We often hear of the effect white noise can have on you or your child’s sleep. Who knew there are other colours of noise?? Not me. My guest blog post today is from the amazing Jerylin Gan, Ph.D. about the colours of noise.
Have trouble sleeping? A toddler who wakes whenever you accidentally step on that creaky floorboard? Just hate the sound of those damn chipper little birds at 5 am? Then someone’s probably recommended playing white noise in the background. Maybe in the form of a fan, a mp3 of a waterfall, or one of those sleep sheep stuffed animals that play a heartbeat as well.
From my experience, white noise is wonderful. Both my kiddos and husband will wake at the drop of a hat. But you know what I’ve found works better for me? Pink noise. That’s right. There’s more than one colour of noise!
There’s white, pink, brown, gray, and violet noise (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colors_of_noise). The difference between the colours is how loud certain frequencies are. Low frequencies sound low to human ears; high frequencies are higher pitched. “Noise” is when you play a lot of frequencies at the same time. White noise is when all frequencies are played at the same volume. Pink noise is when lower frequencies are played slightly louder than the higher frequencies. Brown noise is when lower frequencies are played a lot louder than higher frequencies.
And though it’s hard for most people to tell the difference between the different colours of noise, they’ve been shown to have different effects on people. What might be soothing for one (e.g. the sound of a vacuum to my friend’s baby) might sound awful to another individual (e.g. the sound of a vacuum to me). So experiment! Try to see if you like white, pink or brown noise. See which noise might help you sleep better. See which noise will help you concentrate on a task!
Jerylin Gan, Ph.D.
You may wonder who is Jerylin Gan, Ph.D.? Well, let me fill you in. Jerylin is currently an amazing stay at home mom with a passion to ensure her children are getting the much-needed rest they require. Jerylin has a BA in Molecular and Cellular Biology from UC Berkeley, PhD in Neurobiology and Behavior from the University of Washington, Seattle and she did further training at Cornell Medical School. She is my go-to person when looking at the science behind a number of studies we see popping up on social media.
Originally posted June 21, 2016
Updated and re-posted Nov 23, 1018