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Being 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
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.
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 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.
There’s no need to download anything, just click on each sound to listen to it. And it loops indefinitely.
SonicMood [No Longer Available]
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.
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 areand .
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.
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 –. 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, 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.
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.