- 1 Noise for a Quieter Night
- 2 Sleep Well to Be Well
- 3 The Sound Machine for You
- 4 Sleep On
Although it sounds counterintuitive, a sound machine can actually help you get the Z's your body so desperately craves.
You're probably skeptical. I mean, how can noise improve your sleep?
Well, it's constant noise that can help you sleep. Here are the facts:
Noise for a Quieter Night
It may sound backward, but a sound machine can do wonders for your sleep.
A sound machine plays noise constantly. This constant noise lets your brain drown out other sounds.
Your neighbor's car alarm? Ignored. Your partner's snoring? Gone. The cat scratching at your door? What cat?
See, our ears don't stop listening to sounds when we fall asleep. It's the brain that decides whether or not to listen.
And it's those loud interruptions during an otherwise quiet sleep that alert the brain and thus wake you up.
A sound machine solves the problem of random crashes and bangs.
How does it do that?
The consistent hum of a sound machine comprises frequencies from the entire range of human hearing. So when your neighbor's car alarm goes off, or your partner starts to snore, it won't sound so out there.
The sound machine blends frequencies together, so your brain can easily ignore random sounds throughout the night.
Colors of the wind
You've probably heard of white noise, but that's not the only "color" of noise.
Yes, you read that right:
White noise sounds like an untuned radio, and it's the sonic version of white light. Just as white light contains all waves on the color spectrum, white noise plays all frequencies at an equal volume.
But white noise isn't the only type of noise out there. Maybe you prefer a low rumble to the flittering high pitches.
If that's the case, you might enjoy pink or brown noise.
Pink noise is similar to white noise, but it emphasizes the lower frequencies. It doesn't give equal power to the low and high ends of the spectrum.
Brown noise takes the concept of pink noise one step further.
It's even lower than pink noise, and it lacks the high frequencies in pink and white noise.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have blue and violet noise. Blue noise is the opposite of pink noise, with an emphasis on higher frequencies.
And violet noise is opposite brown noise since violet noise focuses even more on higher frequencies.
Lastly, there's gray noise. Gray noise focuses on both high and low frequencies while lessening the sound in the middle of the range.
Sound machine for sleeping?
A sound machine provides a constant source of sound which allows us to ignore intermittent sounds.
Great, but isn't there more to getting a good night's sleep than a sound machine?
Of course, a sound machine can't fix all of your sleep problems. You also need a comfortable bed, a dark environment, and more.
But a sound machine can solve the problem of a noisy environment.
If you live in an apartment or have loud roommates, you might not have a chance to sleep in a quiet room.
So giving your bedroom a consistent sound for your brain to focus on can help you get better sleep.
And the benefits don't stop there.
The better you sleep, the better you'll feel during the day.
Random bursts of noise can affect your sleep even if you don't wake up. Noises can make you move from one stage of sleep to another, for better or for worse.
You can even have a change in heart rate or blood pressure.
All thanks to the cat falling off of the ledge.
And if you're in a lighter stage of sleep, then sudden noise will almost certainly wake you up.
Emotional Sleep? Research has found that you're more likely to wake up if you hear a sound that has an emotion behind it. You're more likely to wake up for your crying baby than your snoring partner.
Consistency is key
The key here is consistency.
One reason why sound machines are better than rain or ocean sounds is that sound machines don't have the ups and downs of rain or the ocean
The sound from a sound machine is constant. Your brain can focus in on that consistency and ignore outside sounds more easily. Unfortunately, rain and ocean waves have peaks and valleys, so to speak.
Let's look at ocean waves:
As the wave comes closer to the shore, the sound gets louder. But once it crashes onto shore, the wave backs away and gets quiet.
If you want to use sound for sleeping, you need something that won't change in volume or intensity.
While the calming sounds of rain or ocean waves might help you fall asleep, staying asleep is its own battle.
Why it works
We mentioned that the constant hum of a sound machine helps you stay asleep.
But that's not all:
If you aren't already convinced that you need a sound machine, maybe the science behind them will change your mind.
Don't worry, we won't get too technical.
So, how does science come into play? A sound machine, of course, plays continuously. And it plays frequencies from low to high at the same time.
It's like a band playing different notes at once. Except you're not listening to an awesome concert. Your goal is to fall and stay asleep.
