Mind and Body

Six scientifically-backed sounds for better sleep

Is white noise all it’s cracked up to be?



Getting good shut-eye is often easier said than done, especially if you live in a noisy area or suffer from insomnia.

Environmental disruptions during bedtime, regardless of their source, can in turn cause sleep disruptions.

And getting low-quality sleep where you’re woken up repeatedly is linked to negative effects on the body over time, including risk of heart disease and stroke.


Luckily, some noises are shown to relax the body and can aid in drifting you off to sleep when you need it most.


Here are the six best sounds for falling sleep, according to science:


In general, nature sounds — waterfalls, birdsong, or rain — are linked to better sleep.

Reports show that these kinds of noises can relax the body and reduce anxiety.

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The sound of a waterfall or a river flowing is repetitive and steady; a noise we’d tune out while awake.

But when it comes to bedtime, it can help relax the body because we perceive it as a non-threatening sound — meaning we let our guard down when we hear it.

4. Forest ambiance
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If you want more than just water, a concert of forest noises may be the relaxer you need.

One 2015 report confirmed that forest ambiance does have a positive effect on inducing sleep.


Several studies have shown that listening to relaxing music before bed can improve overall sleep quality.

But note that the type of music matters — if it’s too catchy, you might get stuck with an earworm that keeps you up at night.

2. White Noise
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For many people, white noise is an effective tool to tune out disruptive noises and get to sleep. Some research exists to back up that experience, but other reports say it can damage hearing or negatively impact sleep.

Bottom line: more data is needed to understand its effects.

1. Pink Noise
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If white noise doesn’t work for you, a slightly different ambient sound called pink noise might be effective.

However, like white noise, researchers still lack hard data to understand its effectiveness — or lack thereof.

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