Barking dogs, tolling church bells, blaring music, parading bands, exploding fireworks, police whistles, sirens, and crowing roosters are among the many noises that make up the soundtrack of life in Latin America, our home-away-from-home for nearly two years now.
Like many visitors, we have a love/hate relationship with the auditory vibrancy of the Latin American lifestyle. Most of the time, the crazy cacophony charms and amuses us. At 3AM, not so much.
Not to worry: There’s an app for that.
From ocean waves and chirping tree frogs to ambient white noise and brain wave technology, here are three apps we keep by the bedside to block out the noise and help us get a good night’s sleep.
1. White Noise by TMSOFT
This has become our go-to app when the fiesta really gets cranking, or the neighbor’s yappy Chihuahua won’t stop barking. With an extensive sound catalog that includes an oscillating fan, air conditioner, human heartbeat, clothes dryer, train tracks, Tibetan chimes, and a purring cat, plus a digital rainbow of white, brown, pink, blue and violet noise frequencies, there’s a sound for every situation or mood.
The large, illuminated clock display is perfect when I want to know the time at a glance, or for early flights when I don’t trust hotel alarm clocks or wake up service.
Better still, for an additional $0.99, I can record sounds from my travels and fall asleep to auditory memory loops like an Amazon rainstorm, Costa Rican birdsong, or the comforting cadence of a sailboat bow sluicing through the Caribbean.
From $1.99, available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Macs.Developer website
2. Sleep Pillow Sounds by ClearSky Apps
I tend use this app more when I’m working at the computer, than as a nighttime noise-buster. On a sizzling hot afternoon in Nicaragua, for example, the ‘rain on a tent’ track can nearly fool me into thinking there’s a cooling rain coming down outside.
Includes useful features like auto shutoff and a fade-in alarm, background play, and custom sound mixes. Great for tuning out engine noise and passenger chatter on airplanes, or as a relaxing soundtrack when I just want to chill.
Free for iPhone, iPad, iPod and from $1.99 for Macs with OS X 10.7 or later.Developer website
3. Napuru Relax and Sleep
This was the first sleep app I downloaded, yet I use it more for creativity and well-being than drowning out noise.
Marketed as music therapy as well as a sleep app, I find it to be a great tool for inducing relaxation, alleviating anxiety or silencing my ‘monkey mind’. I use this with headphones when I’m feeling fidgety or thinking about checking my Twitter or Facebook feeds, again, instead of writing.
Free with purchased upgrades for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Developer website