What is pink noise and can it really help you sleep

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As you get older, it may become harder to fall asleep and to stay asleep. This can make it more difficult to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Some people use a sound machine or play a steady background noise to help with their sleep. While many people think of white noise, there may be a better alternative.

Like white noise, pink noise is a steady background sound that may help to improve your sleep. However, unlike white noise, which can sound static-like or high pitched, pink noise blocks out distracting noises with a gentler and smoother sound.

Pink noise, also known as ambient noise, uses lower soundwaves and a consistent frequency to create a deeper, steady noise. This is thought to create a more relaxing sound, comparable to waves on the beach or steady rainfall.

While this soundwave structure is often used to equalise and test loudspeakers in auditoriums, it has also been used in some workplaces to help block out distracting high pitch frequencies and improve concentration and productivity. Some preliminary evidence also suggests that listening to pink noise at night may improve your memory and the quality of your sleep. 

Will pink noise help you sleep?
Pink noise may help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, helping you to feel more rested. It helps to block out high-pitch noises such as car horns or snoring that can keep you awake.

While there isn’t yet extensive evidence for the effectiveness of pink noise, some preliminary studies suggest it may help. One study found that it can help you to sleep more deeply, and another found that it contributed to a more stable sleep by lowering brain activity. One study also found that older adults who used pink noise at night performed better on memory tests the following day.

While more research is needed into the benefits of pink noise, there are no known downsides, and possible benefits may include improved focus, memory and sleep.

How to use pink noise
Different volumes, tracks and sounds may be better for different people, so don’t be afraid to try a range of them before you find the right one for you.

There are a number of places you can find pink noise recordings.

  • Use a noise generator or sound machine that uses pink noise.
  • Download a pink noise audio clip from YouTube. You can find a range of long audio clips, similar to this one, free online.

  • Download a pink noise app on your smartphone and play it while you sleep. Some people choose to use headphones or earbuds, while other choose to play pink noise through a speaker or radio.

To maximise the positive effects of pink noise, ensure you have healthy and consistent sleeping habits. Exercising during the day has been shown to improve sleep. This could be anything from walking, swimming, weightlifting to gardening. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed and sleeping in a darkened room can also help you get to sleep faster. Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time each morning is essential to building a regular sleep schedule.

Do you find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep? Have you tried using white or pink noise to help improve the quality of your sleep?

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Written by Liv Gardiner


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