White and pink noise are groups of sounds of specific frequencies and power which are audible to the human ear. There are other classifications of sound - these include brown and blue noise. This blog will concentrate on white and pink noise, and the benefits these sounds can have on sleep.
Examples of white noise:
Examples of pink noise:
What's the definition of white and pink noise?
White noise is comprised of all the audible frequencies that a human ear can hear and all the frequencies have the same power or amplitude.
Pink noise also is comprised of all the frequencies that are audible to the human ear, but the main difference versus white noise is that the frequencies have different amplitude. The higher the frequency, the lower the power.
What are the benefits of white and pink noise?
Studies have suggested that white noise can reduce the time to induce sleep by up to 38% compared to people who do not use white noise machines (Ref 1). Some studies have also found that white noise can help babies and young children to fall asleep more quickly, (Ref 2 ) and white noise has also been shown to be effective in helping the performance of sub attentive children (Ref 3).White noise has been studied the most in terms of inducing sleep, and there is less evidence for pink noise. However, there are currently no studies comparing white noise versus pink noise to determine which is better in inducing sleep.
Pink noise is regarded as being more soothing to listen to than white noise and less irritating for sensitive ears as the higher frequencies are reduced in power. When snoozing, pink noise can help induce a longer and deeper sleep. There are several studies that that demonstrated that sleeping using pink noise helped both short and long term memory (Ref 4).
White and pink noise can be used as part of the daily sleep routine for babies and young children, as well as a way of helping to relax and soothe both children and adults of all ages. Babies are used to a very noisy environment in the womb and they become accustomed to the sounds they hear in the womb both day and night. This means that outside the womb babies tend to derive comfort and feelings of safety in hearing those sounds as it reminds them of being in the womb. The sounds they hear from the outside would sound more muffled in the womb. Once born, these real world noises will sound much louder and harsher to them. White and pink noise may help to drown out some of those harsher everyday sounds and provide your baby with a more familiar comforting sound similar to their womb environment.
In summary, choosing either white noise or pink noise sounds for help with inducing sleep comes down to personal preference and both will have their uses in different environments. There are no head to head studies of white noise versus pink noise so we'd recommend trying both to see which works best for you.
Jaspar features 6 soothing white and pink noise sounds. Learn more about his features here!