Are You Getting Adequate Sleep?
Despite the profound importance of proper sleep, too many of us experience trouble getting it! While it’s true that we often underestimate how vital our sleep is, and fail to prioritize it; there are many instances where our quality of sleep can feel out of our control.
While clinical sleep disturbances and disorders definitely warrant consultation with a physician, sleep specialist, or mental health professional; environmental factors such as noise and light are much easier culprits to address!
This post will look into some common causes of disrupted sleep, and explore methods to counter these for a less interrupted, more resilient sleep.
Fall Asleep, And Stay Asleep. Noise Can Help!
Environmental noise is a common source of sleep disturbance, affecting our stress responses and, consequently, our quality of sleep. As you probably know from experience, poor sleep results in a number of unfortunate next-day effects, like tiredness, grumpiness, brain fog, and more.
While somewhat counterintuitive, adding noise to the equation can help create a more restful environment. You’ve probably heard about white noise, or you might have bookmarked YouTube videos with titles such as ‘10 Hour Relaxing Rainstorm’.
If you fall into the latter category, these steady, static-like or nature-inspired soundtracks are a form of 'coloured noise', which have become a tremendously popular aid for concentration, relaxation, and falling asleep. Many parents of babies will attest to their efficacy!
How Does White Noise Work?
White noise works by masking other sounds, and it does this through a process that’s similar to how white light works. By combining all wavelengths of light (or frequencies of sound), each individual component is effectively ‘drowned out'.
It’s through this analogy to light that the colourful names for noises are derived! The exception to this is brown noise, which is closer to red noise using the above logic but gets its name from Einstein's Brownian theory, which was named after a botanist named Robert Brown!
Examples of White Noise:
- Radio or television static
- Whirring fan
- Humming air conditioner
- Hair dryer
The addition of white noise works to block distracting environmental noises, helping your mind switch off and relax. That being said, not everyone responds equally to white noise, in fact, some may find it abrasive or irritating. That’s where pink noise comes in!
What is Pink Noise?
While white noise contains all frequencies in equal parts (dubbed ‘broadband noise’), pink noise is characterized by deeper sounds and lower sound waves. This lower pitch is useful in reducing our sensitivity to higher-pitched noises and creates a softer, more balanced effect than its white counterpart.
A good comparison between pink noise vs white noise would be listening to the sound of rain vs tv static, respectively.
Examples of Pink Noise:
- Wind blowing
- Ocean waves
- A rushing river
- Leaves rustling
Now that you have an idea of what white and pink noise sounds like, you may be wondering about the brown noise we mentioned earlier. Brown noise uses even lower frequencies than pink noise, and was described by one listener as "like being on a plane when it’s really dark and everyone is asleep" - we thought this was a rather apt description!
How Does Pink Noise Impact Sleep?
Just like with white noise, sleeping with pink noise can help block out unwanted sounds, helping you to fall asleep faster and result in an overall improved quality of sleep. Studies show a link between pink noise and deep sleep - an especially critical component of sleep quality - and in turn, found that pink noise can help improve memory in adults!
In a nutshell, the effectiveness of pink noise is twofold: first blocking out noises that stop you from falling asleep or that wake you up, and then helping your brain to switch to sleep mode, which is necessary for optimal functioning across our mental, cognitive and physical areas of health.
Common reasons to use pink noise for sleep:
- Difficulty falling (and staying) asleep
- Treating insomnia symptoms
- Blocking environmental noise such as traffic or snoring
- Helping establish a sleep schedule for babies
- As an alternative to white noise or other colour noises, which may be too aggravating for some (e.g. those with tinnitus or sensitive hearing)
- As a concentration or memory boost
- A sleep aid for those experiencing jet lag or short term disruptions to sleep routine
How to Use Pink Noise Safely and Effectively
Babies, children and adults can safely listen to pink noise! As noted, there are instances where it’s best to first speak with a doctor before exploring at-home solutions. But here’s some guidelines to help ensure your noise-aided sleep routine gets the care it deserves!
- If using pink noise to help infants sleep, please do plenty of additional research! Safety guidelines will be different for this age group and some extra caution will go a long way to keep little ears protected.
