What Exactly Is White Noise And How Does Help You Sleep?

Some people are lucky enough to fall asleep in spite of all the noise in the background. Others are not so fortunate.  If you are a light sleeper you may find that even the smallest sound will wake you up and disrupt your sleep. When this goes on for days, it can affect your health [1] by making you feel groggy, irritable, and even tired throughout the day. If you are looking for a way to alleviate this, then introducing white noise at bedtime may just be the solution that you are looking for. What is white noise, anyway? Let’s find out.

What Does White Nose Sound Like?

White Noise

Most of us associate the white noise with the static sounds accompanied by snow screen [2], that an older television makes when there’s no signal.

When we hear this sound, we often want to turn it off as soon as possible because it can be quite loud. But did you know that white noise [3] (at a comfortable sound level) may actually help you sleep?

This may sound surprising but a lot of people who are having a hard time getting a good night’s sleep make use of a white noise generator to induce sleep.


White Noise Origins

White Noise Origins

White noise technology was discovered [4] in the late 1800’s by scientists like Thomas Edison. In fact, Edison is the first person in the world to ever hear playback of recorded sound. The year was 1877.

The term white noise was coined from an earlier derivative pertaining to illumination by electricity called white light which is basically a combination of different colors.

White noise, therefore, is a combination of various frequencies that our ear can actually recognize and hear. Since it isn’t feasible to synthesize all the sounds in one, white noise is actually the signal created when several frequencies are combined.


White Noise All Around Us

White Noise All Around Us

Since white noise includes all audible frequencies, there are many instances when we may hear white noise sounds in the environment without noticing.

For example, if you’ve ever attended a sporting event at a stadium, the soft buzzing sounds emanating from thousands of spectators at once is, in fact, white noise.

White noise can also be heard as a sound of steady rainfall [5] pelting down on the roofs and pavement outside your window.


How White Noise Helps You Sleep

How White Noise Helps You Sleep

How does white noise help you fall asleep [6]? As mentioned before, some people tend to wake up easily when their ears perceive a disruptive sound.

On the other hand, white noise creates a sound-masking effect so that there is a steady background of noise. The idea is that this masking effect [7] helps prevent other sounds from stirring one’s consciousness awake.

There are many white noise apps if a sound machine is not available. These apps make it easy to play steady background noise and prevent distractions while you fall asleep.




Benefits of White Noise

Benefits of White Noise

There are some interesting benefits that are associated with white noise. Here are a few you should know about.

Makes babies feel relaxed –

Babies are no stranger to white noise. They were already exposed to it while they were in the womb of their mothers. If your baby tends to wake up with the slightest noise, introducing white noise may help them sleep longer even when there are other sounds at play.

Masks tinnitus –

White noise may actually help mask the sound of tinnitus or the ringing in your ear. Those who have tinnitus sometimes find that playing white noise helps them fall asleep better at night.

White Noise Conclusion

White noise has the ability to block other sounds that tend to disturb you when you sleep. Just make sure that it is at a reasonable level.
Whether you are aiming for pure white noise or generated sounds, this type of noise can be useful to help you get a good night’s rest.

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[1]   National Center For Biotechnology Information; Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem, 2006.
[2]   Paul Saffo; Save that old TV – there’s a message in the “snow”, June 17, 2009.
[3]   Science Direct; The influence of white noise on sleep in subjects exposed to ICU noise, Michael L.Stanchina, MuhannedAbu-Hijleh, Bilal K.Chaudhry, Carol C.Carlisle, Richard P.Millman, December 12, 2004.
[4]   Noise Colors; The Science behind Noise Colors.
[5]   Live Science; What Is White Noise?, Joseph Castro, July 23, 2013.
[6]   Popular Science; Why Does White Noise Help People Sleep?, Colin Lecher, February 17, 2014.
[7]   Huffington Post; Why Noise Could Be The Secret To Better Sleep