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Is Pink Noise the New White Noise?

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by Laurie Riihimaki

The method of using white noise to get some deeper zzz’s is tried and true. Many of us can’t sleep without the noise of a fan or an AC blasting in our rooms. The more sophisticated white noise-lovers even opt for apps that have an array of different white noise options such as rainfall, fan, crickets, ocean waves, or crackling campfire. 

Now even more trending than white noise is pink noise — white noise’s more colorful and fun cousin. Pink noise is taking over the sleep industry because of its many health benefits. 

But is it that different than white noise? Or are millennials just trying to put a flirty spin on our ancient deep-sleep recipe? 

Theory of White Noise

It’s no secret that the soothing sounds of white noise are comforting to plenty of people. But what’s the science behind it?

According to factual evidence recorded from a study done on sleep, white noise aids people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep by decreasing the difference in noise between background sounds and “peak” sounds. Background sounds would be the constant, such as a fan, a hum of a refrigerator, or the relative silence of your house at night. A peak sound would be something that is not constant such as someone opening a door, during on the faucet, or talking on the phone — all of which could easily wake many individuals. 

The consistency of white noise during restful hours works as a masking mechanism, so that the harsh effect of disruptions on your much-needed beauty sleep is dramatically reduced. 

How is Pink Noise Different? 

Pink noise is very similar to white noise. It contains all the frequencies of white noise. These frequencies are between 20 and 20,000 hertz, which is the range of audibility for humans. However, pink noise differs from white noise because of the way the frequencies are distributed. White noise is a solid stable sound that has an equal balance of power throughout its frequencies, whereas the power of pink noise decreases as the frequency increases. The result of this imbalance creates a sound that is louder at some frequencies and quieter at others. However, most people still interpret the sound as even and as flat as white noise. 

To illustrate this example to sounds we are familiar with, our daily heartbeat is an example of pink noise. The noise of traffic is also a form of pink noise. 

White Noise vs. Pink Noise — What’s Better?

Now that we know the difference between white noise and pink noise, you’re probably wondering which one is better for your beauty sleep. So here’s an easy breakdown of the pros and cons of each:

White Noise Pros:

  • Helps you go to sleep faster
  • Helps you to stay asleep longer
  • Lowers anxiety
  • Helps to alleviate headaches 
  • Has the ability to improve memory and focus

White Noise Cons:

  • Frequent buzzing can irritate some people
  • Possibility of hearing damage if it’s too close or it is played too loud
  • Potential for danger because of deep sleep — not being awoken/alerted during emergencies
  • Potential for delays in child development
  • Dependency 
  • Negative brain rewiring 

Pink Noise Pros:

Pink Noise Cons:

  • Dependency
  • Frequent buzzing can irritate some people
  • Possibility of hearing damage if it’s too close or it is played too loud
  • Potential for danger because of deep sleep — not being awoken/alerted during emergencies

White noise has been studied a great deal more than pink noise, but it’s clear that both sounds are pretty similar. And now that you have all that information, you can make a solid decision about how you’ll go about snagging some much-deserved rest. 

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