If you regularly struggle with insomnia, make sure you’re aware of these easy fixes. And if you’re trying to sleep in a loud environment, white noise might help you nod off more easily. A mixture of all sound frequencies at once, at the same level of intensity, white noise does a good job of masking other noises that can disrupt your sleep. Like a whirring fan or the hum of an air conditioner, white noise provides an even, steady stream of sound. In a study published in the journal Sleep Medicine, researchers at Brown University Medical School reported patients in a hospital intensive care unit awakened less frequently during the night with white noise present, because it decreased the difference between background noise and the “peak” noises that punctuated the hospital’s noise environment.
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It’s no surprise that ocean waves are a popular choice for soothing sleep sounds. For many people, the rhythmic crashing of water onto sand and rock can be meditative—and meditation carries some surprising health benefits. By creating a mental state of relaxation, contentment, and gentle focus, the wave sound can be deeply relaxing. In an interview with LiveScience, Dr. Orfeu Buxton, an associate professor of behavioral health at Penn State University, described how the sound of the ocean can promote sleep. “These slow, whooshing noises are the sounds of non-threats, which is why they work to calm people, “Buxton explained. “It’s like they’re saying: ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry.'”