Sleeping With Noise

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Or do you wake up at night and struggle to get back to sleep? Maybe you have tried one of the many “white noise” solutions. I know people who sleep every night with that steady sound that masks other sounds playing nearby. There are machines or you can ask Alexa or other devices to play white noise. When I heard about it many years ago, I was told to tune my radio between two stations for a steady static sound.

The idea of playing “noise” to hide other noises always seemed weird to me. For the past decade, I have had tinnitus which produces a steady sound in my left year and it does not help me sleep at all. In fact, trying to go to sleep is a time when I am most aware of the sound.

This noise 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.

Recently I read about “pink noise.” This is quieter and is like the slow waves that your brain produces during deep sleep. White noise may sound like a vacuum cleaner or loud static. Pink noise is more like falling rain or rustling leaves.

Both white noise and pink noise encompass all frequencies of noise that are audible to the human ear. However, white noise contains all frequencies with equal distribution, whereas pink noise has more power at lower frequencies and less at higher frequencies, making it deeper.

Specifically, pink noise contains the same overall intensity in each octave, but the volume of individual pitches decreases by 3 decibels with each higher octave. I don’t know what that means but I asked an audiologist about it. He said that it does work and that it might actually mask my tinnitus when I’m trying to fall asleep. I tried a white noise app and it did not work for me. I actually felt like the noise aggravated my tinnitus, so I stopped.

Should I try pink noise?


Out of Office

An “online friend” sent me some info as a followup to my post on trying to separate work and play.  It’s not exactly about separating the two, but about being more efficient at the work part in order to have more of the play time.

It sounds quite scientific. He says I should think about using “stochastic resonance.” The theory is that a weak signal – something you’re distractedly working on – becomes easier to detect if you add white noise into the background. In other words, you can better focus and keep a train of thought on the tracks with a bit of random background activity. (There is actual research on stochastic resonance.)

It doesn’t seem to mean listening to music on headphones while you work, but more like that random background noise in a café. A background of silence doesn’t help focus.

My friend got this bit from the book Out of Office by Chris Ward which is about  being more productive and creative in your working life – and that includes working out of the office in places like coffee shops.

It was $1.99 for Kindle so I’ll  give it a try this weekend.

I suppose I should head to a café to read it.