Not just the fuzzy sounds from your old school TVs, more and more people are discovering the benefits of white noise for sleep. We’ve brought in Ludovic Chung-Sao, founder of ZenSoundproof, to teach us all about the benefits of white noise.
Having a good night’s sleep is essential to your health and wellbeing. If you’ve ever struggled to fall asleep, you know that one of the major factors is noise. Many sleep experts have called white noise a great way to help people sleep better. But what exactly is it, and is it good for you?
What exactly is white noise?
White noise is a mix of sounds at various frequencies played at the same intensity. This mix generates the traditional ‘shhhh’ noise that sounds like radio static.
White noise creates a sound blanket, which dampens any consistency changes. Sharp, sudden sounds, like a door slamming, aren’t disruptive because they’re loud. They’re disruptive because they change the consistency of noise. That’s why it can be easy to fall asleep to music but much harder to fall asleep to the radio, where the DJ cuts in.
Many people associate various noise profiles with different colours.
For instance, pink noise has more intense low tones and milder high tones. This mix of frequencies sounds softer, and many people find it more pleasant than white noise. It may even offer better sleep benefits than white noise. Others prefer the ‘splash of water’ feeling of blue noise. And some prefer the oblivion of black noise, also known as complete silence.
If you’re interested in using white noise to help you sleep, experiment with various noise colours using the MyNoisesound player. Everyone has different preferences, so play around until you find yours.
The effects of white noise on sleep
White noise for a better sleep
A study on infants in 1990 showed that white noise can help infants fall asleep faster. Since then, many people have studied the effects of white noise on sleep. One of those studies was led in an Intensive Care Unit and another on individuals living in a high noise environment. Both studies showed white noise helped to find and maintain sleep in areas prone to sudden, disruptive noises.
Not all sunshine and roses
While white noise may feel soothing, noise machines can actually be too loud. A study showed prolonged exposure to white noise at a certain volume could be harmful. The global recommendation of max volume sets 50 dB as a limit. The same study found that noise emission below 50 dB was safe to prevent any adverse effects on babies’ auditory development. It also concluded that an exposition on adults of 8 hours of noise above 85 dB might induce hearing loss.
Luckily, good white noise machines have volume control and a timer to avoid prolonged exposure during sleep.
When to use white noise
White noise is a useful tool in assisting sleep in some instances. Before you rush out to buy a white noise machine, consider the reason for your insomnia.
White noise works best if you live in a busy area with lots of interruptions. It can also help if you have a snoring partner. Play around with the volume settings to ensure that you’re not doing more harm than good. If you only need help to fall asleep and are a deep sleeper otherwise, you can even set your white noise machine to only work for an hour or two before automatically shutting off.
White noise can help you get a good night’s sleep, but it only addresses one issue: sudden, disruptive noises. While it can drown out other ambient noises, it’s not clear that there are any other health benefits to using a white noise machine. Luckily, there are low-cost alternatives that are arguably healthier long-term solutions.
Soundproofing your bedroom
Soundproofing prevents any noise from entering your bedroom. It helps remove ambient traffic noise, as well as dampen any sudden disruptions. Even better, it can also block indoor noises, such as noisy kids or someone getting too excited at the TV.
Dedicated soundproofing doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, soundproof curtains and soundproof windows can do wonders to reduce incoming noises.
Accessible for all
No matter your budget or DIY skill, there’s a solution that can help you sleep better. White noise can be a tool in your arsenal, but it shouldn’t be the only one. In short, it is a healthy way to find sleep as long as you respect the recommendations of volume. If not, a timer has your back to prevent any lengthy exposure.
About the Author
Ludovic Chung-Sao is the founder of ZenSoundproof, a blog dedicated to assisting people who want to turn their home into a peace haven. After living in an old house with thin walls and the noises of other people’s movements keeping him awake at night, Ludovic used earplugs to sleep. This lead to the discovery of incredible sleep from the silence, and the ZenSoundproof blog was created for people who want to bring mindful habits and silence into their daily spaces.