Q: My girlfriend and I are battling a bit over what to have on our bedroom television. I always slept with a fan running and no lights. But my girlfriend has trouble sleeping with having the TV on. And all of that talking just keep me awake. Do you have any suggestions?
My wife and I have had similar issues and while there is no perfect answer, here are a couple of suggestions that might work for you. Even better, most of them are free.
If you are looking for TV that is as close to white noise as possible, the free streaming service Tubi has more than dozen options. Most of them are two hours long and they range from rain at night to the sounds of a quiet beach. There are also the more traditional aquarium and fireplace videos. There is one pre-roll ad that only lasts 30 seconds. But after that, it's two hours of white noise bliss. If I have a complaint, it's that even the videos that take place at night seem to be brighter than you might expect. Clouds are backlit in a weird way that I suspect has to do with the way the computer-manipulated images are generated. Still, these videos are my favorites and there is enough variety that you don't end up "watching" the same video night after night.
The free streaming service Pluto TV has two channels you might find useful. Channel 694 is called "Loupe," and it's mid-tempo light instrumental music combined with some beautiful still images of mostly landscapes and rural areas. It's not the answer if you are looking for white noise sounds, but the music isn't obtrusive and watching the images roll by until you get sleepy does have a bit of a Zen feel to it. The biggest issue with the channel is that it includes advertising, which can break the mood a bit.
Channel 695 is called "Slow TV," and it's footage of trains traveling through the Nordic countries. It is relaxing, although the occasional train noises can be jarring. But the sound of the train moving over the rails is calming and the footage of the trains moving across the rural landscape (the camera shows the perspective from the front of the locomotive) is fascinating in a low-key and calming way.
If you're having trouble falling asleep, then Netflix has a couple of really helpful options. The seven-episode animated series Headspace Guide to Sleep tackles the problem of how to sleep better. Each 19-ish minute episode highlights a specific problem, explains some of the misconceptions people have and then ends with a guided wind-down exercise.
The interactive animated video Headspace: Unwind Your Mind guides you to the perfect calming exercise, whether you want to relax, meditate or sleep. By asking you a couple of questions, the program is better able to find the right video for you. It sounds a bit goofy, but I've found it to be legitimately useful.