Our brains crave stimulation all of the time. That's part of why we can still hear things as we sleep. So giving your brain something to listen to just makes it even easier to fall asleep.
The fact that white noise can mask other sounds makes it the perfect "color" of noise for sleeping.
Sleep Well to Be Well
So, you know that a sound machine can help you sleep.
But why do you need better sleep?
Sleep is an important part of our daily routine. If you've ever had to pull an all-nighter, you know the following day can be brutal.
Of course, the quantity of sleep is important as well. You need those eight hours each night. And no, you can't catch up over the weekend.
But you also need good quality sleep.
We all know that we should eat well and exercise. Obviously, these additional things are essential to overall health.
However, good quality sleep deserves to be right next to exercise and a healthy diet. Consider it the pyramid of health.
Your quality of sleep could be a culprit behind some of your weight gain. Poor sleep is linked to weight gain, and sleep deprivation increases your risk of obesity.
There's more to your weight than what you put on your plate.
And that applies to adults and children. So make sure you get those needed Z's so you can maintain a healthy weight.
Do you ever feel like you can't stop munching on snacks?
If so, take a look at your sleeping habits.
It turns out that your appetite could be based on your sleeping patterns. If you don't get enough sleep, that can affect your body's hunger hormones.
Sleep deprivation can increase the hormone ghrelin, which causes hunger, and it can decrease leptin, which suppresses hunger.
If your body can manage these hunger hormones, you will have a better handle on your appetite. And, that can also help your waistline.
A link? If you can suppress your snack cravings, that could help you lose weight. Get enough sleep, and you could kill two birds with one stone.
Sleep is when your brain gets to take some time for itself. During your brain's daily self-care session, it can flush out toxins and prepare for the day ahead.
And get this.
Sleep deprivation can impact your brain in similar ways to alcohol intoxication.
Getting enough sleep can improve everything from concentration to productivity to memory. So make sure you get the rest you need to tackle that big assignment for work or school.
Lower risk of heart problems
Many people face heart problems each year. And many more are at risk of heart problems. Are you in one of those groups?
Well, here's the good news:
You don't have to resign yourself to a life of monitoring your heart.
For better or worse, your sleep quality and quantity can affect your heart health.
Multiple studies have found that your risk of heart disease or stroke rises if you don't get seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
Blood sugar control
Diabetes is another health condition plaguing the United States. It's also a condition that you might feel you have no control over. If you're at risk, you're at risk. There's nothing you can do.
But the truth is you can do something about it:
Get more sleep!
One study found that sleep restriction can take a toll on your blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
Lowered insulin sensitivity is a precursor to diabetes.
But the good news is that the study participants got rid of these symptoms after one week of sleeping more.
Whether you have a compromised immune system or not, who doesn't want a better immune system?
Well, getting sufficient sleep could be just what you need.
Here's the bottom line:
Even minor sleep deprivation can decrease your immune function.
If you sleep less than seven hours, one study found that you're three times as likely to develop a cold as someone who sleeps more than eight hours.
So if you're predisposed to getting a cold, make sure you get enough sleep so your body can fight off the virus.
Remember! If you do come down with a cold, all hope isn't lost. Just throw on some comfy PJs and hop into bed for some extra sleep. You'll be back to normal in no time.
Do you see a pattern yet?
Sleep is linked to just about everything that could go wrong in your body.
And yes, inflammation is one of those things.
A lack of sleep can cause cell damage and inflammation. And bad quality sleep can cause long term inflammation in your digestive tract.
Say hello to Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Or kick it to the curb with enough good quality sleep. Get yourself a sound machine to lower your risk of inflammation.
Depression and Sleep. Nine out of 10 people with depression complain about poor sleep quality.
If you suffer from depression, you might already have complained about your sleep. Unfortunately, there's a negative link between the two.
But a sound machine could help you get better sleep.
Other benefits of sleep include better social interactions. Studies have shown that poor sleep makes it harder to recognize emotions and social cues.
The Sound Machine for You
With all of the different colors of noise, you're sure to find the right color for you.
White noise is definitely the most common, but if you prefer pink or brown, you can find a sound machine for you.
As you start your search for the perfect sound machine, consider your current sleeping environment.
If you share your room with a partner or roommate, include them in your search. The last thing you want is to get amazing sleep but have a grumpy roommate.
