If You Struggle To Quiet Your Mind Before Bed, Try Putting On Some Green Noise

Wide awake when you should be fast asleep? Unfortunately, you're not alone: One out of three adults are dealing with symptoms of insomnia at any given time, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Sleeplessness can have a lot of causes, from genetics to caffeine consumption, but the mind plays a clear role for many insomnia sufferers. In fact, Cleveland Clinic suggests that half of people with chronic sleep issues have a coinciding mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety.

One way of dealing with a restless mind before bed is to adjust your sleeping environment. Experts generally suggest keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and free of distractions. And if nighttime noise is an issue — whether from your neighbor upstairs, honking cars outside, or your own thoughts — a sound machine can be a simple solution. "Some people would rather not sleep in a completely quiet room," Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright, co-founders of The Happy Sleeper and authors of "Generation Sleepless," told MindBodyGreen. "For others, [turning on their sound machine] becomes a habit or a cue that it's time for sleep."

You may have heard of using white noise, brown noise, and pink noise as natural sleep aids, but there's another noise color that could help you wind down at night: green noise. Whether you're new to ambient noise or just ready to swap your white noise playlist for something new, here's why you might want to give it a try.

Green noise chills you out with nature sounds

You don't have to live in a rainforest or on the beach to be lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of nature — green noise has you covered. But what is it and how does it differ from other ambient noise? According to BetterSleep, an app that offers sleeping tools, green noise is a type of low-frequency noise that includes earthy sounds (hence its name) like rainfall, trickling streams, and softly crashing waves. The vibrations of these sounds tend to be gentle on the ears, making them the perfect soundtrack for snoozing.

"Low-frequency noises are great for sleep, and green noise is known to promote a sense of calm and relaxation that can make falling asleep easier," Dr. Shelby Harris, a clinical psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine specialist, explained to Brightly. And it seems to be more than just a placebo effect: A 2021 study published in PNAS found that listening to nature sounds improves overall health and lowers stress and irritability. Researchers concluded that water sounds, compared to other nature sounds, have the most positive impact on well-being and mood.

How to get a better night's rest with green noise

Will pressing play on a green noise playlist immediately transform your sleep routine? Not exactly, says sleep expert Martin Seeley. "If you, or your partner, are trying a different type of noise to sleep, give yourself time to adapt. I suggest two to three nights, so don't worry if you struggle the first night," he told Glamour.

If you find the sounds of rain and waterfalls distracting, not soothing, you can also play green noise before your bedtime to unwind, making sure to turn it off before dozing. Kristen Casey, a clinical psychologist and insomnia specialist, supports this technique, telling HuffPost, "We suggest setting a timer for noise to cease throughout the night so the person is able to maintain their sleep." Consider pairing green noise with meditation or breathing exercises to get your mind ready for rest.

As for where to find your sleepytime sounds, the options are endless — even if you live far from actual nature. Music platforms like Spotify offer curated playlists containing green noise, along with free services like YouTube. You can also find entire albums devoted to calming nature sounds, like singer Jhené Aiko's "Sleep Soul" (which is geared toward infants but will likely have you sleeping like a baby too). Sound machine devices may also offer green noise in addition to classic fan sounds and white noise tones.