Certain sounds, such as screams and loud alarm clocks, can hardly be ignored. Yet other sounds, like the wind in the trees and waves lapping ashore, we sort of tune out.
“These slow, whooshing noises are the sounds of non-threats, which is why they work to calm people,” said Orfeu Buxton, an associate professor of biobehavioral health at Pennsylvania State University. “It’s like they’re saying: ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry.'”
Louder noises in general, as we’ve all experienced, tend to be harder to sleep through. But perhaps even more important than volume is the character of a sound in how it can trigger the brain‘s so-called threat-activated vigilance system and jolt us from slumber.
“The type of noise defines if you will wake up or not, controlling for the volume because the noise information is processed by our brain differently,” Buxton said.
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