Chances are, you've heard of "white noise" before. On the other hand, you might not be familiar with pink noise. Pink noise is similar to white noise in that it’s a frequency of background sound, often used to help you fall asleep faster or stay asleep.
If you're the type of person who can't focus when it's too quiet, white noise may help. Silence accentuates a single sound and diverts your attention. But people find that pink noise through a sound machine or music can help them to fall asleep faster too.
There are differences between these two sonic hues, and we explore them below.
The Difference Between White and Pink Noise
The main difference between white noise and pink noise is in the frequency of the sound. While both types of noises are audible to the human ear (ranging from 20 hertz to 20,000 hertz), pink noise has decreasing power per hertz as the frequency increases.
White noise, on the flip side, has equal power per hertz across all frequencies. In layman terms, this means that the lower frequencies heard in pink noise are louder and actually have more power than higher frequencies.
Evidence has shown that white noise helps to promote sleep. It masks other noises, like the slam of a car door outside that could wake you up, and it creates a continuous ambient sound.
Examples of white noise include:
- static on the television
- the hissing sound of steam coming from the radiator
Pink noise, again, is similar to white noise, but it's more powerful and louder at lower frequencies, while white noise has equal power across frequencies.
You'll find pink noise in nature, such as:
- leaves rustling
- waves lapping
- a steady rainfall
How to Use Pink Noise
If you're looking to listen to one of these noise colors to get to sleep or improve your sleep, you'll want to experiment with the type of volume and noise, since not all people respond the same way.
You can download a variety of pick noise apps onto your laptop, tablet or smartphone just like you would download a white noise sleep app. Before you go to bed, turn on the pink noise app and fill your room up with sounds to help put you to sleep.
- Play Rain Falling Sleep Sounds. A good source of pink noise is online recordings of rain falling. Rainfall sounds are a soothing form of pink noise. Check out YouTube videos or tracks for hours of rainfall sleep music.
- Turn a Fan On. Another great pink noise source is a fan. Either a box fan or ceiling fan will work and help you if you're struggling to sleep.
- Play Traffic Audio or Video Recordings. The sound of traffic also makes a great form of pink noise. Play them at low volume in your room to create pink noise that will help you sleep. The recordings should be steady, continuous traffic with no honking horns or accidents.
Other Tips for Sleeping Better
Although pink noise is a good tool to help you sleep, it won't necessarily cancel out bad habits and behaviors that keep you from sleeping. Try to phase out those behaviors and habits that keep you from sleeping to ensure the pink noise is effective.
Try things like limiting your laptop or phone use before bed, avoiding napping in the afternoon, and avoiding caffeine a few hours before you go to bed.
While a white noise generator works well, many find that pink noise is more effective in helping them to relax and fall asleep. It can't hurt to try it out for yourself, and see if it helps you sleep better.