Throughout the night your brain continues to register and process sounds on a very basic level. Loud noises can cause you to wake up, move or shift between sleeping stages and experience a change in heart rate and blood pressure (but it’s very brief and you will not remember it in the morning).
Determining if sounds disturb your sleep depends on the specific sleeping stage you’re in and what your personal feelings are towards the sounds. Typically during the 1st and 2nd stages of sleep you will be able to be woken up fairly easily from the light sleep stages. In comparison if you are in the 3rd – 5th stages of sleep these sounds will not disrupt your sleep as easy. We get used to certain sounds around us, for example if you share a bed with someone you will get used to the sounds they make when the are sleeping (including snoring). Those who are “Sound Sleepers” have characteristic brain activity that may make than more impervious to noise.
Referring back to the point we just made regarding your personal feelings towards sounds. It’s interesting that a person is likely to wake when a sound is directly relevant to them. A great example would be, a mother could sleep with the television left on at average volume but will wake up immediately when her baby makes the slightest noise.
If you are using a device such as a radio, we would advise that you use a timer to automatically turn off the music. This allows your body to gently fall into the first few stages of your sleeping cycle, without disrupting your REM sleep.
Listening to nature sounds such as Ocean waves, animals and thunderstorms can be extremely pleasant aid to help you fall asleep. There are several reasons for this, sounds that we hear in our day to day environment are typically less likely to annoy us as they vary in frequency. These sounds are also typically very repetitive and peaceful (unless you live in a city that is), many people use nature sounds when doing yoga or meditation. But remember that if you’re using any water based sounds such as rain or sounds of the waves, could trigger the urge to use the lavatory!
Sometimes there is nothing quite as relaxing as hearing someone speak, it could be an audio book, a podcast, a partner or even a radio talk show. They do not have to be talking about anything specific, it can be random. But these sounds of a calm conversation can smooth your mind and create the feeling of a secure environment. There are many different applications available that are available, we would recommend Pzizz.
Pzizz lulls listeners to sleep with soothing voices.
White noise is a combination of a variety of different frequencies and can help to mask out other sounds in your environment. The sound is very easy to focus on, which helps you mind to go into a slight daze due to the sounds repetitiveness nature. White noise is also used to treat symptoms such as insomnia. Please be cautious when using white noise apps that can cause auditory nerve damage, Montgomery-Downs warns, especially for those who use headphones or have sensitive hearing. If you have any concerns regarding using white noise, we would advise that you speak with your GP beforehand.
The reason that Vacuum cleaners aid us to get to sleep is very similar to white noise, the repetitive sounds with a varied frequency, which helps to block out intrusive sounds in the background.
Listening to music is a great way to relax, we would advise staying away from music with lyrics as it could keep your mind active. Remember, you need something soothing to start the initial process of falling asleep. During the first few stages of sleep, your body is extremely sensitive to your surroundings. Therefore listening to music such as classical or acoustic at a lower level is perfect, as this allows you to focus on that specific sound source without it being too loud that it’ll keep you awake or too quiet that it won’t help to mask the sounds within your environment.
Using a variety of different sounds over the course of a week, will allow you to better understand which sounds work best for you. Everyone is different, but using these sounds do help to create a ‘security bubble’, allowing you to relax and feel calm.
If you’re looking for some more sleeping tips, check out some of our other blogs. Alternatively, feel free to get in contact if you have any ideas that you would like to share or if you should have any questions.
Please note that if you are having any serious issues with regards to sleeping, we would advise that you speak with your GP for further advise, sometimes it could be making small changes to your day-to-day route to help you get the best night sleep possible.