White noise can be a blessing for people desperate for a good night’s sleep. It can also be used to reduce the ringing-in-the-ear symptoms of tinnitus
. But what exactly is white noise, how can we use it, and how does it help you relax?
What is White Noise?
White noise are sounds used to mask other naturally occurring sounds in your environment. It is similar to the sound of a bedroom fan running in the background, an air conditioner or to the sound of a radio tuned to an unused frequency.
It has equal power across all sound ranges so it’s quite monotonous - it helps your brain ignore high-pitched, or other unpleasant sounds.
Due to its soothing properties, white noise is also used in hypnosis.
How can white noise help you relax?
Silence in the city is a distant dream. From traffic to construction sites and your neighbour’s music, your hearing is processing so much auditory information that it’s tough to calm your system down.
Have you ever run a fan at night to cover the noise? You created your very own sound machine to cancel out some of the unwanted sounds and help you drift off to sleep.
What are the health benefits of white noise?
White noise can help to:
- reduce stress
- increase focus
- soothe headaches and migraines
- mask tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
How do sound waves create different types of noise?
If you could take apart a sound wave, you would find two main parts:
- frequency, which is how fast the waveform is vibrating per second, and
- amplitude, which indicates the size of the waves.
The names of noise types are based on a loose analogy to the colours of light. White noise contains all the audible frequencies (all the noises we can hear), and white light contains all the frequencies we can see.
What is pink, brown, blue and violet noise?
White noise can be divided into other noise colours depending on the intensity and frequency range.
Pink noise has less higher frequencies than white noise. It’s louder at the low-frequency end of the spectrum and softer at the higher end. Listening to pink noise while you sleep can improve your memory the next day.
Brown noise is stronger and deeper at the low end without the high-frequency sounds of pink and white noise. It can help you relax, focus and improve sleep.
Blue noise is sometimes considered high-frequency white noise. It is a noise colour with a spectral density (power per hertz) proportionate to its frequency. Blue noise gets louder as frequency increases.
Violet noise (also known as purple noise) increases in volume at higher frequencies. It works well in blocking some higher frequency sounds associated with tinnitus
What is a white noise machines?
You can buy a white noise machine online to help you sleep and study. The soothing sounds should improve sleep quality, reduce stress, increase focus, soothe headaches and migraines, and mask tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
How does white noise work?
There are several explanations for why white noise works.
One theory is that the louder the environment, the less sensitive the ears become. For example, a dripping tap is more likely to bother you at night than during the day when other noises mask it. White noise raises the sensitivity threshold again, so you can’t hear the dripping tap or other sounds anymore.
Another theory is that the brain is always on the lookout for sound stimuli. The steady, monotonous white noise "occupies" the brain, without overwhelming it
What are white noise apps?
Many people report positive results using free versions of white noise apps like White Noise Lite app, which produces white or pink noise (available for Android and Apple).
White Noise apps do an excellent job of masking bothersome background sounds and creating an ambient environment. Most apps include:
- a range of colour noises (brown, white, pink)
- mechanical sounds like a bedroom fan or air conditioner
- light to heavy rain
- rushing water sounds
- beach and ocean waves.
Turn on the app at night and let it play in the background as you drift off to sleep.