Sounds To Help You Sleep, Relax, Concentrate Or Wake Up!

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sounds to relaxBeing a music lover, I enjoy all sorts of music (with the exception of heavy metal and gangsta rap, they’re just not my thing) and I really feel that music sets the tone in a room as well as in your mind. There’s music I listen to when I want to get some blood pumping as soon as I wake up and there are some that I play when it’s time to chill and relax.

I’ve been looking into some relaxing sounds which apparently allows us to relax and slip into a more relaxed state of mind by influencing brain waves. Basically when our brain works, there’s an electrical impulse generated which runs a specific frequency. This frequency changes according to our state of mind: alertness (alpha), relax (beta), drowsiness (theta) and deep sleep (delta).

With an external stimulus (in this case we’re using sound/music) we can shift our state of mind from alpha to beta or hopefully theta if you’re trying to fall asleep; or to alpha if you’re trying to wake yourself up.

I’ve found several ways to achieve this and I’m going to list them out here:

Sounds to relax or fall asleep

Pzizz

Many Mac and Windows users should be familiar with this application. It’s well known for helping insomniacs fall asleep and also to get the best out of power napping. Pzizz may not be free but they do offer two sample 15-minute MP3’s to get a short preview of how their application is like. One of the two MP3’s is to help you fall asleep and the other is the energizer module.

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Hopefully, listening to 15 minutes of the sleep module will get you relaxed enough to fall asleep. If not, there’s always the “Repeat” button. If you’re a serious insomniac who is looking for a way to help you get some kip, this should be it.

iSerenity

iSerenity is a website which has pre-recorded ambient soundscapes like falling rain, ocean waves, thunder and the sound of a crackling fire among many others. Think of it as something like an online sound machine.

relaxing sounds

There’s no need to download anything, just click on each sound to listen to it. And it loops indefinitely.

SonicMood

Another online sound machine is SonicMood. It’s a little different from iSerenity in the sense that the sounds they offer aren’t exactly “ambient”. It’s more like a blend of MIDI instruments to form a relaxing sound piece.

sounds to aid sleep

Similarly to iSerenity, you can listen to SonicMood through your web browser. They package their sounds in different “moods”, most of which are to help you relax. My favourites are Japanese Wind Chimes and Lighthouse.

dlooch Dashboard widget [Mac Only]

If you’re not big on ambient sounds, you may find dlooch an interesting approach to relaxing. All it does is loop soothing sounds by fading them in and out. At first, they sound rather mechanical but slowly the relaxation kicks in if you allow it to play for a while.

relaxing music

Podcasts

One shouldn’t overlook the beauty of podcasts when searching for ambient sounds. There are quite a few like Dark Ambient [iTunes link] and White Noise Lounge [iTunes link] that provides soothing soundscapes. Just do a simple search in iTunes store for “ambient” and scroll through the results. You’ll be amazed at what you might find.

To wake up!

Back in 2006, an interesting MP3 arose on the internet which supposedly replaces your morning cuppa joe and its aptly called – Coffee Replacement. To some people, it sounds like a washing machine winding up in frequency with some birds chirping in the background. It may or may not work for you – and in my book, there’s never a good replacement for that steaming cup of coffee in the morning.

However, this is definitely worth a try if you’re cutting down on coffee or need something to pick you up if whenever you’re feeling sleepy.

The 20 minute MP3 was lost in the sea of all the file sharing sites, most of the links appeared to be dead. By chance, I managed to find a live link and decided to share it here with our MakeUseOf readers.

Coffee Replacement – 20 min MP3, 27MB

WARNING: Coffee Replacement should NOT be used by people who have any forms of seizures or epilepsy; suffering from cardiac disorders or use pacemakers; or take psychoactive drugs or stimulants.

Sounds to concentrate

If you’re easily distracted by the noises in your environment and you aren’t rich enough to get one of these bad boys, then you may want to take a look at white noise. Or rather, listen.

