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How Can Noise Color Improve Your Sleep?


Almost a third of American adults struggle every morning because we don’t get enough quality sleep. A common issue amongst the sleep deprived is the challenge of not being able to fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time. Every little noise, light, blanket imperfection, etc. begins to add to the mounting frustration that we are STILL AWAKE long after our scheduled bedtime. As a result, we are constantly on a quest for tips, tricks and tools that can support our sleep health.

One tool that has provided sleep aid for many, is the addition of white noise to their sleep routine. You’ve probably used the term when referring to a sound in the background - think television static or the whirring of a fan. However, white noise isn’t the only noise that may be able to help you get a good night’s rest. Pink noise, brown noise and black noise can impact your sleep - the key is understanding which works for you and how to incorporate it into your nightly routine.

White noise is a noise that contains all frequencies across the range of audible sound with equal intensities. It is the equal distribution that creates a steady humming sound. This effect can mask loud sounds that stimulate your brain and why its traditionally recommended for sleeping difficulties and disorders. Examples of white noise include:

  • whirring fan
  • radio or television static
  • hissing radiator
  • humming air conditioner

Pink noise is deeper than white noise. Its has a louder low-frequency and softer high frequency sound. Studies have shown that pink noise can help reduce brain waves and increase stable sleep. Examples of pink noise include:

  • waterfall
  • steady rainfall
  • ocean waves hitting the shore
  • wind blowing through trees

Brown noise (less commonly known as red noise) is even louder at lower frequencies, making it deeper than both pink and white noise. Brown noise increases relaxation by eliminating the higher pitch sounds. Examples of brown noise include:

  • thunder
  • strong waterfall
  • Heavy rainfall

Black noise is a term used to refer to a lack of noise. It is complete silence or mostly silent with random bits of noise. Although it may be difficult to create complete silence, it can help some feel the most relaxed and assist with sleep.

The first step in identifying which type of noise will work to support your sleep is trying them out. Although there are many white noise machines on the market, most do only play white noise. To sample different types, an app is a better option. Noise Machine, Noise Generator and Brown Noise offer white, pink and brown noise.

Take note of the effect that each type of noise has on you. Your brain may respond to the louder low frequency characteristics of pink noise, so your preference could be to listen to a strong wind blowing through the trees. Incorporate your noise preference into your nighttime routine - once you’re in your sleep environment, set your alarm, arrange your pillows, turn on your noise app, and turn off the lights!