Noise Of Rain: Sweet Melody For The Brain

Rain sound: sweet melody for the brain

The sound of rain: an unmistakable, rhythmic ticking, which infuses peace and resounds on the windows or on the asphalt in the street. The melody of the sky, sometimes angry, of the renewing nature is, above all, a frequency that calms the brain. The effect is different from time to time, it lulls us and facilitates sleep or awakens our imagination.

Henry Beston, a well-known naturalist and writer, used to say that few sounds on our planet are as elementary as the roar of the waves and the rain falling on our cities. In a way, everything that has to do with water awakens our senses and fascinates us.

Of course, not all of us are “rain-loving”, not all of us feel happy or safe when the sky is covered with clouds and the light becomes leaden. However, as a matter of fact, just take a look on Youtube or Spotify to find that for many of us there is nothing better than the sound of rain  to relax.

This effect in our brains and minds is due to a number of very specific factors. Let’s see them together.

Woman listens to the rain at the window

The sound of rain, the sound of calm

The sound of the waves crashing on the rocks, a flowing stream, the falling rain… Many people experience a pleasant sensation when they hear the sound of water. Now, more than pleasure or calm, a neurologist would say that what we feel is a feeling of “no threat”.

Some might be surprised: the natural phenomena associated with water are not without dangers, and the sea, the rain can have an unstoppable force.

However, it is a question of concentrating exclusively on the sound of water: rhythmic, regular, repetitive; it reaches a decibel threshold that allows our brain to enter a state of calm.

On the contrary, auditory stimuli that exceed 70 decibels or sudden and irregular are interpreted by our brain as a threat. The same conclusion was reached thanks to a study conducted in 2012 by Pennsylvania State University. In short, we are physiologically structured to react to an unexpected sound, a scream, a strident sonic stimulus. 

This explains why the irregular traffic noise, a group of people shouting in the street and the whole range of noises that populate the urban forest generate stress and psychological exhaustion. Our brain needs environmental harmony ; the acoustic balance offered by the rain generates quiet. Only in this way does the brain gratify us with endorphins and release that ideal sense of well-being to rest or to enter a placid state of introspection.

Owl shelters under a mushroom

Rain noise or acoustic camouflage

There are many people who use the sound of rain to help them sleep. For those who suffer from occasional insomnia or especially associated with stress, it can be a good strategy. Orfeu Buxton, a Harvard University lecturer and expert on sleep disorders, assures that most of his patients benefit from what he calls “acoustic camouflage”.

This term refers to all those sounds with uniform frequencies that “turn off” the feeling of threat present in the brain. If we lead a life under pressure, stress and anxiety, certain areas of the brain end up constantly being alert and defensive. 

With rain noise or white noise (an acoustic signal that contains all frequencies at the same power) a kind of camouflage is achieved . The brain is offered a stimulus that generates a sensation of control, a repetitive pattern that convinces it of the absence of external threats. That everything is quiet.

Illuminated brain

In a world overwhelmed by sudden stimuli, our brain needs moments in which everything is predictable. Of moments in which nothing interrupts us, in which life is limited to flow, to remain enclosed in a perfect instant of harmony and balance. The sound of the rain succeeds. Nature and its phenomena reunite us with our roots, our essence, they lead us into that personal space in which we limit ourselves to being.

Finally, let’s not forget another wonderful effect of rain: its smell, the unmistakable scent of wet earth. The “geosmin” that remains suspended in the air captures us with its fragrance, making memories re-emerge and transmitting pleasant sensations.

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