Pink Noise: Can It Help You Sleep?

Pink noise is a constant sound in the background. It filters out things that distract you, like people talking or cars going by, so they don’t interrupt your sleep. You may hear it called ambient noise.

Like white noise, it’s a steady background hum that may give you a better night’s sleep. But it uses deeper sounds and lower sound waves, so it may be gentler and more soothing.

How Are Pink Noise and White Noise Different?

White noise uses a mix of sound frequencies to create a static-like sound. It can be intense and high-pitched, like a fan or a vacuum.

Pink noise uses a consistent frequency, or pitch, to create a more even, flat sound, like a steady rain, wind rustling through trees, or waves on a beach. Its added depth and lower waves filter out higher sounds. As a result, you hear more relaxing, lower-frequency sounds.

Can Pink Noise Help You Sleep?

Pink noise reduces the difference between the background hum and loud, jarring noises that jolt you out of sleep, like a door slamming, a car horn honking, or someone snoring. So it may help you fall asleep faster and keep you in a deep sleep longer. You may also feel more rested when you wake up.

There isn’t much research yet on exactly how pink noise works and how well it helps you sleep.

One study found that it lowered brain activity and led to more stable sleep. Another study found people who used it slept more deeply.

Studies are limited, but pink noise may also boost your memory. A recent study found that older adults who used it at night did better on memory tests the next day.

We need more research to find out how pink noise affects your sleep, focus, and memory. But it’s safe and has no downside, so you may want to try it to see if it helps you.

Where to Get Pink Noise

You have many options for adding pink noise to your sleep routine. For example, you can:

  • Get a pink noise app from your smartphone’s app store or on YouTube, then play it as you go to sleep at night.
  • Find a pink noise clip online. Download a looping track from organizations like the American Tinnitus Association or the Misophonia Institute.
  • Get a sound machine or noise generator that specifically uses pink noise.

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Tips for Using Pink Noise

Try different sounds, tracks, and volumes to see what works best for you.

If the sound of the wind doesn’t soothe you, try a babbling brook. If a sound machine with pink noise doesn’t help you sleep better, try a few different smartphone apps until you find one that works. Raise the volume or lower it until you find your sweet spot. If you want to use headphones but they don’t feel good, try earbuds. You can also find special headphones for sleeping. They use a soft headband to keep them in place.

How to Get the Most Out of Pink Noise

Pink noise may help you nod off faster and enjoy a longer, deeper sleep. But it won’t work well if you have poor sleep habits.

To get the most out of pink noise, make these habits part of your nightly routine:

  • Get on a schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time in the morning, even on weekends.
  • Work out during the day. Daytime exercise helps you fall asleep faster at night.
  • Go dark. Create a sleep-friendly bedroom that’s quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid sleep interrupters. Limit caffeine, alcohol, and big meals before you go to bed.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on September 16, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

National Sleep Foundation: “Sleep and Sound,” “Sleep Trends: Pink Is the New White (Noise).”

University of Washington Medicine: “What Is Pink Noise?"

Cleveland Clinic: “Why ‘Pink Noise’ Might Just Help You Get a Better Night’s Sleep.”

Northwestern Medicine: “The Promise of Pink Noise.”

Journal of Theoretical Biology: “Pink noise: effect on complexity synchronization of brain activity and sleep consolidation.”

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience: “Acoustic Enhancement of Sleep Slow Oscillations and Concomitant Memory Improvement in Older Adults.”

American Tinnitus Association: “ATA’s Masking Sound Library.”

Misophonia Institute: “Downloads.”

CDC: “Tips for Better Sleep.”

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