- Those with existing hearing loss or related issues are encouraged to seek an opinion from their doctor first.
- Rule out any other causes of irregular sleep patterns or trouble falling or staying asleep.
- Avoid setting the volume too high, aim for around the noise level of a quiet conversation or a shower running.
- Earbuds and headphones are considered safe for listening to pink noise, so long as the volume is set at a safe level.
- Discontinue use of pink noise if your quality of sleep does not improve.
Alternatives to Pink Noise
Like everything to do with sleep, we always prefer a tailored approach and recommend solutions that are based on the unique preferences and needs of each individual. When it comes to your sleep routine, there may be a few things worth trying prior to, or concurrently with, adding noise to the mix!
1. Weighted Blankets
Many people find that sleeping with a weighted blanket helps to improve their sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, and provides extra comfort and a sense of security.
Our Calme Weighted Quilt Set promotes calm using Deep Pressure Stimulation to mimic the feeling of being held or hugged. The gentle pressure from this quilt can help to slow your heart rate and breathing, which may make it easier to fall asleep.
2. Blackout Curtains
Just like noise is an environmental factor that can be disruptive to sleep, light also affects how well we fall asleep and wake up. Darkness promotes relaxation and stimulates the production of melatonin. This hormone helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle!
If you think you may benefit from blocking out unwanted light (and noise too!), try our Linen Look Blackout Drapery Panel. An affordable and stylish option for bedrooms and nurseries, and available in three tasteful colours. Our Mulberry Silk Eye Mask are a luxurious way to help block out light!
3. Cooling Bedding
For those who run hot, or who live in warm climates, temperature may be behind any sleep difficulties! Heat increases wakefulness, and decreases the duration of some of the sleep cycles integral to a healthy sleep.
For temperature-regulating sheeting, try natural fibers like TENCEL™, or bamboo. If you are looking to replace your duvet or comforter with a cooling upgrade, we highly recommend our Pearl Mulberry Silk Duvet, for its beautifully lightweight silk fill and cotton shell construction. For more cooling layers, our Cool Touch Blanket and Pillowcases are great for chilling out during summer months!
4. Embrace Colour Psychology and Think Pink!
Interestingly, even though pink noise is not related to colour (or vision) at all, there IS a link between this hue and relaxation! Specifically, Baker-Miller pink (or “Barbie Pink”) is known to have a calming effect, and has been used by interior designers to introduce a sense of peace and balance to a room.
Our Organic Cotton Duvet Cover Set in Sloane is made from silky soft 100% organic cotton and features a soft pink design with a simple circle pattern (did you know circles are also registered by our brains as safe, gentle and calm?).
For pink sheeting, our Bamboo Cotton Sheet Set in Blush is super smooth, breathable and made sustainably!
Our Pink Noise Resources & Tips
If you’d like to give pink noise a try, there are plenty of free online resources just a few clicks away! To make things even easier, we did our research and found some playlists for you!
This 24 hour long Nature Sounds with Pink Noise playlist on Spotify features looped audio of rainfall, wind, trickling streams, softly rumbling thunder, a crackling campfire, crashing waves and sounds of wildlife.
If your streaming engine of choice is YouTube, this 10 hour long video plays a steady loop of relaxing rain sounds.
Noise machines designed for the bedroom are also widely available. Although these sound machines are often marketed with the “white noise” label, many will have pink noise variations built in. This applies to white noise apps for mobile, too. The best noise for sleep will be different for everyone, so these sleep aids often come with a selection of pink and white noise sounds.
Additional Sleep Tips:
- Turn off bright lights
- Get regular exercise
- Avoid stimulants (e.g. coffee) at night
- Limit food and alcohol intake close to bedtime
- Establish a sleep schedule - our bodies love routine!
- Limit naps during the day
Still eager to learn more about improving your sleep? Read our blog 9 Tips for a Better Sleep for our top sleep tips!
Wishing you better rest and peaceful dreams! Subscribe to our mailing list for more content like this delivered straight to your inbox, or follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see our updates on your feed!