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Sound, Color, and Sleep - What Are The Different Colors of Noise

Sound, Color, and Sleep - What Are The Different Colors of Noise

August 22, 2020 / Patrick Zavorskas

Have you ever had a hard time falling asleep? Well, I definitely have. The truth is, there have been countless nights that I have found myself tossing and turning, or staring up at the ceiling trying to count sheep in order to hopefully drift off. I find that the older I get, the more these nights seem to happen. We all have things that stress us out - for some, this comes with the lingering anxiety of what the next day will bring. "What work needs to be accomplished? Did I do everything at work I needed to do?" For others, this comes with more of a societal based stress, being concerned with the global and cultural matters going on within our world. Whatever the reason, it is important to know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30% of American adults don’t get enough sleep each night.

I have tried almost everything to ensure I get a goodnight's sleep - I've tried sleep aids, different medications to try to sleep, finding no success. I used aromatherapy but found that the smell would sometimes be too overwhelming when trying to fall asleep. I even tried to listen to ambient music and sounds. It wasn't until my partner had suggested listening to Pink Noise, did anything actually work. 

Curious as to what exactly Pink Noise is? We've got the guide for you! Sit back, listen up, as this is our guide for the different colors of noise!

What Exactly Is Pink Noise?

When it comes to the color of noise, it is said that it is determined by the energy of the sound signal. Specifically, it depends on how energy is distributed over various frequencies, or the speed of sound. Pink noise consists of all the frequencies we can hear, but the energy isn’t equally distributed across them. It’s more intense at lower frequencies, which creates a deep sound helpful for sleep. 

In our everyday life, nature itself is full of pink noise, including:

  • rustling leaves
  • steady rain
  • wind
  • heartbeats

To the human ear, pink noise sounds “flat” or “even" when listening to it. There are several man-made pink noise creations that can be listened to at any time. 

How Can Pink Noise Help With Sleep?

Since your brain continues to process sounds as you sleep, different noises can actually affect how well you rest. As we know, some noises like honking cars, sirens, and barking dogs can stimulate your brain and disrupt sleep. Other sounds can relax your brain and promote better sleep. These sleep-inducing sounds are known as noise sleep aids.

Pink noise has potential as a sleep aid. In a small 2012 study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, researchers found that steady pink noise reduces brain waves, which increases stable sleep. In another study released in 2017 by the Frontiers in Human Neurosciencea positive link was found between pink noise and deep sleep. Deep sleep is what is needed to support memory and helps you feel refreshed in the morning.

It is important to note, however, that there isn’t a lot of scientific research on pink noise. There’s more evidence on the benefits of white noise for sleep. More research is needed to understand how pink noise can improve the quality and duration of sleep.

How Does Pink Noise Compare To Other Noises

It should first be noted that sound has many colors. As said, these color noises, or sonic hues, depend on the intensity and distribution of energy. There is a rainbow of color noises, including:

White Noise

White noise includes all audible frequencies. Energy is equally distributed across these frequencies, unlike the energy in pink noise. The equal distribution creates a steady humming sound. White noise examples include:

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

Since white noise contains all frequencies at equal intensity, it can mask loud sounds that stimulate your brain. That’s why it’s often recommended for sleeping difficulties and sleep disorders. 

Brown Noise

Brown noise, also called red noise, has higher energy at lower frequencies. This makes it deeper than pink and white noise. Examples of brown noise include:

  • low roaring
  • strong waterfalls
  • thunder

Though brown noise is deeper than white noise, they sound similar to the human ear. There isn’t enough hard research to support the effectiveness of brown noise for sleep. But according to anecdotal evidence, the deepness of brown noise can induce sleep and relaxation.

The Bottom-Line

There’s some evidence pink noise can reduce brain waves and promote sleep, but more research is necessary. It also isn’t a quick fix. Good sleep habits, like following a schedule and limiting naps, are still important. If changing your sleep habits doesn’t work, talk to your doctor. They can help you determine the best approach for getting quality sleep.

Let us know if you will try pink noise for sleep by tagging us on Instagram @itouchwearables and Facebook @itouchwearables. Also, be sure to check out our new articles published daily and the latest styles on!


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