Health

Pink Noise—Can It Help You Sleep Better?

With rest and relaxation being hailed as the foundation of good health, many people are turning to white or pink noise to sleep better. From getting restful sleep to improving your memory, here’s why using pink sounds for sleep might just be what you need.

By Shreya Maji
27 January 2022

Do you find yourself falling asleep easily on rainy nights? This is because the quiet, rhythmic sounds of rain, when not accompanied by thunder, often act as a lullaby for your brain, not only allowing you to drift off faster, but also get better sleep. Rain is a natural example of pink noise—a sound made of consistent frequencies that create a flat or even type of noise, and can block out any disturbing background sounds.
Examples of pink noise include natural sounds like falling rain, sounds of waves crashing on the beach, leaves rustling in a forest or water flowing over rocks. As far as sonic colours go, you might be more familiar with white noise, which is a steady, humming sound created by all frequencies audible to the human ear. But because of its intensity, true white noise such as the whirring of a vacuum or the static from a radio can often be annoying to some people. Pink noise, which makes use of deep, low frequencies of sound, can be more relaxing and beneficial for your brain. While you can invest in a noise machine to play pink sounds for sleep, accessing pink noise need not cost you any money: music and video streaming platforms like YouTube and Spotify contain hours long loops of relaxing pink noise, which you can play on your smartphone or computer.

 

Related Story: 3 Habits for Getting Better Sleep

 

How Pink Noise Helps Sleep, Memory and More

 

  • Acts as a sleep aid
    While you are sleeping, your brain continues to receive and process different kinds of sounds from your environment. Jarring background sounds like the honking of a car or the barking of a dog can disturb your sleep and jolt you awake. When you make use of pink noise to sleep, it helps to filter out background noise that can disrupt your sleep, allowing you to sleep restfully.
  • Improves deep sleep
    A study published in 2017 in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience showed that using pink sounds for sleep greatly improved slow-wave sleep in adults. Slow-wave sleep, or deep sleep, is the most essential stage that you need to feel rested. A study published in 2012 in the Journal of Theoretical Biology points to the reason: pink noise reduces brain wave activity due to its soothing nature, which makes it easier for you to reach the deep sleep stage.

  • Can help improve your memory
    Slow-wave sleep is connected to memory consolidation. During slow-wave or deep sleep, the information that you gathered throughout the day in your hippocampus (part of your brain responsible for temporary memory) is transferred to your cortex and stored as long-term memories. A study published in Sleep Medicine in 2016 shows that playing pink noise in the background while sleeping can aid this process, especially in older adults.
  • Can increase your productivity
    If external sounds are distracting you from your work, pink noise might come in handy. Due to its consistent, calming nature, it can help you tune out other background noises, which will eliminate mental distractions and improve your focus. Moreover, it is also pleasant to listen to for hours at a time without being disruptive, which many people find conducive for long hours of work or studying.

 

Related Story: Six Easy Ways to Make Your Home Office More Productive

 

 

Worth It or Overhyped?

 

The scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests that pink noise might be exactly what you need as a sleeping aid, and to improve your memory and focus. The type of music that can help you relax or focus can be highly personal. While some people work or sleep better with white or pink noise, others might prefer instrumentals or songs as ambient sounds. Experiment with different types of white and pink noise until you find one that works for you.

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