White Noise Helps Sleep?

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White noise is often used to help sleep, and even has the effect of reducing crying of babies. What is white noise? What are the side effects of listening to white noise?

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What is white noise?

White noise refers to a sound wave with different frequencies but consistent intensity (power) within the range easily acceptable to ordinary people, such as the sound of rain, waves, the hum of fans and air conditioners, and the rustle similar to radio or TV blank channels sound.

The reason why white noise is called "white" noise is related to the principle of light. White light is a mixture of monochromatic lights of various frequencies, but the colors are invisible to the human eye. Likewise, white noise has the effect of blocking or weakening other sounds, and thus calms the nerves and calms the mind.


What are the effects of white noise?

  • Improve sleep: When the room is too quiet, any small, irregular noise will arouse the alertness of the brain, making people become light sleepers and easy to wake up. The regularity and stability of white noise can help us fall asleep faster and be less likely to be woken up.
  • Reduces crying babies: A 2017 study found that white noise reduced the amount of time babies with colic cried more than rocking, and it also kept them asleep longer.
  • Improve work performance: Some people who work at home now use white noise to create a more conducive work environment for concentration. For example, Clubhouse, a social software that came out during the epidemic, provides a popular white noise room, allowing everyone to turn on their mobile phones or The computer's microphone transmits subtle sounds such as typing and breathing, creating an office-like environment.
  • Reduces symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): There is some evidence that white noise therapy can improve the negative effects of ADHD on speech recognition, reading and writing speed, but this remains to be confirmed by more research.

Does White Noise Help You Sleep? How's the effect?

A recent study showed that adults fell asleep 38% faster when they listened to white noise; another study of seriously ill patients in noisy hospitals also confirmed that listening to white noise with headphones can help improve sleep quality. But does white noise improve sleep by virtue of its inherent property of synchronizing brainwaves, or primarily by masking background noise? It is still unknown.


Are there any side effects of white noise?

White noise is generally very safe, with no side effects or harm, but there are still 2 points to pay attention to when using it:

  • Beware of hearing damage: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prolonged exposure to sounds above 70 decibels can be harmful to hearing. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) tested several white noise machines designed for babies in 2014 and found that they all exceeded the 50-decibel noise limit recommended for hospital nurseries.
  • Fear of delaying baby brain development: A 2003 study that exposed newborn mice to white noise for up to 3 months found that the development of the auditory cortex of the brains of the young mice slowed down to only a quarter of the normal speed.

Therefore, the researchers suggest that the white noise machine should be placed far away from the baby and played in a low voice, and then turned off manually after the baby falls asleep, so as not to cause damage to the baby's hearing and auditory development.

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