Can White Noise Help You Sleep?

We know all too well the extent of how sleep deprivation can deplete our energy levels. Many of us feel lethargic after a long night of struggling to fall asleep. This is hardly unusual, given the fact that the average adult requires at least seven hours of sleep per day. Sleep is necessary for resting and repairing our body after a day’s worth of activity and abuse from the elements. It stands to reason that not enough of it means that our body would be unable to properly recover. Unfortunately, fatigue is not the only consequence of sleep deprivation — our skin may also be affected. Noticed your pores growing in size lately? Or perhaps your previously flawless skin has suddenly broken out in unsightly acne? Insufficient sleep may indeed be the reason for these skin conditions.

White noise, however, might just be the light at the end of the tunnel. Most of us have heard this noise at least once in our lives without even realising what it’s called, especially if you’ve used a radio before. Put simply, white noise is a combination of all audible frequencies of sound, not unlike how white light encompasses equal intensity of every wavelength of the visible spectrum. In recent years, white noise has been found to be quite useful as a sleep aid. Read on to find out more.


How Does White Noise Help You Sleep?

Since white noise comprises of every single sound frequency, it may be able to mask other distracting noises, surrounding the listener in a safe and soothing little cocoon of sound. Research even indicated that white noise lulled test subjects to sleep, even amidst an ambient noise recording of an intensive care unit in a hospital.

White noise works especially well as a sleep aid for anyone who gets easily distracted by irregular, soft noises in an otherwise completely quiet room. Or perhaps they are light sleepers who are easily jolted awake as soon as there are slight inconsistencies in sound. These could be the soft, off-beat tapping of raindrops against the window or sudden muffled footsteps from the neighbours living above you. For most healthy sleepers, these soft noises do little to abate them from falling asleep instantly, but not everyone is quite as lucky. People who struggle to sleep due to tinnitus, or anyone looking for a distraction from their own thoughts, may also wish to consider sleeping with white noise.

If any of these scenarios even remotely applies to yours, you may wish to give white noise a go. Try looking for a 10-hour recording of pure, uninterrupted white noise online and let it run throughout the night. An old FM radio might also work if you’re still able to get your hands on one of them — that little bit of static in between stations counts as white noise. Some people also swear by sleeping with a fan, which also emits white noise. Do note that using this as a sleep aid may not necessarily work for you. Although many do enjoy better sleep this way, others find that their senses become even more heightened, instead. The only way for you to find out is by experimenting with it for a few days.


Other Coloured Noises

If you do find white noise mostly intolerable, consider these alternatives:

Pink Noise

Some people find pink noise far more soothing and pleasant to the ears. But what is pink noise, then? Quite frequently found in nature, pink noise is actually just white noise, but with frequencies of sound on the higher end of the spectrum toned down. In other words, the higher tones are turned down to a lower intensity, allowing lower frequency tones to dominate, compared to true white noise. Pink noise may be more suited for people who suffer from tinnitus (or are simply averse to high-pitched sounds). In most cases of tinnitus, there’s an incessant ringing noise in the ears that becomes even more obvious in a completely silent room. Where white noise might just end up drawing attention to the ringing sound, pink noise blends into the high-pitched sound more seamlessly.

Brown Noise

Named after an eminent microscopist, brown noise is different from either pink or white noise. Rather than emit every single sound frequency, brown noise is random, mimicking Brownian motion. Most of us tend to find that brown noise sounds like white noise, but pitched lower. You might have heard brown noise in the passenger cabin of an aeroplane before. That’s why it’s easy enough for flight passengers to nod off in the middle of their flight. Despite its loudness, brown noise is so steadily random, without any stark changes, that it easily lulls passengers to sleep. If you’ve found yourself in such a scenario before, try playing a sound clip that mimics the ambient sound of an aeroplane and allows the sounds to wash over you.