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Trouble sleeping? Discover sleep sounds, from ASMR to nature to deep rest

For some people, falling asleep is simply a matter of getting into bed and closing their eyes. For others, it can be a long and frustrating process. Luckily, if you fall into the latter camp, there are sleep techniques that can help you drift off. These include audio options – or, as they’re known, sleep sounds.

Falling asleep to audio is nothing new. After all, if your parents used to read you bedtime stories, you’ve already experienced the power of sounds to help you sleep. What’s changed over the last few years is the range of different sleep sounds available.

Some of these audio options involve playing with different frequencies, such as white and pink noise. Others draw on meditation techniques to help you relax into sleep.

Sleep sounds are particularly good options if outside noises keep you awake at night – traffic, foxes at play or a snoring partner can all make it difficult to drift off. But even if your bedroom is near-silent, you may still find that some soothing audio can help ease you into sleep.

Perhaps surprisingly, there hasn’t been a huge amount of clinical research into sleep sounds, so it’s hard to say whether one type is more effective than another. Your best bet is to try different audio styles to find out which works for you, helping you to get enough sleep and rest.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the main types of sleep sounds. If it’s possible the audio will disturb any other members of your household, consider investing in a pair of sleep headphones – these are softer than normal headphones, often designed as a headband, so they shouldn’t be uncomfortable if you fall asleep wearing them.

Jump to:

Bedtime stories for adults

Sleep meditations

Guided relaxation before bed

Nature sounds

White, pink and brown noise


Relaxing music

Binaural beats

Sound meditation

9 types of sleep sounds

We hope at least one of these types of sleep sound will bring you a blissful night of peace and sweet dreams.

A man and a woman lying on their backs with their eyes closed in a bed with white sheets

1. Bedtime stories for adults

As we’ve mentioned, bedtime stories are the original sleep sounds, and there’s no reason you can’t continue this soothing habit in adulthood if it suits you.

One potential problem is that you’ll become engrossed in an audiobook or podcast, and therefore find it harder to fall asleep. That’s why it’s worth investigating stories that have been specifically written to promote sleep. These are often pretty mundane – describing an uneventful trip to the seaside, for example, or a cosy afternoon in a cottage, and they usually contain sleep-triggering words. In short, sleep stories are the written equivalent of a lullaby, created to calm rather than excite your mind.

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2. Sleep meditations

A good guided meditation will relax mind and body. Expect breathing techniques, body scanning, counting and visualisation.

As you lie in bed, let the words wash over you and feel yourself slowly unwind.

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3. Guided relaxation before bed

If, for whatever reason, you’re not sold on the idea of having audio in your bedroom, you can still use the power of sound to help you sleep. You’ll find plenty of guided meditations that you can use to get into a sleepy state before you head to bed.

Add a guided meditation to your bedtime routine and hopefully it’ll prime you to drift off as you slip under the covers. If you’re a David Lloyd Clubs member, you’ll find on-demand meditation sessions on our app, including a deliciously soothing Meditation to Unwind session.

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4. Nature sounds

Think ocean waves, distant thunderstorms and birdsong in the forest – according to a University of Sussex study, playing nature sounds can reduce the body’s fight-or-flight response, and that could help you get a good night’s sleep.

Experiment with different types of nature sound to see which you find most conducive for sleep.

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5. White, pink and brown noise

White, pink and brown noise are background sounds using different frequencies. White noise has been a sleep aid for a good few years – it contains all the frequencies that are audible to the human ear, and sounds like static or the noise of a vacuum cleaner.

Pink and brown noise are newer to the sleep-aid scene. Pink noise is a lot like white noise but is a lower-frequency sound – think rain or wind. Brown noise has an even greater emphasis on lower frequency sounds

White, pink and brown noise are all particularly good for blocking out unwanted sounds. As with nature sleep sounds, it’s about experimenting to find the right one for you.

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The acronym ASMR refers to the way certain sounds can make you feel: a tingling feeling across your scalp that’s deeply relaxing and enjoyable, known as the autonomous sensory meridian response.

A huge range of sounds fall under the ASMR umbrella. Whispering, fingernails tapping, the sound of a pen on paper, a cat purring… dive in and find out what provokes the response in you. Because it’s such a relaxing sensation, once you find the sound that triggers it, you can use this to help fall asleep.

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7. Relaxing music

Put together a playlist of slow, steady tracks to help relax your breathing and calm your mind -think classical, chill-out and ambient music. Our playlist of relaxing music is a good starting point. Various, albeit small, studies have suggested that soothing music can help reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

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8. Binaural beats

Binaural beats are a tone created by your brain in response to hearing two tones with different frequencies at the same time. You’ll need to wear headphones for this to work. Anecdotal evidence suggests that binaural beats can reduce stress and anxiety, and – most importantly for our purposes here – promote sleep.

Explore our binaural beats Spotify playlist

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9. Sound meditation

Imagine being cocooned in soothing sound, with the everyday world melting away. That’s pretty much the sound meditation experience – rather than words, this type of session uses a variety of sounds to move you into a state of deep relaxation.

You’ll find videos online, but there’s nothing quite like a live sound meditation session to help set you up for a good sleep.

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Want to explore more ways to get your rest? Discover the surprising relationship between sleep and exercise.

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