If you have your own bedroom, but it's close to another bedroom, you should also consider that. Make sure your that the sound doesn't bleed into surrounding rooms.
But don't be afraid to include your children or other housemates in the search in case they will hear the sound machine.
On the other hand:
If you live on your own, you won't have to worry about anyone else.
Another thing to consider is what frequencies you prefer when you're awake. For example, if you like the low rumble of a bass, look at a sound machine with a brown noise setting.
If you prefer the high pitches of a piccolo, then find a violet noise machine.
But don't forget the classic white noise machine. It's simple, and it's the perfect place to start if you don't have a specific sound in mind.
Noise at Night? If you have trouble concentrating during the day, try using your sound machine to help you focus. Just as it can help you sleep at night, it can keep you centered on the task at hand when you're awake.
If you like the calming effects of rain or ocean waves, you'll love a sound machine with prerecorded sounds.
These machines have different soundscapes you can choose from. A lot of the sounds are based in nature, such as ocean waves or raindrops.
But there's nothing wrong with nature if it helps you fall and stay asleep. Depending on the machine you choose, you might get some fantastic recordings of these sounds.
One thing worth noting: These machines typically have short recordings that repeat over and over.
After all, the goal of a sound machine is to create a constant source of sound.
The second category of sound machines includes machines that create noise electronically.
Instead of taking recordings of live sounds, these sound machines make noise on their own. There's no recording of rain or an ocean wave.
It's not really fake noise, but it is artificial noise.
The benefit of this type of sound machine is that it can be more constant than prerecorded sounds. Depending on the recording quality, a live sound might not be the best at helping you sleep.
But with electronic noise, you know you'll get the same sound at all times.
These machines also let you choose from white, pink, and brown noise among other colors.
Sleep is a Choice? We all know sleep is an essential part of our day. However, humans are the only mammals that can delay sleep. But that doesn't mean sleep is optional.
Like a fan
Have you ever turned on your fan on a hot summer night only to find it as soothing to your ears as to the rest of your body?
Well, fans make great sound machines.
But what about cold winter nights?
Lucky for you, you can get a fan-like sound machine. These machines sound just like fans, but they don't blow cold air at you.
That makes them the perfect solution to anyone with a love of the fan sound without the cold blast of air.
You can also customize these fans more than a real fan. To change the volume, you can change the fan speed. If you want to modify the pitch, you can open or close the vents.
There's an app for that
If you don't have space for a sound machine or you don't want to spend the money on one, try a sound machine app.
There are tons of free and cheap apps to choose from. If one doesn't work, you can try another one.
The best part?
You don't have to return it like you would a physical sound machine.
If you don't want to commit to an app, you can also find tons of sound machine "videos" on YouTube.
Just check out this 10-hour video of rain sounds:
Find your groove
If you don't know where to start with sound machines, try an app or YouTube video. You don't have to go out shopping for yet another gadget, and some apps are free to use.
Apps and videos are perfect if you have a roommate who prefers the quiet. Just stick in a pair of earbuds, and you're good to go.
You don't have to worry about agreeing on a sound machine.
They can have their quiet (with the potential for interruptions), and you can have your constant stream of restful noise.
You've heard it thousands of times. You have to get enough sleep. But maybe you struggle to fall asleep at night. Or maybe the slightest noise wakes you up from an otherwise peaceful sleep.
Whether you can't get to sleep or you wake up constantly, you need to try a sound machine.
These machines give your brain the constant sensory input that it needs. Sound machines can also drown out intermittent noises like a car alarm or even snoring.
And with the advancement of smartphones and apps, you can even download a sound machine right now.
Yep. You don't have to do tons of research to make sure you get the right machine. If one app doesn't work out, you can try another one.
Sleeping is vital to your health and daily life. Without it, you wouldn't be able to concentrate or function normally.
You probably think a lot about how to make your waking hours better, from choosing meals to shopping for a new wardrobe.
So you should give your sleeping hours that same consideration. If you feel tired during the day, do what you can to make your sleep go more smoothly.
A sound machine is one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for sleep success.
Have you tried using a sound machine before? Did it improve your sleep? We'd love to hear from you! Share your experience in the comments.
Featured Image: CC0 via Pixabay