White noise is a signal which contains equal power of a set of frequencies within the audible bandwidth of human beings. In a nutshell, it’s a collection of all the frequencies of sounds we can hear. It is more commonly used for masking sound, i.e. blocking out unwanted surrounding sounds like chatter or street noise. Some even use it to mask tinnitus, a ear condition where a person will constantly hear ringing or buzzing and often causes headaches. White noise is best appreciated when using stereo headphones.

White noise - sounds to concentrate

For Mac users, there’s Noisy – a simple white and pink noise generator. Windows users may want to take a look at a free application called White Noise Sleep System. For everyone else, there’s Simplynoise – an online white, pink and red noise generator.

So there, all the sounds you’ll need to help you feel relaxed, fall asleep, concentrate or to wake up without that morning coffee. Let me know how it works for you. And like always, if there are any other applications you use which are not listed here, please share them with us in the comments.

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27 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Foxuser

I think Aura should be at the top your list – it’s freeware, lots of way to configure to your ears taste : ) you can also download additional sounds to add to the main program, like the following
Guitar and more in the night
Sounds for alarm clock
Winged foresters in the night
Thunder Roarings (sound only with Rain!)
Flute and more in daytime forest
… and more.
Enjoy!

umopit.ru/AuraEng.htm

Jackson Chung

Thanks, that seems like a viable option for Windows users

Reply

Brad

There are some excellent netlabels that feature free ambient music that is perfect for sleep, meditation or other relaxation. A lot of it (especially the Dark Ambient) can have some noisier elements that can be jarring for sleep. I have a blog that covers lots of what you might call “Light Ambient”. It’s all available for free. Free Floating

Jackson Chung

Nice collection

Reply

fornikfct

I like this sound!

Jackson Chung

Which ones? :P

Reply

Chris

I’m listening to the ‘Coffee Replacement’ right now. It seems to be working :]

Oh, and SimplyNoise (the website) really does help you concentrate more. I use the pink noise setting.

Jackson Chung

Great! Good for you, less caffeine in your system :)

Reply

Andrew

Does anyone know the difference between white, pink and brown noise from simplenoise.com?

Reply

Lucy

Jackson

Oh this is awesome, thanks for the heads up

Reply

chris

Why would you start your blog post with such an earth shattering contradiction? Get your head out of your ass.

Jackson

It’s out, thanks.

Simon Slangen

lol

Reply

Brandon

SBaGen is also great for Binaural Beats (Concentration, Relaxation, etc.). Works on both MAC & PC through command line. http://uazu.net/sbagen/

Jackson

Command line might be a little daunting for general users. But hey thanks for the suggestion!

Reply

Kiki

This is incredibly useful! I’ve been using iSerenity for years, but it’s great to have options that can be used offline as well. I’m definitely linking to this!

Jackson

Years? Really? Wow, I’m glad you found some alternatives then :)

Reply

Jackson

The DivShare link for Coffee Replacement is dead. But a new link is up! Here it is: http://rapidshare.com/files/192919757/Coffee_Replacement.mp3

Reply

Vivek

Wow, great article…i should find my kind of sound and also a fitting application for it in Linux…

Reply

Koohiisan

Hey! Where did the coffee replacement mp3 go? I can’t get the link here or on the linked site to work. :( Too many downloads?

Reply

Jackson Chung

Hi guys, there’s a new RapidShare link a few comments up.

Reply

St. Tabby

The best application I’ve found, and have been using for several years now, is BrainWave Generator. You custom tweak all the different binaural beats/frequencies/background noise/wave modulation yourself. http://www.bwgen.com

Reply

Jerry Whiting

Try JetCityOrange:
JetCityOrange.com/SoundFiles/nature-sounds.html & JetCityOrange.com/meditation/binaural-beats.html to start.

Reply

biz

Very nice set of relaxation tools.

Reply

Mandz

I usually just use a fan as white noise to fall asleep. Nothing fancy, but it works.

I would consider using one of the fancier sounds, but my laptop seems to be in the habit of shutting down arbitrarily.

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