Why Nature Sounds Are Relaxing According to Science

Why Nature Sounds Are Relaxing According To Science?

Sound affects us more often than we realize.

We are always immersed in sound in the modern-day and age that unknowing to us we block it out.

However, whether we are consciously listening to sounds or not, it has a huge impact on us.

So why are nature sounds relaxing according to science?

A new study suggests that nature sounds physically alter the connections in our brain and reduces our body’s natural fight or flight instinct. These green environments and natural sounds are linked with well-being and relaxation for centuries.

However, further studies suggest that there is a psychological cause of these effects. In order to prove this, research had to be done in healthy adults.

The results concluded that externally focused attention was associated with nature sounds.

Relaxing Nature Sounds and its Relation to Science

Relaxing Next To Waterfall

By understanding the science behind relaxing sounds and those distraction ones, you will appreciate why you should diligently care about the sounds you listen to.

There are four ways in which sound affects you.

The first is physiological. Your hormone secretions are affected by sounds all the time, and so are your heart rate, breathing, and brain waves.

One example of this is when there is an increased secretion of cortisol when listening to unpleasant sounds.

However, evidence shows that listening to nature sounds lower these stress hormone levels.

When studies were done on artificial versus natural environmental sounds, it showed that sounds from the natural environment increased the “rest-digest” response.

Artificial sounds showed an increase in sympathetic response. So this basically means that heart and breathing rates were increased by artificial sounds.

Listening to ocean waves has always been particularly relaxing for people.

The science behind this well-known fact is that ocean waves roll in and out at approximately 12 cycles per minute.

Coincidentally, the breathing of a sleeping person cycles at around 12 times per minute.

This is the reason why the sound of ocean waves is so relaxing, sleep-inducing, and comforting to people.

One of the most powerful forms of sound to affect our physical state is music. The reason for this significant effect is because we recognize it quickly, and associate it powerfully.

Music has tremendous benefits for both the body and mind and is especially useful in reducing stress.

Young Woman Listening To Music

Over dozens of centuries, people have found that the sound of birds chirping or singing makes them feel safe, and it’s when they stop that you need to worry.

Nature sounds and other types of sounds, including distracting and annoying ones, affect us cognitively.

This way you will agree that loud office noise reduces productivity. In fact, studies show that the decrease in productivity is approximately 66%.

These unpleasant and unwanted sounds can increase your heart rate and stress levels.

So if you work in a noisy environment, one way to get some work done is by using headphones and listening to nature sounds such as bird songs or a running brook.

Sound also affects our behavior. Instinctively, you will move away from an unpleasant sound and closer to the one you like.

However, not being able to escape unpleasant sounds, especially at night can have damaging effects on your physical and mental health.

So science shows that sounds affect you in a big way. It is, therefore, in your best interest to learn more about relaxing nature sounds and how it can benefit you.

So ultimately, the more studies that are done, the more it becomes clear that nature sounds really do have a physical and mental effect on people.

There is an undoubted calmness that overcomes you as you listen to the sound of rustling leaves or water flowing down a stream.

Nature sounds physically modify the synapses in the brain and optimizes the connections between the neurons.

Why is the sound of water soothing to humans?

A few examples of flowing water are streams, waterfalls, rainfall, and ocean waves.

These sounds can instantly relax you. However, the question that everyone is asking is why the sound of water is so soothing?

Brain Interpretation

Holding Brain In The Hand

Firstly, our brain recognizes the sound of flowing water as a pleasant or non-threatening sound.

Some examples of unpleasant sounds that you cannot tune out are screams or loud alarm clocks. The brain perceives these sounds as threatening noises.

The brain prompts you to respond speedily as anything or something bad can happen. Water sounds, however, are soothing on the brain and have a calming effect.

The Sound of Water Puts you in a Meditative State

Mental tranquility is encouraged when you listen to rushing water and more so when it sounds close to you. This can help you have a great sleep.

White Noise

Moving water is actually white noise. However, the way it sounds varies from one person to the next.

When each person hears a different sound, it ultimately translates to white noise and drowns out all other sounds in the background.

Focusing on this sound alone, soothes, and relieves you of stress. As you let the sound of the water wash over you, the stress will slowly release you.

