Relaxing Music with Nature Sounds – Birds Singing-Relaxing Sleep-Bird Chirping Sounds



Listening to nature helps us sleep better. We already know the soothing power of nature’s sounds: When we hear a mockingbird trill or a brook babble, our minds calm and our racing hearts slow down.
Nature’s music can restore us by helping us relax, and now we know why. Researchers have discovered that nature sounds change the connections in our brains, taking down the body’s fight-or-flight response. Fight or flight happens when we are under extreme stress. The nervous system prepares to fight or flee a threatening situation by releasing the hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These stress hormones make a good night’s sleep very difficult.
Researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in England have determined that nature’s sounds, in contrast to artificial noise, build up the “rest-digest” response instead. This opposite response to “fight-or-flight” helps the body relax and fall to sleep.
This research study, published in Scientific Reports, is noteworthy for the use of heart-rate monitors, functional magnetic resonance imaging scans (fMRI) and social experiments to determine why the body reacts so positively to natural environments.

researchers noticed that when listening to artificial sounds, the brain began a pattern of inward focused attention. This kind of attention includes worrying, depression, and forms of anxiety. Additionally, reaction time while on task was slower.
By contrast, when hearing nature sounds, the brain decreased the fight-or-flight reaction and increased the rest reaction. Participants were productive at focused tasks when listening to nature.
Adding to the myriad benefits bestowed by nature, scientists report that natural sounds alone – such as waterfalls and birdsong – are good for our health.
In a synthesis of studies, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they found that natural sounds can deliver health benefits such as reduced pain, lower stress, enhanced mood and better cognitive performance.
“The sounds of nature have long generated powerful reactions in human beings,” write Rachel Buxton, from Carleton University, US, and colleagues.
“Sounds confer a sense of place, connect people to nature, and increasing evidence suggests that natural sounds are important for human health and wellbeing.”
In their review and pooling of data from 36 studies, they found that water sounds were most effective at boosting mood and cognition, while birdsong alleviates stress and annoyance.
“The sounds of birds are highly soothing to people, as well as the sounds of moving water or a breeze through trees or meadows,” says senior author George Wittemyer.
There’s also evidence that these sounds might help mask the negative impacts of anthropogenic noise, such as cars, trains and planes – listening to natural sounds paired with human noise had better health outcomes than listening to noise alone.
Noise can interfere with animals’ ability to communicate and survey their environment, cause hyperarousal and impact their behaviour, physiology and fitness – and it can also be detrimental to humans, affecting hearing, heart health and tranquillity.
Those noises and their impacts on wildlife have been a long-standing focus of the team as part of their work on sound and light ecology, and it struck them that the reverse could be important to explore.
“We realised that there remained superb natural areas which also are characterised by the prevalence of natural sounds,” says Wittemyer, “and that there was a strong parallel between the negative impacts of noise to wildlife and on people’s experiences and even health.”
Following their review, the team investigated the distribution of natural and human-caused sounds at 221 sites in 68 US national parks from ten years of recordings by students at Colorado State University in collaboration with the National Park Service.
They found that areas rich with natural sounds and with little interference from human noise are remote, only occurring at 11.3% of the sites. Parks near urban areas or with heavy visitation were more likely to be inundated with noise.

When listening to natural sounds, the brain connectivity reflected an outward-directed focus of attention; when listening to artificial sounds, the brain connectivity reflected an inward-directed focus of attention, similar to states observed in anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. There was also an increase in rest-digest nervous system activity (associated with relaxation of the body) when listening to natural compared with artificial sounds, and better performance in an external attentional monitoring task.

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