We live in a world that is rarely silent. For many of us peace and quiet is hard to find. Surrounded by noise throughout the day and into the night we sometimes find it difficult to live without noise. The growth in sales of MP3 players and personal stereos mean that many young people are plugged in almost 24 hours a day.
Our bedrooms may not be just a haven devoted to sleep but an entertainment centre. Many people have televisions and other equipment that they will watch or use while they lie in bed. They may fall asleep watching the TV or keep the radio on during the night. Communicating or searching on the internet is a 24 hour activity and the hum of electrical equipment is a familiar sound in many bedrooms.
Although most people will get used to continuous noises such as road traffic, a ticking clock or even a partner’s snoring, for others it makes it difficult to fall and stay asleep. We are programmed to wake to sudden and loud noises. New parents develop sensitivity to a baby’s cry and an alarm or telephone will usually wake even the heaviest sleeper.
Although we may sleep through a variety of sounds, this does not mean that our sleep is unaffected. Most of us learn to live with a variety of different sounds but will often insist on silence when staying away. Hotels often promise peace and quiet and many travellers and holidaymakers find that this tranquility helps them relax and improves sleep.
Noise and Babies
Babies prefer to sleep in an environment where there is some noise. They are less sensitive to noise and light and will sleep when they are tired. As they grow they will gradually adjust, and a regular bedtime routine and a familiar environment will help them adjust to night and day.
They may continue to feel more secure if they have a night light or an open door so that they can hear familiar sounds as they fall asleep.
A bedroom is a place to sleep, and only to sleep. This means that watching TV, working on the accounts and emailing friends must stop. By doing a sound check you may be surprised at the noises you can hear. Some may be outside your control; but closing the windows, drawing the curtains and removing anything that clicks, hums or buzzes might help. A snoring partner may not be so easy to resolve, but some people find earplugs a great bedtime accessory!
Sounds for Sleep
Many people find that music and some sounds make them feel relaxed and help them sleep. Research has shown that rhythmic sounds can help reduce anxiety and help relaxation. Specially composed music has been shown to influence brain wave patterns. There has also been success using ‘brain music’ which is music that mimics natural brain waves.
Music has been used for centuries to encourage sleep. The soothing sounds and comforting lyrics of the traditional lullaby still help infants drift off. Other sounds such as the lapping of waves by the sea have been shown to induce a feeling of relaxation and calm. Rhythmic music is often used during guided relaxation and meditation to encourage changes in the mind and body.
There are CDs available that aim to encourage relaxation. There are also a number of resources that offer guidance on relaxation and meditation. These can help encourage insomniacs to relax before sleep. Sound can be used to stimulate and produces strong emotional reactions. It can also calm and relax the mind and body and is a lovely way to wind down after a busy day.