Skip to content

People are raving about pink noise for its sleep-inducing qualities, but can it actually help you drift off?

When was the last time you enjoyed a really good night's sleep? If – like so many of us – you can't remember, listening to pink noise might just be the answer and as we celebrate World Sleep Day, there's no better time than to get a good night's kip.

The hashtag #pinknoise has 1.4M views on TikTok and is being heralded for its calming sound, which apparently helps soothe anxiety and help you fall asleep quicker.

Megan Druet, a naturopathic doctor, recently shared a clip that shows what white noise, pink noise, and brown noise (we'll get to that later) all sound like. You can have a listen, here:

@wordsbyfrankie And that’s why I strangely love the sound of the rain so much, and why the ocean waves calme me more than anything 🌊 #psychologytips #anxietyhelp #pinknoise #selfhelptips #mentalhealthawareness #anxietyrelief #psychologyfact ♬ original sound - Cedars Mind

Another TikTok user, @wordsbyfrankie, shared a video saying that “if you have anxiety, you need to learn about pink noise.” She described pink noise as a “deep and low-frequency sound, and it's everywhere in nature: the ocean waves, steady rain, rustling forest leaves," adding that, “we are psychologically wired to favour natural sounds, particularly people with anxiety.”

You can watch the clip, here:

But what does the term “pink noise" actually refer to? And can it really help you on your way towards a good night's sleep? Here's what you need to know:

What is pink noise?

Pink noise is a type of noise that contains all the sound frequencies that humans are capable of hearing. Frequencies basically refer to how fast the waves of sound vibrate per second, which is known as spectral density.

Adullah Boulad, founder and CEO of wellness centre The Balance describes pink noise as “a balanced, calming sound that is produced as a result of a consistent frequency spectrum, resembling the sound of rain or wind rustling through leaves”. He explains that it is known as pink noise because, in terms of the sound frequency spectrum, it falls somewhere between white noise and red (also known as brown and brownian) noise.

Unlike white noise, which plays all frequencies of sound at equal intensity, in pink noise, the higher frequencies are less intense, meaning we're more tuned in to the more soothing, lower frequencies.

Many relaxing, natural sounds, such as waves crashing and rain falling, as well as wind, a flowing river and waterfall sounds, are examples of pink noise. Pink noise is often compared to water and because pink noise resembles many sounds in everyday life, therapists often use it as a tool to treat hearing disorders and tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.

Can pink noise help you get a good night's sleep?

Most of the research on noise and sleep has focused on white noise, with one study concluding that it improved sleep for people who were already experiencing difficulty sleeping due to high levels of environmental noise.

There's also been some research into whether or not listening to pink noise can improve the quality and/or duration of sleep. A study in 2012 determined that pink noise has a “significant effect on reducing brain wave complexity,” which induced “more stable sleep time to improve [the] sleep quality of individuals.”

Moreover, a study in 2017 found a connection between listening to pink noise and deep sleep and sleep-dependent memory consolidation.

“Pink noise can help you sleep by promoting relaxation and masking other sounds that may disturb your sleep,” Martin Seeley, sleep expert and CEO of mattressnextday says. “When you listen to pink noise, it creates a soothing sound that can help calm your mind and reduce stress. This, in turn, can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

“Additionally, pink noise can help mask other sounds that may disturb your sleep, such as traffic, snoring, or noisy neighbours. By creating a consistent sound, pink noise can help drown out these unwanted sounds and create a more peaceful sleeping environment.”

What's the difference between pink noise and white noise?

White noise is an audible sound frequency that can help you relax and encourage a good night's sleep. In a recent study, adults fell asleep 38% faster while listening to white noise. Other recent studies have continued to find white noise positively affecting sleep. That’s why it’s often recommended for sleeping difficulties and sleep disorders like  insomnia.

The problem with white noise is that all the frequencies come through at the same intensity. Pink noise attempts to solve this issue for people who find white noise too unpleasant by creating a louder low frequency with softer high ends, this makes it slightly smoother than white noise. Studies have shown that pink noise didn’t only aid people in getting to sleep but also had positive influences in supporting deep sleep and memory.

What other types of noise are there?

It's not just pink noise that's receiving attention on TikTok; many users are also raving about Brown noise, which has even fewer high-frequency sounds than pink noise. Many people compare brown, or Brownian (named after the botanist Robert Brown), noise to listening to a low roar, such as a waterfall.

This article was originally published on Glamour UK.

Share this article: