Some people prefer silence to sleep, while others like noise. The answer depends on your individual needs and the environment you are sleeping in.
White noise can be useful if you live in a noisy environment or share your bedroom with someone who has a different schedule. This form of noise can mask ambient noise, allowing for a deeper sleep. It may also help with memory, mental focus, and cognitive performance.
What is white noise? How does it help people sleep? Does it have any drawbacks? Let’s find out.
What Is White Noise?
Many ads for machines and apps make “white noise.” This noise is designed to relax people, calm them down, or make them feel good. People can create their own mix of sounds to suit their needs.
White noise is a type of noise that is random and covers all frequencies. This noise can help to mask other sounds in the environment.
Sound travels in waves. Frequency, measured in hertz, is the number of times a wave repeats in one second. A hertz is a unit of measurement that equals one cycle per second. Our hearing frequency ranges from 20 to 20,000 hertz.
The experts at Texas A&M Health say that environmental noise can keep you from getting proper sleep. They advise employing white noise devices to drown out environmental noises that prevent you from sleeping well.
According to several studies, keeping your home tidy may be harmful. We’ll get into these details later, so stay tuned.
Types of White Noise
It could be beneficial or damaging depending on the frequency and volume of the noise. Decibels are used to measure the latter (dB). Exposure to noises above 70 decibels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can damage hearing over time.
Rustling leaves, ocean waves, light rainfall, and household appliances are low-frequency sounds that fall below 50 decibels.
White noise machines make sounds that cover up other noises. People say pink noise has the same effect.
These noises are said to be soothing and relaxing. For example, it’s common to fall asleep on the beach while enjoying the sound of the ocean. This is because you are less likely to be disturbed by people passing by and talking loudly.
Many people find white noise soothing because it has the same volume across all frequencies, making a sound like “shh.” This form of noise can be divided into three categories:
- Natural noises include crickets, ocean waves, winter wind, rainfall, waterfalls, and birds chirping.
- A purring cat or a crackling fireplace are examples of ambient sounds.
- Fan noises, air purifier noises, hairdryer noises, and other home appliance noises
White noise does not include all-natural or ambient sounds. Some are pink noise, while others have a spectral density that is not flat.
Stephane Pigeon, a signal processing engineer, said white noise is often mistaken for comforting sounds. Although they may help people sleep or relax, the frequencies of these noises are different in amplitude.
Does White Noise Improve Sleep?
Some people think that white noise can help you fall asleep faster. But there is not enough evidence to say that this is true.
For example, a study published in 2005 in the journal Sleep Medicine found that patients who used a white noise machine slept better. And were less disturbed by hospital sounds than those who didn’t use one.
However, the study only had a few participants, so its findings may not apply to most people.
Another study found that 80% of newborns fall asleep faster when hearing white noise. The researchers think that this is because the noise is calming for babies.
However, not all babies respond well to this stimulus. Additionally, some sleep machines may be too loud for infants and cause hearing problems, warns the American Academy of Pediatrics.
According to Dr. Mathias Basner, most studies on the relationship between white noise and sleep are small or rely on people’s opinions about how well they slept.
Basner says that some studies confirm the benefits of white noise on sleep. But other studies suggest that it might cause people to wake up more often.
Potential Health Benefits of White Noise
In animal studies, exposure to white noise improved the symptoms of tinnitus. This condition is when a person hears a ringing sound in their ears. Some people use machines that make white noise to try and block out these sounds.
According to the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, white noise may also help improve memory.
Subjects exposed to white noise performed better on memory tasks than those exposed to other types of sounds in clinical trials. Researchers say white noise may help the brain regions responsible for dopamine secretion and attention.
Some studies suggest that white noise can help people learn and think better. Scientists used to think that only children with ADHD could benefit from white noise, but now they believe that it can help everyone.
Some studies show that healthy adults can also feel these positive effects.
Dangers of White Noise
The long-term safety of white noise is a point of contention.
