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What Are Color Noises?

Yes, we all know but it’s always worth repeating: sleep is essential for the body and mind to rest and rejuvenate. A good night’s sleep can improve your mood, memory, and concentration levels along with your immune system and your metabolism! However, many factors can affect the quality of sleep, including noise.  Noise that’s random and variable can be disruptive to sleep (as we all know if we’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by a noisy neighbor!).  But there are some noises that can actually be beneficial to sleep.  This is where different color noises come into play.

White noise is a common term that most people are familiar with. It is a reference to a jumble of random sounds that includes all frequencies within the range of human hearing. White noise is often used to mask other sounds so it can be a very useful tool to drown out background noises when you are trying to sleep. That is why it is commonly used in sound machines and apps aimed to promote good sleep.

But white noise is not the only type of color noise. In fact, there are a few others that can be beneficial for sleep…

Pink noise is similar to white noise but has a lower frequency range. What that means is that it has a more even distribution of sound across different frequencies so it is often described as a soothing sound like rain. Studies have shown that listening to pink noise can improve deep sleep and memory consolidation. It can also improve focus and reduce stress levels, making it an excellent choice for those who struggle with sleep due to stress or anxiety (instead of those that struggle due to background noise).

Brown noise is a lower frequency sound that is often described as a deep rumble, similar to thunder. It has been shown to reduce brain wave activity and promote deep relaxation. For this reason, brown noise, similar to pink noise, is an excellent choice if your sleep problems are mostly associated with anxiety or stress and is often a good choice for those that struggle to fall asleep.

So, the type of noise you use for sleep really depends on your sleep issues.  If you are a light sleeper or wake often due to external noises, white noise is probably the best option for you.  If you want to mask background noise but also find stress and anxiety are impacting your sleep, pink noise should be your go-to.  And if you really need help with relaxation throughout the night, brown noise is probably the winner.

There are so many sound machines and apps out there nowadays, that you can experiment with each style of noise to see what the best fit is for you.  Whatever you decide, make sure you are using the noise consistently so that you establish a routine for your body to associate the noise with sleep.

In conclusion, different color noises can have a significant impact on sleep. Ultimately, it’s essential to find the type of noise that works best for you and your sleep needs.  Experiment with different types of noise and find the one that works best for you.

Need more help with sleep?  Check out my insomnia treatment program!

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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