Beyond white noise to sonic hues.
I keep hearing that getting the right amount of quality sleep is a key to good health. I certainly feel best after a good night’s sleep. A friend recommends that I listen to ‘brown noise’ when I sleep. Who knew that sound comes in colors? As always, this is not medical advice, but I thought you would want to know about some new sound apps and machines which might help lull you to sleep on those ‘toss and turn’ nights. Soothing background noise is sometimes recommended for tinnitus.
You have probably heard of ‘white noise’. It is a constant, soothing sound designed to mask the sudden changes in noises (including a snoring partner) which stimulate your brain and keep you awake. White noise has equal power across all the sound frequencies which are audible to the human ear. There are many options including gentle rain, ocean waves, and mild static. All the frequencies in white noise are equally intense and the energy is equally distributed across all frequencies.
Pink noise is similar to white noise with slightly reduced high frequencies and louder lower frequencies. It is said to be more soothing than white noise. Fan noises and the sound of a medium rainfall are examples of pink noise. There are claims that pink noise aids memory.
Brown noise includes lower frequencies than white and pink without the high frequencies. It is deeper than white noise; like a hard, steady rainfall, storm surf, a roaring river or a strong wind. There are claims that brown noise improves relaxation and focus – in addition to sleep.
The experts offer divergent advice on the use of any kind of noise to help with sleep. Some say that humans need to shut our auditory systems off at night in silence. Others say that anything that helps people ‘switch off’ their racing minds and get deep sleep is good. They all report that there is little scientific evidence for either position. People respond differently to different sonic hues, so maybe the best advice is to try a few and see if your sleep improves.
Before you relocate to a cabin beside a roaring river or a rain forest, there are several easy ways to introduce white, pink and brown noise to your bedroom – sound machines and apps for your phone.
This Sound+Sleep SE Special Edition, high fidelity sleep sound machine offers 64 sounds environments including real, non-looping, nature sounds, fan sounds, white, pink and brown noise, and adaptive sound technology which adjusts the volume in response to surrounding noise. You can layer several sounds on top of each other and have waves crashing and wind blowing. The optional sleep timer gently reduces the volume after 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes to allow you to drift off to sleep. Front panel lighting automatically dims for distraction-free rest. It has two USB charge points, 3.5mm audio input, and a 3.5mm audio output. Powered by AC wall power, 7.5” x 5.5” x 4.5”. Sound+Sleep Special Edition machine, $99.31.
Sound+Sleep MINI high fidelity sleep sound machines with AC and battery power, offer real 12 categories and 48 unique, non-looping, nature sounds, fan sounds and white, pink and brown noise. In black and white,
6” x 4.5” x 2.6”, powered by AC wall outlet, USB, or AA batteries (not included). Sound+Sleep MINI, $69.95.
This Sound+Sleep Home machine offers 30 unique sounds with white, pink and brown noise. Adaptive Sound technology listens to your environment and responds instantly by adjusting audio volume. The optional sleep timer gently reduces the volume after 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes to allow you to drift off to sleep. Front panel lighting automatically dims for distraction-free rest.
AC wall outlet. $70.00.
This LectroFan Evo White Noise Sound Machine offers twenty-two unique non-Looping fan and white, pink and brown noise sounds and a sleep timer. LectroFan Evo, $40.00.
The Yogasleep Dohm White Noise Machine offers soothing natural sounds based on the sound of a fan. Designed by Michael Graves. It operates at two speeds. Yogasleep Dohm, $49.95.
The Dreamegg D1 Pro Sound white noise machine is rechargeable with twenty-nine non-looping, HiFi Sounds and a nightlight. Sounds can be continuous or on a timer. 4.1 x 4.1 x 2.5 inches; 1.1 Pounds. Dreamegg D1,Pro Sound $49.99.
Here are two noise apps that are especially highly recommended. They offer a way to try noise of various hues without investing in a machine. You can play these sounds on your phone, through headphones or over a small speaker. You can connect them to Siri and Alexa.
My Noise is recommended by the Wirecutter and many other reviewers for sleep and for other situations in which background noise is distracting. It is versatile offering all audible sound frequencies which you can adjust – so you can opt for white, pink or brown noise – or the shades in between. It has nature sounds from a Japanese garden to rain on a tent and Irish Coast (Coastal wind noise, sea waves and rain combine into a powerful noise blocker and productivity booster). It can be played through earphones or on a speaker.
My Noise for Apple/iOS Free with in-app purchases available.
My Noise for Android/Google Play, Free with in-app purchases available.
The White Noise app offers white, pink and brown noise in spite of its name. There is a free version, White Noise Lite, a more complete version for $.99 and White Noise Pro for $2.99. Begin with White Noise for free.