Try Sleeping the Ambient YouTube Way

Sleep doesn’t really come to me easily. I am regularly snubbed by the Sandman, and I have been for many, many years now. I’ve tried a lot of different methods to promote a peaceful slumber, regular sleep patterns, or even just a block of snoozing that winds up being semi-restful. Some things work for a while, but apparently my unconscious mind hates routine as much as my awake mind does, because it eventually gets bored and rejects it. Boo hoo all I want is to sleep!

Illustration showing Amandoll asleep in a bed. Her face is peaceful. Snores come out. Her trusty stuffed animal, Scroungey, is with her.

However, over the past few months, I have discovered the joys of hours-long YouTube videos with ambient sounds! It actually worked for me to drift off while listening to ten hours of rainfall, eleven hours of rushing stream, or twelve hours of ocean sounds. When I realized that hours of moving-water noises might actually mess with my sleeping bladder, I tried nifty things like eight hours of forest and six hours of English countryside and dear lord even eight hours of a cat purring. Those sunny ones were both good for having that midday nap feeling and the cat one somehow begins to massage the center of your brain… I have even dozed happily to twelve hours of ambient engine noise from a Star Trek ship, even though I do not really ever watch that show!

Tibetan bowls, lakes, white noise, the sounds of busy restaurants, and binaural theta waves – there are so many excellent videos on here just to make our lives more restful. Thousands of hours just sitting there, waiting for you to discover and test out. But, there are some that just don’t do it right. The first couple of times were accidental, but I immediately noticed that they affected me as I slept. I’ve gone and tested a few in the name of SCIENCE and I’ve come out a changed person – a more cautious person. I am here to tell you to not do these things. Do not do as I have done.

Eight Hours on a Pirate Ship

Upon clicking (purely out of curiosity), I expected raucous pirate men telling lewd tales and singing equally lewd shanties. But no, it was actually very peaceful. The pirates must have long passed out from binge boozing. I decided to sleep to it. It turns out that after eight hours of this, I woke up feeling empty. Adrift. Apparently this many hours of a creaking ship on monotonously rolling waves leaves one with the sense that they are the last person aboard a lost vessel, with no real hope of ever making it home alive.

A Twelve Hour Standing Ovation

The theory was that it would do my attitude some good if I fell asleep to the sound of a great hall of people enthusiastically cheering for me. Doesn’t everyone want to experience a standing ovation that lasts for so long that you have to go to bed from exhaustion, experience a full sleep, and wake up with the crowd STILL cheering?? I used to have that dream. But now I know that waking up to this actually makes you feel tense, like you didn’t sleep at all. Did my subconscious mind think that I should be awake and entertaining the masses? Probably. Did I spend the rest of the day feeling like I needed to do things worthy of continued applause? Definitely.

Nearly Nine Hours of Winter Wind

I might try this again if I am ever trapped in an un-air conditioned summertime heat wave, but any other time of my life — never again. I thought having this play while I slept would resonate with my inner emotional landscape and cause me a deep sense of comfort, but instead I felt cold. Cold and weary and forlorn… and hungry. All of that thinking I was freezing to death in my sleep caused me to want to fatten up for possible hibernation! NO.

Ten Hours of Descending Shepard Tone

I picked the descending tone instead of the ascending one because the rising Shepard tone makes me feel like I’m about to have a manic spree within about three minutes of starting and I figured that would not be a good sleep aid. So this is the one I listened to, and it has this nifty fractal to stare at until you pass out. Listen to this thing. What was I thinking? Listen to it for forty seconds and turn it off, I mean. Then go outside and take in fresh air and get a little sunshine. I will not be held responsible if you fall into the same endlessly deep abyss that I woke up to find the next morning. It is a sound that embeds right into your cells. I still hear it when things become too silent. It is part of me for always.


  1. I think this is missing an important disclaimer, identifying times at which these should not be played… namely just before trying to sleep…

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