Vibrational sound therapy is a healing modality that uses sound frequencies and soothing sounds to promote inner peace, deep relaxation, and emotional well-being.
Sound therapists use a variety of tools and musical instruments — such as Tibetan singing bowls, tuning forks, sound baths, mantras, and gongs — to produce soothing sounds that stimulate the body’s relaxation response.
While sound therapy practitioners say that vibrational frequencies can remove blockages from your energy field, there isn’t much evidence to back up these claims yet. However, there is some evidence that sound vibrational therapy can provide health benefits that may help you sleep better.
f you’re an Oura member, tap on the Explore Tab in your Oura App to access a growing library of guided meditations. Or try an Unguided session, accessible with the + sign in Home, where you can listen to soundscapes including nature sounds, pink noise, and harmonic field sounds.
After you complete a session, you’ll receive biofeedback — such as your heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), and skin temperature — that lets you know how your body responds to different sounds. Then, you can add the ones that work best for you into your daily routine.
The Power of Sound: How Does Vibrational Sound Therapy Work?
During a sound healing session, different sound vibrations and frequencies are used to produce different effects in the brain and body. For instance, a 2022 study found that listening to low-frequency sounds helped alleviate acute stress in university students.
While it is still unclear exactly how sound vibrations affect the body and brain, a 2021 meta-analysis of current research suggests that they may work by activating the parasympathetic nervous system — the part of your nervous system responsible for the “rest and digest” or relaxation response.
Meanwhile, another study from 2022 found that listening to low vibrational frequencies had a positive effect on HRV, although further research is also still needed in this area.
Your HRV can tell you a lot about your heart’s ability to respond to life’s stressors — for instance, a lower HRV may indicate you’re stressed out and that some relaxation time might be in order. Keeping track of your HRV in the Readiness Tab of the Oura App can help you manage your stress levels by incorporating activities such as vibrational sound therapy into your self-care routine.
READ MORE: What Is HRV Balance?
While further research is still needed to understand how vibrational sound therapy works, these initial studies indicate it may help with managing stress and promoting overall well-being. But what about sleep?
How Does Vibrational Sound Therapy Improve Sleep?
If you’re someone who struggles with sleep, you may be wondering if vibrational sound therapy can help you get some rest. The good news is that it could help — and here’s how.
1. Promotes Relaxation
The stress-relieving properties of sound vibrational therapy make it a good choice for unwinding at the end of the day and releasing any built-up mental or physical tension before you go to bed.
Calming your mind can help you fall into deep sleep more easily — Oura member Gabriel found that listening to Oura’s guided meditations before bed improved his sleep quality and increased his Readiness Score over time.
READ MORE: What Is Readiness?
2. Prepares Your Brain for Deep and REM Sleep
Sound meditations can help prepare your brain for sleep by changing your brainwave patterns. One study into the effects of delta wave binaural beats on the sleep quality of students found that listening to these frequencies improved sleep quality and duration while reducing nighttime awakenings. Delta waves are the brainwave frequency associated with deep sleep.
Meanwhile, another study found that certain types of music can induce theta brainwave activity — the state most commonly associated with REM sleep or deep relaxation.
Oura’s Sleep Score, based on our highly accurate sleep staging algorithm, provides detailed insights into your sleep cycles that can help you optimize your nighttime routine for a balanced night’s sleep.
READ MORE: REM Sleep: What Is It and How to Get More
READ MORE: How Does the Oura Ring Track My Sleep?
3. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Multiple studies have demonstrated the power of sound when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety — two common causes of insomnia. For instance, one study found that music therapy was effective at reducing stress and anxiety in critically ill patients, and another study of Tibetan singing bowl meditation found it to be effective at relieving tension.
Additionally, a third study found that participating in vibrational sound therapy can reduce or even eliminate the detrimental effects of stress at the cellular level.
READ MORE: How Stress Affects Your Sleep
4. Boosts Your Physical Health
Stress and anxiety can take their toll on your physical health, leading to chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and even affecting your immune system.
A 2023 study found that having an irregular sleep schedule increases the risk of hypertension. Therefore, if you struggle to get to sleep at the same time each night, listening to soothing sleep sounds may help you get onto a regular sleep schedule and lower your blood pressure.
5. Enhances Emotional Regulation
Emotions and sleep can create either a vicious or a virtuous cycle. Research shows that while difficult emotions can impact your sleep quality, sleep quality also affects your emotions.
Since vibrational sound therapy frequencies induce a relaxation response, they can help you get more sleep, and by getting more restful sleep, you’ll be better at regulating your emotions. It’s a win-win!
How to Incorporate Vibrational Sound Therapy Into Your Life
Incorporating vibrational sound therapy into your bedtime routine doesn’t have to be complicated. We recommend setting aside some time each evening to start winding down for the night and using vibrational sound therapy in one of the following ways.
- Use your voice — for example, you can try:
- Humming: This can be an even tone, moving up and down scales, soft, loud, creating a tune, or humming a song you know and love.
- Making nature sounds, such as whistling and blowing.
- Chanting mantras or singing.
- Try tools like tuning forks, bells, gongs, chimes, or Himalayan singing bowls.
- Listen to vibrational sound therapy recordings like this one: