Sleeping is very important for our overall health for it boosts your immunity, strengthen your heart, improves memory and much more. However, sleep may not come easily for some people who are sensitive to noise or have insomnia. There are many ways to make sleep easier, but one of the tried and tested ways is to adjust the noise in your bedroom.
Here are the wide variety of noises you can put on for easier sleep:
White noise is the combination of all noise frequencies, which are effective on cancelling other noise in the background. Its noise is akin to consistent sounds like air conditioner, air purifier, ticking of the clock, static sounds on cable TV to an unused channel and more. However, many studies have mentioned that it is effective with people experiencing difficulty sleeping. It has been greatly known to treat insomnia and regularize the sleeping patterns. A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine, researchers at Brown University Medical School found that patients in a hospital intensive care unit awakened less frequently during the night with white noise present, because it decreased the difference between background noise and the “peak” noises that punctuated the hospital’s noise environment. But, Montgomery-Downs warns, be wary of white noise apps, which can cause auditory nerve damage, especially for folks who use headphones or have sensitive hearing.
While white noise has already been popular, pink noise is the new ‘it’ sound that has gained popularity. The difference between white and pink noise is that pink noise creates a balance of high and low frequency sounds, mimicking sounds found in nature. Such sounds are more similar to sounds found in nature such as rustling leaves, rain droplets, wind blowing, brook babbling and more. As it has more power in the lower frequency bands compared to white noise, those strong bass tones make it sound less harsh to the human ear. Other than that, a study published in The Journal of Theoretical Biology have discovered that people who sleep with pink noise spend more time in deep, slow-wave sleep which means they sleep more soundly. A recent study by scientists at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, found that pink noise exposure at night led to better memory recall.
The sound of the ocean is also one of the noises that can lead you to a deeper sleep. For some people, the rhythmic crashing of water onto sand and rock can have meditative effects. This in turn creates a mental state of relaxation, contentment and gentle focus. Dr. Orfeu Buxton, an associate professor of behavioral health at Penn State University who was interviewed by Livescience described how the noises of oceans could create such an effect, “These slow, whooshing noises are the sounds of non-threats, which is why they work to calm people, “Buxton explained. “It’s like they’re saying: ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry.’”
Source: Johnnie Lawson
As the ocean is the tidal wave crashing into sand and rock, water sounds that include light rain showers or the flow of water can also be soothing to listen to before going to sleep. What makes water sounds so calming when we head to bed is the relatively gentle, gradual variations in the intensity of moving water sounds. Since it also includes varying intensity of noises, it drowns out the presence of jarring noises that could bother your sleep according to Buxton and fellow researchers found in their 2012 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Despite the effectivity of pink, white noises and such as found by research, effectivity varies from one person to the other. One such example is nature sounds (noises of the woods and the wilderness), which scientists at Britain’s University of Sussex had participants listen to recordings of nature sounds and artificial sounds, while measuring their brain and nervous system activity. Those who listened to nature sounds had more outward-focused attention in the brain, where nervous systems become more relaxed rather than inward-focused attention that is associated with states of anxiety, stress, and depression which could be detrimental to your sleep.
Other than noises of nature, music can also be an alternative that will get you to sleep soundly. But not all music creates this effect and only soothing songs with slow rhythms, ranging between 60 to 80 beats per minute. Music in itself is effective, as long as it also does not have lyrics that keep your mind active. Instead, try classical, folk, ambient, or slow-paced contemporary styles. Classic music is, by far the most popular choice so we recommend that you try out several just to know if it suits you:
- Beethoven, Moonlight Sonata
- Bill Evans, Peace Piece
- Mozart, Concerto for Flute and Harp
- Holst, Venus the Bringer of Peace
- Chopin, Nocturne №2
- Ravel, Piano Concerto in G major
- J.S.Bach, Prelude №1
- Massenet, Meditation
The benefits of listening to music before you sleep are numerous, from lowering blood pressure, lowering heart rate, soothing anxiety, and quiet a racing mind. Research by scientists at Hungary’s Semmelweis University found that listening to classical music before and during sleep helped improve sleep quality in young adults with sleep problems.
Other than pink and white noise, there is also black noise. Black noise can be defined as no noise at all throughout all frequencies but with sudden, unpredictable rise. This forces the mind to focus on the sudden and subtle transformation between sound and sleep, which then helps the brain relax. It is easy to find black noise playlists on YouTube, Spotify, and iTunes however you need to be aware that black noise is not for everybody. The reason is because sudden sound interruptions throughout the night might become bothersome for some people rather than helpful. It requires a lot of focus and a deep meditative state for sleeping with black noise.
Brown noise has been compared to have less frequency compared to white noise and pink noise. Other than that, it’s also thought to be a deeper version of pink noise, with even more bass tones and low-frequency concentrated energy. It therefore sounds dampened compared to white noise but somehow stronger, which sounds similar to a hard ocean surf during a storm or the rumble of a brass instrument humming a low note. What is interesting about brown noise is that it’s not named after a color, but instead for its similarity to the Brownian motion, the random and speedy movement of particles in liquid.
Studies have shown that other than helping you sleep, some other benefits of brown noise are increasing reading comprehension, improving focusing power and more. In fact, many people play brown noise in the background while studying as well to concentrate better. Unfortunately, brown noise can be hard to hear for some people unless they use noise-cancelling earphones or headphones. This poses a problem in which some people find it difficult to fall asleep with earphones or headphones on as it leads to headaches. In this case, you will have to find a way that works the best for you like placing the speakers right next to your pillow.
Blue noise, on the other hand is mostly concentrated at the high-frequency end, with very few deep tones to balance it out. As such, blue noise is akin to the hiss of a kinked water hose. It all depends on the person listening to blue noise as those who are not sensitive to high-pitched sounds will enjoy this the most, due to blue noise doing a great job of heavily masking outside noises. Putting it on too loudly is not good either as it sounds harsh, but audio engineers often use blue noise for dithering, a process where they intentionally add noise to a production, such as a song remix to smooth out the sound of the song.
As far and high we go to look for sounds that help us go to sleep, sometimes it’s best to go back to basics. In this case, listening to another human voice. There are many versions which you can apply this from having a close friend reciting the instructions in a muscle relaxation demo, guided relaxation and meditation programs to apps with soothing voices that can lull you to sleep. It’s not really the content that matters but rather the intonation. And if you want to preserve the real thing, it’s not a bad idea to record your parents’ voices now.
What type of noise calms you down the most? Tell us in the comments section below!