience all the more pleasant and unique to you.