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Can’t Sleep? The Natural World Can Help

20 July 2022

Deep restorative sleep is critical for good health. The amount and quality of your sleep can impact many aspects of your health, from blood pressure to mental health. But drifting off to sleep is not always easy in this world of over-stimulation and stress.
The sounds of nature have a proven ability to help us relax. Many relaxation and mental health apps offer beautiful natural soundscapes to help you sleep.
Why do the sounds of nature help sleep?
Being out in nature is great for reducing stress and slowing down racing thoughts. Listening to the wind whistle through the trees, hearing a bird sing or enjoying the steady rush of the waves can make us feel calm.
The connection between nature and stress reduction has been proven by many scientific studies. Nature can boost your mood - and improved mental health often translates into better sleep.
And just like walking through a forest or sitting on a quiet beach, listening to the sounds of nature can encourage a relaxed mindframe and aid sleep.

Simply listening to the sounds of nature has proven to lower blood pressure and heart rate, calm the mind and reduce the signs of stress. Natural soundscapes reduce our fight-or-flight instincts and allow the mind and body to rest fully.

Natural vs Artificial Sounds

Flicking through the numerous soundscape options on mental health and sleep SOS app Headspace, you might wonder whether natural or artificial sounds are best for good sleep.

Studies have shown that listening to the sounds of nature helps to turn your thoughts outwards, away from internal stresses, and actually reduces the physical signs of stress. On the other hand, artificial sounds were shown to encourage your thoughts to turn inwards, to worries and stresses that will hinder your sleep.

What are the best types of natural soundscapes to help sleep?

There are so many natural soundscapes available online that all the options might seem overwhelming. Trial a different soundscape each night to find the natural sounds that best help you drift off and enjoy a deep sleep.

Some of the best free relaxing natural soundscapes include:

#1 BetterSleep’s Eight-Hour Treehouse Rainstorm

This 8-hour rainstorm soundscape is perfect for a full and peaceful night’s sleep. Picture sleeping in a cosy treehouse on a warm and rainy evening as you listen to the soft rain hitting the roof, the wind in the trees and the gentle crackling of a fire.

#2 Calm’s 8-Hour Sunset Beach

Imagine sitting on an isolated beach at sunset as you enjoy 8 hours of waves rushing over the sand. Visualise a gentle wind rushing over your skin and the last of the sunshine warming your face as you drift off into a peaceful sleep.

#3 Calm’s 8-Hour Rainstorm White Noise

The sounds of the rain and the wind are the original white noises. Listen to 8 hours of calming rainfall with this Rainstorm White Noise soundscape and watch your worries drift away.

#4 Headspace’s 45-Minute Singing Pines

This Headspace soundscape provides a beautiful mixture of winds flowing through trees and a soft guitar melody. Listen to the sounds of the forest as you get into bed to create a calming atmosphere.

#5 Headspace’s 45-Minute Foothill Falls

If you love the sound of water flowing over rocks, this soundscape is for you. The 45 minutes of gently cascading waters and the hypnotising pitter-patter of water on stone will help to relax your mind and drift off to sleep.

When is the best time to listen to a natural soundscape?

To prepare you for sleep

Establishing a pre-sleep routine is a great way to improve the quality of your sleep and help you fall asleep easily. As you get ready for bed, unwind by listening to the sounds of rainfall or the whistling of the wind.

To help you fall asleep

Turn down the lights and get comfortable in bed. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of a trickling waterfall or the gentle swoosh of a light breeze through the trees.

Whenever your mind wanders, visualise walking through the landscape - how does warm sunlight feel on your face? What would the waves of the ocean feel like on your toes? How does the pine forest smell?

To help you get back to sleep

Don’t berate yourself when you wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to get back to sleep. Simply select a calming natural soundscape, find a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take in the sounds of nature and soon enough you will fall back to sleep.

To help calm your mind

Soundscapes are not just for bedtime. Natural soundscapes are a great alternative to traditional meditation.

Let the relaxing sounds of nature calm your mind before an important interview or on your commute to work. Unwind after a busy day by enjoying a soothing warm drink and immersing yourself in the sounds of a peaceful forest or tranquil beach.