White noise is a background sound that many people find soothing, calming, and good for sleep. If you struggle to fall asleep at night, especially if you live in a noisy environment, white noise could help block out ambient sounds. White noise may even affect your brain waves, giving you a more restful sleep.
The Colors of Noise
Different types of noise are described using colors because they have similar properties to light waves. Both sound and light consist of waves with two characteristics that are important to how we experience them:
- Frequency. The frequency describes how fast waves vibrate per second, measured in Hertz. High-frequency sounds have a high pitch. In light, high frequencies are at the blue end of the spectrum.
- Amplitude. The size of a wave is its amplitude, and this determines the intensity of a sound. We measure sound wave amplitude in decibels, with louder sounds having a higher decibel rating.
White light is all the colors (frequencies) of light put together. White noise is a random mixture of all frequencies of sound at the same amplitude or decibel level.
Why White Noise Is Good for Sleep
Studies show that listening to white noise helps people fall asleep faster. In one study, researchers compared participants in a hospital exposed to white noise to those who were not. The patients who listened to white noise saw their time of onset to sleep reduced by nearly 40%. Other studies have shown white noise also helps babies get to sleep faster.
Researchers believe that white noise helps people fall asleep because it blocks out other environmental sounds. A hospital can be noisy, even at night, and the white noise masked those disruptive ambient sounds. They also suggest that the white noise helps to synch up brain waves, which contributes to better sleep.
Based on these results and those of similar studies, white noise is particularly useful if you sleep in a noisy environment. For example, in a city, irregular sounds from the streets can awaken you multiple times in the night, but white noise masks those disruptions.
Listening to white noise is not a strategy only reserved for noisy environments. White noise may change your brain waves to make you sleep deeper and better. It tends to focus the mind and quiet those anxious bedtime thoughts about the next day.
How to Use White Noise for Sleep
Using white noise to sleep is simple. Use Relax Melodies to turn on the white noise sound. You’ll hear a soft hushing or hissing kind of noise, like static on a radio or TV. Let it play softly next to you as you drift off to sleep.
For the best results, make white noise a part of an overall relaxing bedtime routine. Start with a meditation or gentle movement session. Avoid looking at your screen as you settle into the routine. Turning on white noise should be the last step before you’re ready to sleep.
Other Types of Noise for Sleep
Researchers have studied white noise the most, but there are other colors of noise that may be useful for sleep. While white noise includes all frequencies at the same amplitude, different colors emphasize specific frequencies by turning up the amplitude:
- Pink noise. Pink noise emphasizes lower frequency sounds, giving it a little more of a bass rumble than white noise.
- Brown noise. Brown noise goes even further than pink noise, making an even deeper sound.
- Green noise. Moving up the spectrum, green noise emphasizes higher frequencies, resulting in a whinier hiss.
- Black noise. This refers to no noise at all. Black noise is silence, and some people prefer it!
Many people find deeper sounds soothing, so pink and brown noise have become more popular with their emphasis on lower frequencies. Like white noise, pink noise has an effect on brain waves during sleep. Researchers have found that pink noise simplifies and synchronizes brain waves, encouraging higher sleep quality.
The type of noise that works best for sleep is highly individualized, but you can try them all Relax Melodies. Keep the volume turned low and start with white noise. Then, try the other colors and see which ones give you quicker, more restful sleep.