For example, the American Tinnitus Association says that noise exposure below 80 to 85 decibels is safe.
Some experts say that white noise may harm the brain and central auditory system. However, because these assertions are based on animal studies, more research on the effects of white noise on people is needed.
Use a white noise machine to help you sleep if you have trouble getting to sleep. Just don’t use it every night.
According to Dr. Mouna Attarha, Ph.D., if you listen to white noise frequently, your brain will become accustomed to it. It will be unable to comprehend music and speech as effectively as previously.
According to the same source, inhibition levels tend to drop when exposed to white noise. This may affect memory and other cognitive processes in the long run. If you find it increasingly difficult to block out unwanted sounds, this may cause.
White Sound Is Not Your Only Option
If you find white noise irritating, you can always use a sleep machine or app with pink noise.
There are many different types of sounds. For example, pink noise may help improve sleep quality without making you feel tired the next day.
Pink noise is more powerful than white noise at lower frequencies. This is because pink noise has a deeper sound. The power of each wave decreases as the frequency increases, as explained by Live Science.
For example, the sound of your heartbeat can be considered pink noise.
Higher frequencies characterize blue noise. This means that the power per hertz goes up as the frequency increases. In other words, blue noise is the opposite of pink noise. An example of blue noise would be the sound of a hissing water spray.
Different colors of noise have different uses. White and pink noise has therapeutic uses, but other colors don’t. These noises are used in audio engineering and other fields.
Not All Noise Is Bad
Why not try it out now that you know more about white noise and see how you feel?
It is not necessary to purchase a sleep machine right away. White noise recordings can be found on YouTube and other apps. However, keep in mind that not all sounds are white noise.
Set the machine to 80-85 dB if you decide to buy one. Only use it when absolutely necessary.
Best White Noise Machine
- Hatch Rest
- Sound + sleep
In the meantime, think about different strategies to obtain more sleep. This includes changing your sleep position or switching to a better mattress.
If you’re still wondering what white noise is or want to learn more about white noise machines, please contact us! Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or issues.
Read more: Types of White Noise and Other Sound Colors
Frequently Asked Questions about Benefits of White Noise
The continuous background noise, also known as white noise, comes from machines and other appliances and can harm your brain. It does so by overstimulating your auditory cortex– the part of the brain that helps us perceive sound. This is especially bad for children.
This may seem like basic sense to some, but heeding its advice is critical for your overall well-being. Too much white noise can be dangerous for both babies and adults because it can damage their ears. Make sure the volume of white noise is at a safe level for everyone.
You’re not supposed to use white noise all day long. Keep it in your back pocket to help you sleep or calm down. Hearing the normal hum of home for many hours a day helps children learn the different sounds around them, such as speech and music.
Noise-canceling headphones can raise the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Babies are exposed to excessive noise when these machines are played at a high intensity for an extended period. This can damage their ears, which are still developing.
Suppose the noise exposure at work exceeds 85 decibels for eight hours. In that case, your employer must take safety measures to protect you.
Every auditory frequency is included in white noise. That means it can successfully ‘cover up’ any noise by simply drowning it out with the same frequencies.
Some people find that silence is beneficial for sleep. Others find that noise-masking, white noise, or pink noise helps them fall asleep easier or get better sleep. Either way, this is good news!
Some people find that listening to white noise before bed can help them prepare their minds and bodies for sleep. The sound of white noise may also help reduce anxiety in people who worry a lot at night.
White noise can help you sleep better, but too much of it might keep you awake and prevent you from obtaining a full night’s sleep. This is because too much white noise can cause you to move around and switch between different sleep stages more often than usual.
Do not stop using white noise after you leave the fourth trimester. Baby sleep can fall apart in those later months after the calming reflex fades away.
Exposure to loud and damaging sounds and white noise can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus.
Some noise machines create sounds too loud for adults and potentially damage infants’ hearing. This could hinder their auditory development.