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sleep / sound

What is White Noise and Does It Help You Sleep?

by BetterSleep
Mar 7 • 4 min read
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There’s nothing better than waking up refreshed after a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, many struggle, with up to 30 percent of American adults reporting they don’t get enough sleep each night.

One cause could be the sleep environment. It may not be quiet enough or the temperature is off. Or maybe the brain is over-active after scrolling on a phone too late. White noise is a way to combat this and promote a restful night’s sleep.

The steady, repetitive sound, is thought to block out other disruptive noises such as cars, dogs barking, your neighbors shouting and more. While some love it and swear by it, others are not so sure. Let’s take a look at what it actually is and if there is any science to back it up.

What is White Noise?

White noise is a combination of various sounds between 20 hertz and 20,000 hertz, played at a level intensity. The sound produced is kind of like a ‘’shhh’’ sound, similar to radio static or a whirring fan. White noise is often used in settings such as a doctor’s office, to help maintain privacy.

What Are the Benefits of White Noise?

There are many benefits to using white noise for sleep. Past studies have shown the use of white noise to be an effective method for masking environmental noises, improving sleep and helping to maintain a deep sleep. The many benefits include:

  • Helps to relax. Provides a soothing sound encouraging relaxation.
  • Switches off your mind. Active minds find it hard to switch off in silence. White noise can help to calm racing thoughts.
  • Blocks loud noises. The constant ‘’shhh’’ sound of white noise, helps to block environmental noises that may prevent sleep, such as cars, neighbors and sirens.
  • Easy to use. Sleep apps like BetterSleep make it easy to have white noise at your fingertips, even when you travel.

Pink Noise Vs White Noise

Pink noise contains frequencies audible to the human ear, with lower sounds amplified and higher sounds diminished. The sound created is deep and even. Examples include:

  • Powerful wind
  • Waves crashing on the beach
  • Leaves rustling
  • Rain beating down

A 2012 study found that pink noise encouraged a deep sleep by calming brain activity in the participants.

Brown Noise Vs White Noise

Brown noise (otherwise known as red noise) lowers the higher frequencies even more than pink noise. The sound produced is a bit rougher with examples including:

  • Thunder
  • Strong waterfalls
  • A low roar

While brown noise is a little deeper than white or pink noise, it sounds very similar to the human ear. There isn’t a ton of evidence to back up the effects of brown noise, but users say it aids relaxation and induces sleep.

What is the Best White Noise App?

If you have trouble falling asleep, the BetterSleep app offers all you could need to drop into a deep, restful slumber. Mix and match over 150 soothing sounds to create the perfect snooze-inducing soundscape.

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