The Therapeutic Nature of Sound

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Something that my clients mention to me regularly is how much they love the noise-machines that we use in our offices.  The ones we use are made by Dohm and make a simple droning breathy sound that really does the job of cancelling out voices for the privacy of clients, but it also has an odd effect: After a while you really don't even hear it anymore!  Scientists have done studies that have shown that non-threatening sounds eventually get blocked out by the brain, but still have positive effects. (  Which means that even the most lovely and stimulating noises, raindrops falling on leaves in the forest, or waves crashing, or just the whirring 

A few months ago I had to go to an intensive for my graduate counseling program, and my husband came along.  I remember trying to go to sleep in this room and it was so INCREDIBLY quiet in there.  Now, you may be thinking, "ummm, be grateful you got a quiet room!" and trust me, I do appreciate that!  I would prefer a strangely silent room over a noisy neighbor on any given side, without a doubt! The problem became that it was just too quiet.... like... eerie quiet...

We always sleep with the fan on at home and this room didn't have one, so now what do we do...?  My husband, being the beautiful genius that he is and avid user of all things Google, told me to look up sleep sounds on YouTube.  I was confused, but what about ads?  What is out there that's going to play all night?  And I am a total brat about any kind of light while I'm sleeping, I need as close to total darkness as possible. 


So, I got to looking and there are actually a TON of youtube channels that specialize in sleep sounds, therapeutic music, relaxing sounds of nature, and so on.  Many of these have "black screen" versions of them too so the brightness won't keep you up! Amazing!  Oh, and also Amazing is that these videos are anywhere from an hour or so to 12 hours long!  12 HOURS! so you know that you could turn this on and presumably have the constant sound all night without interruption!  I was floored.

My brilliant husband's advice had me searching for new amazing adventures to sleep to every night, even after we got home!  One night I was sleeping on a train, the next I was on an ice ship in the Antarctic, then walking through the park in the rain, then camping out in the woods with crickets and tree frogs singing and chirping.  

My obsession with these relaxing sounds spread further than just sleep after that.  I found channels that just had relaxing soundscapes for studying, and zen music you would expect to hear at a spa while you're getting a massage, it's incredible.  

So, the thing is, it turns out that there is science backing up the therapeutic value of nature sounds, particularly water!  

Overall, nature sounds were associated with a decrease in the body’s sympathetic response (which causes that “fight-or-flight” feeling) and an increase in parasympathetic response—the one that helps the body relax and function in normal circumstances, and is sometimes referred to as the “rest-digest” response.

Ultimately, I found that these relaxing soundscapes have PHYSICAL as well as MENTAL effects on your body, which are all good! you're able to keep autonomic stress to a minimum, and lower your heart rate and help you get to sleep faster.  


So, time to bring it full circle:  so many people ask me about these noise machines, and I always oblige with the information about them, but you can actually get a VARIETY of sounds through YouTube for FREE, and in the meantime, you are supporting the content creators who go out and record and edit these sounds together for your relaxation and enjoyment!  Win, Win!


Here are a couple of my favorite soundscape channels and creators:

Smart Sleep ........

Relax Sleep ASMR ......


Please comment with any of the ones that you enjoy, machines you use, or what sounds put you to sleep best!