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Have you ever had a hard time falling asleep? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
Lack of sleep can make it difficult to focus at work or school. It can also negatively impact your mental and physical health over time.
Often, white noise is recommended for sleep troubles, but it’s not the only noise that can help. Other sonic hues, like pink noise, may also improve your sleep.
Keep reading to learn about the science behind pink noise, how it compares to other color noises, and how it might help you get a good night’s rest.
The color of noise 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 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.
Nature is full of pink noise, including:
- rustling leaves
- steady rain
To the human ear, pink noise sounds “flat” or “even.”
Since your brain continues to process sounds as you sleep, different noises can affect how well you rest.
Some noises, like honking cars 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. You can listen to them on a computer, smartphone, or sleep machine like a white noise machine.
Pink noise has potential as a sleep aid. In a small 2012 study in the
There isn’t a lot of scientific research on pink noise, though. There’s more evidence on the benefits of white noise for sleep. More research is needed to understand how pink noise can improve quality and duration of sleep.
Sound has many colors. These color noises, or sonic hues, depend on the intensity and distribution of energy.
There are many color noises, including:
Pink noise is deeper than white noise. It’s like white noise with a bass rumble.
However, compared to brown noise, pink noise isn’t as deep.
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 like insomnia.
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
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.
Black noise is an informal term used to describe lack of noise. It refers to complete silence or mostly silence with bits of random noise.
While it may be difficult to find complete silence, it can help you sleep at night. Some people feel most relaxed when there is little to no noise.
You can try pink noise for sleep by listening on your computer or smartphone. You can also find pink noise tracks on streaming services like YouTube.
Smartphone apps like NoiseZ also offer recordings of various noise colors.
Some sound machines play pink noise. Before buying a machine, make sure it plays the sounds you’re looking for.
The best way to use pink noise depends on your preferences. For example, you may feel more comfortable with ear buds instead of headphones. Others might prefer headphones or playing pink noise on a computer.
You may also need to experiment with the volume to find what works for you.
While pink noise can help you sleep, it’s not a miracle solution. Good sleep habits are still important for quality sleep.
To practice good sleep hygiene:
- Follow a sleep schedule. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on your days off.
- Avoid stimulants before bed. Nicotine and caffeine can keep you awake for several hours. Alcohol also disrupts your circadian rhythm and reduces quality sleep.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity during the day will help you feel tired at night. Avoid strenuous exercise a few hours before bed.
- Limit naps. Napping can also disrupt your sleep schedule. If you need to nap, limit yourself to 30 minutes or less.
- Be mindful of food intake. Avoid eating large meals a few hours before sleeping. If you’re hungry, eat a light snack like a banana or toast.
- Make a bedtime routine. Enjoy relaxing activities 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. Reading, meditating, and stretching can calm your body and brain.
- Turn off bright lights. Artificial lights suppress melatonin and stimulate your brain. Avoid light from lamps, smartphones, and TV screens an hour before bed.
Pink noise is a sonic hue, or color noise, that’s deeper than white noise. When you hear steady rain or rustling leaves, you’re listening to pink noise.
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.