Sleep is a perennial problem. There are so many things that can be disruptive to your sleep: caffeine, heavy food, light pollution, intrusive thoughts and strong emotions.
Another issue can be the noise around you, especially at night. Many people struggle to sleep through noise.
The Effects of Noise
A certain amount of ambient noise can be good, and has been shown to be relaxing. Still, sometimes there is too much noise, and that can be a real problem. Being subjected to high levels of noise over the longer term has been linked to heart disease, and depression. And in modern cities, there are a lot of noises to choose from.
A study in Paris showed that one loud motorbike riding through the city could disturb 10,000 people!
Even within your own home, there may be disturbances you can or can’t control: noisy neighbours, beeping machines, phone calls in the middle of the night.
So, what are some things you can do to help yourself sleep through noise in some of these situations?
White noise, like white light, covers the entire spectrum of sound. Due to this, it is able to mask other more intrusive noises in the background. It therefore creates a calm, peaceful environment, and has been shown to benefit health generally, and sleep in particular.
There are a number of different kinds of ear plugs. You can get foam, shaped foam, and wax ear plugs. And many people now use noise cancelling headphones in the same way.
However, there are various downsides to these items.
For some people, having something in their ears feels alien and unpleasant. For others, there may be issues with the materials the ear plugs/buds are made of. And there have also been several studies showing that cancelling out sound in this way can actually lead to developing tinnitus. It should be said, that the tinnitus was temporary.
Meditation in general can help you be calmer. It can also help you be more choiceful about where you place your attention, and that is particularly useful when it comes to noise. As any tinnitus sufferer can tell you, the more you focus on the problem sound, the worse it becomes.
Here is a meditation designed to help you block external sounds from your awareness. You may also choose to play some kind of calm music or white noise while listening to it, or you can simply use your own breathing or heartbeat as a focus.