In my practice, I often hear of parents using white noise apps or devices to soothe their little ones. But does it work and what about Pink Noise?
The theory is that white noise may remind babies of their uterine life when external noises were muffled and masked by Mum’s belly. It may be that the baby then associates such noises with the natural soothing environment of the womb.
The babies world suddenly becomes a very stimulating and noisy environment once they are born and the baby needs to adapt.
White noise can help mask the changes of noise and allow the brain the benefit of a more consistent sonic environment and ultimately help your baby to sleep better.
Whilst White Noise devices are the most well known, the lesser known ‘Pink Noise is possibly better for baby, as more and more studies demonstrate the long term benefits of Pink Noise’.
This noise sounds like a radio tuned to an unused frequency. There’s considerable evidence that white noise is indeed effective for promoting sleep. It creates a constant ambient sound that helps to mask other noises, like a car door slamming outside, which might wake the baby up or stop them from getting to sleep in the first place!
But because it has equal power across all frequencies audible to the human ear, it often sounds high pitched. That is because when our ears hear a certain sound, our brain amplifies the higher pitched region of the sound and make it seem louder than it really is. And for some people, this high pitch sound can cause disturbance rather than helping to soothe.
This is white noise but with reduced higher frequencies (think of it as white noise with the bass turned up).
It is considered to be more soothing than white noise and less upsetting for the sensitive ears. When you are snoozing, pink noise helps you or your baby fall into a deeper and longer sleep. Additionally, several studies on pink noise have even shown that sleeping with it can also improve short and long term memory.
In one study, published in Neuron (1) in 2013, researchers synced pink noise with participants’ brainwaves, so that it played when their brain activity registered deep sleep. Compared with no noise, the pink noise corresponded with a longer duration of deep sleep. Not only did they sleep better but they were also able to recall almost twice as many word pairs shown to them the previous night.
(For more studies please see the bottom of this blog.)
So, you may be wondering if this comes with a price tag, but this blog just gets better and better! You can get Pink Noise from several apps, including this one for free.
Let us know how you get on!
Two newer studies, published in 2017 in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (2) and 2016 in Sleep Medicine (3), respectively, also found benefits of pink noise on deep sleep and memory. But more research is needed to determine the exact benefits of one noise over the other ones.