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How can colour noise improve your sleep?

How can colour noise improve your sleep?

Written by

Abbie Dawson


March 13, 2023


Latest research

There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to sleep. So, how can colour noise help?

Some nights, you lie with your head on the pillow willing your mind to shut off for the night, but for whatever reason it won’t.

If this sums up your nightly routine, you aren’t alone. Almost 1 in 5 people in the UK aren’t getting enough sleep. And this can have serious physical and mental health impacts.

But could a new TikTok trend be the solution? You’ve probably heard of white noise, but there are many other types of ‘coloured noise’ - all with different benefits when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.

What is TikTok’s colour noise trend?

New parents will be familiar with using white noise to help send their babies to sleep, yet many adults won’t have considered putting on a nondescript soundtrack at night.

Global TikTok creators are singing the praises of different types of background noise to fall asleep to, with #pinknoise and #brownnoise videos being viewed over 90 million times on the platform – and counting. 

Background noise can aid sleep by masking exterior sounds that you can’t control, like traffic or talking. It can also help distract the mind from anxious or intrusive thoughts that can keep you up at night.

Essentially, calm, consistent sounds relax the mind and prepare it for sleep. 

What is ‘coloured’ noise?

Coloured noise is a random sound signal playing at a constant spectral frequency. There are many different types, and each colour of noise has a particular density. The three main types are outlined below:

White noise

The most well-known coloured noise. It contains all audible frequencies in the sound spectrum at equal intensity and mixes them to create a steady, humming sound. It may be perceived as high-pitched because the human ear hears high frequencies louder. 

Examples include a fan, radio or TV static, and air conditioning. Studies have shown white noise can improve sleep quality and duration and can be particularly beneficial in high noise environments like cities.

Pink noise

Like white noise, pink noise is a steady background hum. The key difference to white noise is that it uses deeper sounds and lower sound waves, making it smoother and more relaxing. 

Since higher frequencies are perceived louder, the energy levels of pink noise drop by three decibels per ascending octave so that each octave is perceived evenly. The result is a more even, flat sound, like falling rain, rustling leaves, or ocean waves. Many people find it the better choice for sleep and concentration. 

Brown noise

Brown noise, also known as red noise, creates a rumbling sound with a bass-like tone even deeper than pink noise. Sound level decreases as frequency increases.

Some sleep apps use this sound instead of pink noise to give it a deeper, grainier effect. Studies have shown that many sufferers of Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) prefer the softness of brown noise for treating their symptoms. It’s also shown to enhance your thinking skills, so next time you need to focus, give it a go.

And there’s more...

There are various other coloured noises, including violet (high frequency), blue noise (all treble and no bass), grey noise (a more balanced take on white noise, emitting noise at both high and low frequencies), and green noise, focusing on the mid frequencies found in nature.

What happens if you and your partner don’t agree? 

Obviously if you’re sleeping next to someone who sleeps fine already, they might not want you to play these sounds out loud. Or you might disagree on what coloured noise is the most soothing to fall asleep to.

If this is the case, there are special headphones designed for sleeping that use a soft headband to keep them in place. Alternatively, try all the coloured noise to see if there is one you can both agree on.

There are no medals for nice music and wishful thinking, just a fair bit of risk. Leave that to others. Instead, let’s focus on the science behind good vibrations that curate atmospheres with real intention.

Hey, we've just met you and this is crazy. But here's our number +44 (0)203 397 7676. So, call us maybe? Or get in touch here.

How can colour noise improve your sleep?

Abbie Dawson

Marketing Manager at Startle. I'm in charge of our marketing activity, making sure to spread the word of Startle to as many brands as possible. When I'm not working, you'll find me vinyl shopping to add to my collection or working out at the gym (usually making enemies with a punching bag).

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Hey, we've just met you and this is crazy. But here's our number +44 (0)203 397 7676. So, call us maybe?

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