Are you the type of person who is easily awoken in the night and doesn’t feel particularly rested come morning? While white noise can help you drift off, the lesser-known pink noise helps to improve the quality of your sleep once you’ve nodded off. Pink noise has been gaining attention this year, not just for its on-trend name but its ability enhance the brain’s memory and concentration too. There are so many unanswered questions, however—why is it called “pink noise,” how does it differ from white noise and what does it even sound like anyway?
Thankfully we’ve got all the answers, so keep scrolling to unlock the secret to a great night’s sleep.
The Difference Between White Noise and Pink Noise
You’ve probably heard of white noise (think the monotonous drone of an air-conditioning unit). White noise is a combination of different sounds that create one consistent sound that, according to Popular Science, “comes out evenly across all hearable frequencies.” It’s called white noise because when various coloured lights combine they shine white. Because white noise is good at cutting through the hustle and bustle, it’s used for the signals in emergency vehicles.
Its ability to mask all other noise has historically made it a handy sleep aid. Those household annoying noises—that faulty dripping tap or ticking clock—are drowned out by other noises during the day, but when things quiet down come nighttime, they become pronounced and seriously irritating… That’s where white noise comes to the rescue. So if white noise is the answer to drowning out sleep-stalling sounds, why do we need pink noise?
Pink noise, according to PureWow, is “a balanced, steady mix of high and low frequencies.” (It gets its name because light of the same frequency appears pink.) Where white noise is a constant drone, pink noise is far more pleasant to listen to—think heavy rain or rustling leaves, and the benefits come into play once you’ve drifted off.
Keep scrolling to listen to pink noise and to find out its benefits.
The Benefits of Pink Noise
Various studies have identified that pink noise can help people achieve deeper sleep. One study followed 13 elderly adults over two nights and found that their “deep sleep patterns increased when pink noise was played intermittently throughout the night.”
Another study found that playing pink noise while people slept prolonged a portion of sleep known as slow wave sleep, which has been linked to our brain’s memory function. After a night sleeping in a room with pink noise playing, subjects remembered 22 word pairings versus just 13 after a night with no pink noise. Memory-boosting indeed.
And it doesn’t just help with sleep quality and memory. Pink noise was found to boost concentration when played in offices.
Download the Sleep and Noise Sounds app (free)—it has pink- and white-noise options.
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