Kirsty, Head of Operations at Kokoon
Joining the team in 2016, Kirsty has seen Kokoon grow from development through to production and onwards. She’s an avid traveller, having lived in countries around the world, with a love of exploring new cultures and cuisines, always bringing a set of Kokoon headphones for that inevitable jetlag. As a master organiser, she keeps Kokoon running day and night. Whenever you have a question on Kokoon, Kirsty will know the answer!
Sounds are one of the most popular ways in which we relax and sleep. They can capture our imagination transporting us to a different space altogether. They can lull us into a sense of relaxation, mask out unsavoury noises, and of course, undo that sense of relaxation with a loud alarm!
Whilst noisy environments can prevent us from sleeping, sleep and sound can make for excellent bedfellows if used wisely.
Different sounds can be used to mask, distract or relax us, impacting the onset, length and quality of sleep.
While technically making our sleep environment noisier, listening to consistent sounds such as ‘coloured’ noises actually has the same effect on the mind as a quiet environment. . It isn't 'sound' that disrupts sleep, but intermittent sounds like sirens, snoring or a barking dog. Even if we don't wake up, intermittent sounds can disturb our sleeping state. Coloured noise can mask these disturbances by blocking them out, and keeping our minds tuned to a steady, consistent hum throughout the night.
Even in the most stressful of situations, the masking effects of coloured noise have been documented to improve and maintain sleep.
Turning off the light can lead our minds to wander and race down paths we'd rather they didn't. Audiobooks and podcasts have boomed in popularity over the past few years.
"But wait " we hear you say, "doesn't that count as an intermittent sound?!".
Yes, variation in speech and volume can keep us from staying asleep if left on all night. But where they shine is helping us infalling sleep. Podcasts and Audiobooks can distract from our internal monologues and focus our minds away from trying too hard to sleep, or heading down a worry track and take us to a more leisurely space and pace.
If you're listening to podcasts or audiobooks with your Kokoons on, and don't have coloured noise lined up for when you fall asleep, we'll take care of this for you but shutting off the headphones as you fall asleep.
There are a number of more hands-on techniques that can help slow our minds down to rest. Guided meditations, for example, can help slow our brainwaves from Beta (the frequency of wave associated with wakeful activity) down to steadier Alpha waves, readying our minds and bodies for rest.
If you're anxious or stressed, this tension manifests in both mind and body. So relaxing muscles in the body, or using positive visualisations and affirmations can help steady our brainwaves, breathing and heart rate to a more sleepy state.
Similarly, Music is a particularly useful tool in our sleep arsenal in that it can help us both fall AND stay asleep.
Like meditations, rhythmic music can both prompt your body to slow down; often it might match your breathing rate to a steady beat, as well as block out external intermittent sounds. Relaxing music not only helps send you off to sleep, but studies show it may also improve your overall sleep quality.
Finally, soundscapes get full marks as the ultimate sleep escape. They distract us by transporting us away to somewhere else entirely - your own ‘Kokoon’ from the outside world. They can mask distractions through steady rhythms like waves, water or whale song. And they can relax our minds by connecting the natural world to our mental landscapes. You may have headed to bed with a mind akin to your cluttered desk space, but you'll be climbing in with the mind of a remote Caribbean beach.
There is rarely such a thing as the sound of silence. Use one sound, or all three - with your newfound arsenal of sounds, you're ready to go ahead and construct the perfect recipe for sleep unique to you. Take some time to explore the Kokoon app and find your perfect sleep and relaxation accompaniment.
Oh and one final tip:
Ever wondered why lullabies and bedtime stories work for kids? It actually has nothing to do with the song itself but the power of association. If you were read or sang to as a child, your brain will associate that ritual with falling asleep. Similarly, the absence of a routine or bedtime ritual - going to bed at irregular times, places and with different activities, can cause difficulty falling asleep. When it comes to building a ritual sleep Kokoon, it helps to find something that you like and build it into your daily routine.