Altered State of Consciousness called Hypnosis

Most people don’t know this, but the sound of rushing or flowing water is repetitive.

It is this repetitive nature that causes you to progress into a light state of Hypnosis and deep relaxation. For most people, it instantly transports them to their happy place.

Allowing yourself to let go and enjoy this deep sense of relaxation benefits your body, mind, and soul. You must be able to relax in order to live a happier and healthier life.

What Does Science Say about the Sound of Water and its effects on People?

Many water features generate broadband sound, and this sound has equal amounts of energy at the most audible frequencies.

In a nutshell, what that means is when the sound of ocean waves are washing over your ears, it is also drowning them with information.

In fact, there is so much information that your brain will not even attempt to pick up individual tones in the midst of this sound.

Thousands of impulses are sent to the brain by the ears; however, they are evenly spread across the spectrum of frequencies.

So this ultimately means that unless you are standing under an actual or crashing waterfall, the fullness of the broadband sound will have a soothing effect on your state of mind.


Small Waterfall

Water sounds also soften less attractive noises. So when you listen to water sounds, you are less distracted.

Some scientists believe that this correlation is also due to the fact that you spend time in the amniotic fluid for nine months, and the sound of water stills seems to envelop you.

Water is also a more natural version of white noise and includes more variety across the spectrum.

Listening to the sounds of water before bed can be very calming and soothing. You may choose to invest in a sound machine to help you achieve the various sounds of nature and water.

Not only will these machines generate the sounds to help you fall off to sleep, but you will drift off into a much deeper and more refreshing sleep.

Why Does the Sound of Rain Calm you Down?

People have been falling off to sleep to the sound of rain for centuries. This is obviously because it calms you down and helps you sleep.

You will also notice that it is much harder for you to wake up when it is raining outside. This is especially if the weather is cold.

So naturally, the sound of rain helps you to sleep and makes you want to stay asleep.

Why Do People Love Rain Sounds?

This is a question that was probably asked since the beginning of time. The answer is that love for rain is linked to the need to mask unwanted sounds, particularly at night.

The sound of rain is also monotone, and if you live in a city where there are dozens of different noises at night, it will help you sleep.

Merely listening to that monotonous sound is so soothing that all you want to do is fall asleep. Another common problem with many people is the ability to still mind chatter at bedtime.

When you listen to the sound of rain, as is the case with white noise, you can only hear the monotone sound of rain, and this blocks out everything, including your wandering mind.

So the end result is that you start to relax and fall asleep faster.

The Womb Element

Woman Meditating

Another reason why people love the sound of rain so much is because of being in the womb as fetuses.

The sound of rain, which is primarily water, reminds people of the sounds they experienced in utero.

Now you can only be reminded of these sounds subconsciously, but still, it has a soothing effect.

Most people also become distracted by the sound of rain, and it also helps to release stress.

The connection between rainfall and romance could be another reason why people love it so much.

Sound Machines that Generate Rain Sounds

It’s not every day or every season that you are going to experience rain.

However, the good news is that you can still enjoy the sound of rain without it actually raining.

Sound machines generate various nature sounds, including the sound of rain and even thunderstorms.

So while rain is soothing to everyone, thunderstorm sounds may make others afraid. Ultimately it all depends on calms you down.

Why is stormy weather good for anxiety?

People often feel less pressure to meet up and talk to others during a storm. People just feel a sense of safety and relaxation during a storm, which helps reduce anxiety.

How can you enjoy the sound of rain every day?

While it surely does not rain every day, you can listen to the soothing sound of rain by investing in a sound machine.

Most of these machines generate a variety of nature sounds to choose from.

Why does the sound of water make you sleep?

The sound of running, rushing, and falling water puts people to sleep because it is a pink noise.

Pink noise cuts off background sounds and allows you to focus on the sound of water, ultimately inducing deep, restful sleep.


  • Nature Sound Retreat

    We're the group of holistic healers with a passion for sound therapy, meditation, and the benefits that music and noise can offer our bodies and minds. With over 10 years of experience teaching others about inner peace and how to achieve it with ease, we hope to share that knowledge on Nature Sound Therapy for you to enjoy for yourself.