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What Is Pink Noise & Can It Help You With A Good Night’s Sleep?

People use sound to knock off external disturbances so they can sleep well. While you may be aware of white noise (steady, static-like sounds), you may not have heard about pink noise. Often considered as a more relaxing noise than white noise, Pink Noise contains a random assortment of all the audible frequencies, with more power in lower frequencies. Read on to learn more about pink noise and how it helps us with a good night’s sleep.

What Is Pink Noise?

If you’re struggling with stress and anxiety, you’re not alone. While I undergo a lot of tossing and turning before I can finally get my Zzzs, the use of Pink Noise has definitely helped me. If you’re not aware, noises exist on a colourful spectrum. While white noise is the most common method for sound sleep, pink noise seems to be a more effective and relaxing noise to help your get that beauty sleep.

Pink Noise is a sound that includes a “random assortment of all the audible frequencies, mostly targeting the lower frequencies”. Pink Noise contains the same overall intensity in each octave, but think of it like this, the volume of those individual pitches decreases by 3 decibels with each higher octave.

A person of science would understand that another name for pink noise is 2/f noise, which means its “power is inversely related to its frequency”. As compared to white noise, pink noise is considered to be more relaxing. Have you ever heard the sound of rain? Well, that’s just one example of pink noise.

Difference Between Pink Noise And White Noise

Without going into many technicalities, let us consider white noise as the sound of a whirring fan, radio or television static, vacuum, or humming air conditioner. On the other hand, pink noise can be understood as the sound of rustling leaves, ocean waves or the sound of rain.

Even though there isn’t much research on their comparison, it can be concluded that white noise is more static than pink noise. But again, pink noise is often associated with relaxing sounds that help with better sleep.

It uses “deeper sounds and lower sound waves”, therefore, pink noise is considered more soothing. In simple terms, pink noise has a lower pitch than white noise. FYI, other sonic hues include brown noise, blue noise, violet noise and grey noise.

How Does Pink Noise Help With Sleep?

To understand pink noise better, look around at the sounds of nature. From wind and rain to many songs or segments of speech, everything contains pink noise. Many researchers have observed patterns associated with pink noise in birdsong and shockingly, even in some urban soundscapes.

Wondering how it’s more effective than white noise? Well, pink noise is used as a background or control noise, so it’s less distracting than other types of noise. For instance, in one study, it was found that people were less stressed after listening to pink noise, compared to white noise.

Pink noise can put you to sleep no matter how stressed or anxious you are. More importantly, it does not have any strong side effects if played at a reasonable volume. So yes, steady pink noise helps us attain a sound sleep by masking other disturbing sounds. Per a previous study, playing pink noise at 60 decibels helps people fall asleep faster.

Let me quote research by Jeu Zhang, associate professor at China’s Peking University. He studied the effect of pink noise on people’s sleep. Zhang recruited 50 participants, and they were either exposed to no noise or pink noise during their daytime naps and night sleep. Thereafter, Zhang monitored their brain activity to find out how it affected the brain.

The result of this study was: “Stable, restful sleep increased more than 23% among the nighttime sleepers exposed to pink noise. It increased by more than 45% in nappers. More than 75% of the participants reported better sleep when exposed to pink noise. Zhang revealed that sound plays a major role in “brain wave synchronization” and “brain activity” while you’re asleep.

The National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information, provides extensive research material on pink noise. Several studies have confirmed that pink noise helps enhance sleep quality. It came out that “participants’ brain waves gradually slowed in synchrony with a pink noise soundtrack, helping stabilize their sleep”.

From providing deep sleep to proper immune system functioning, pink noise holds several benefits. It also has favourable effects on stress hormone levels and cardiovascular health. It has been concluded that it also increases sleep spindle (small bursts of activity in the brain which help block out external stimuli during sleep) density. Recent research even suggests that pulses of pink noise help diminish chronic pain.

Pro Tips On Pink Noise

Sleep expert Michelle Drerup, PsyD, DBSM. recommends that pink noise works okay for everyone, but if anyone is living with hearing loss or is sensitive to sounds, then the person would find this kind of noise a bit frustrating. But again, it’s got no side effects if the person opts to listen to it.

Many people have raised questions if pink noise should be heard on earbuds or noise machines. Dr. Drerup explains that “comfort and personal preference should be your guide”. Some people prefer headphones that are like headbands, and it’s okay to look for your comfort.

“There’s also no hard-and-fast rule regarding volume. “Some people might like it a little louder. For others, softer is better,” she stated. Pink noise can be accessed in sound machines, downloadable apps (some are free), and videos available on YouTube.

However, Dr Drerup also recommends that pink noise isn’t a magic bullet to cure bad sleep hygiene. “You need to make sure you get enough hours of sleep, have a consistent sleep schedule and don’t overdo it on caffeine. If you’re having difficulties sleeping, it’s not usually a one-trick pony that’s going to help you,” she recommends.

Some studies found that “steady, rhythmic pink noise regulates and slows your brain waves”. This noise results in a very deep, restful sleep. If you’re looking for an effective product, you may buy SoundOff which is a patented small, in-ear headphone set. The product is the only noise-masking earbuds that use pink noise to improve the sleep quality of customers. You can find more about this product here.

I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.


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