You’ve heard of white noise and brown noise, but what about pink noise? Here’s everything you need to know.
In the pursuit of better (or just more) sleep, you’ve likely already tried brown noise, white noise, mouth taping and every other other hack under the sun. And if a decent night’s kip still evades you, you’re ready to try however many more you can find.
Here’s some good news: the latest sleep trend that’s all over TikTok requires minimal effort and could deliver brilliant results.
Pink noise isn’t actually new, but is popping up on TikTok thanks to people discovering its benefits. “I did some research last night and slept with pink noise and got the most toe curling, drooling, brain melting, joint cracking, restful sleep of my life,” wrote one fan. “I fell asleep fast, didn’t wake up in the middle of the night whatsoever, AND I woke up energised to the first ring of my first alarm. I’m doing it again tonight to make sure it wasn’t a glitch. Sleep with pink noise I have never been more productive.”
Once you’ve seen a few testimonies like that, you’ll want to try pink noise out for yourself. So here’s everything you need to know.
What is pink noise?
Pink noise is like white noise in that it has that constant, low-level hum. The difference, however, is its deeper, lower sound waves, which create a flatter, more even sound. If white noise sounds like static from a TV, pink noise sounds more like the ocean, rain, a waterfall, or wind rustling through trees. It sounds more ‘natural’, basically, but with a consistent rhythm.
All that makes for an even more relaxing type of sound. It also blocks out noises that might otherwise disturb your sleep if you had total silence (think cars driving past your place, your cat meowing at 3am and your drunken neighbours coming home).
You can listen to an example of pink noise (for 10 hours) here:
What are the benefits of pink noise?
Alas, there hasn’t been a wealth of research into pink noise, but the small studies that have been conducted are promising.
One 2017 study found that pink noise can not only improve sleep, but could also boost your memory, too. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, involved 13 people between the ages of 60-84 – an age group highly susceptible to poor quality sleep and memory loss. They slept one night with pink noise playing and one night with a fake pink noise dupe (with sounds played in a random order).
The participants’ sleep quality was tracked overnight, and the next day they took memory performance tests. Spoiler: both were improved by listening to pink noise.
Another bit of research at Peking University found similar results when they studied 40 sleepers. Researchers found that pink noise resulted in “significant enhancement” of time spent asleep, meaning there were fewer disturbances as people rested.
Anecdotally, fans of pink noise say it helps them to drift off more easily, allows them to stay asleep through the night and makes them feel more rested the next morning.
How pink noise works
Just like white noise and brown noise, the main benefit of pink noise is that it covers up distracting sounds that could rouse you from deep sleep.
Some people also find it relaxing – although many people on TikTok report pink noise sounding ‘scary’, so it’s worth giving it a listen and seeing how you feel.
The sneakier benefit of pink noise is that after a few nights using it, its mere association with better sleep can help you snooze. It’s a bit like a placebo effect, sure, but more like the power of routine. The same way getting into your pyjamas and brushing your teeth nudges your brain into knowing it’s bedtime, if you always play pink noise as you go to bed, soon enough it will act as a ‘time to rest’ signal.
How to use pink noise
There are no noted downsides to using pink noise, so if you try it out and love it, go forth and listen. But one thing to bear in mind is this: pink noise does not magically fix all sleep issues, and it certainly won’t undo bad sleep habits. Sticking on some waterfall sounds doesn’t mean you can get away with going to bed late or have an inconsistent wakeup time. You still need to do all the other sleep hygiene basics; just think of pink noise as the cherry on top.
So that means you need a regular bedtime, a relaxing pre-sleep routine, a good amount of shut-eye, and a comfortable bed. Anything that soothes you – whether it’s a spot of facial massage, reading a book, or listening to pink noise – is a great thing.
You can play pink noise at whatever volume you like, either through a sound machine, out loud through your laptop or phone, or via wireless headphones (never use wired headphones in bed, as the cable can be dangerous when you’re tossing and turning throughout the night). Just pop it on before you sleep and keep it playing until you’re ready to wake up.
Try it out and see how you feel. If pink noise works for you, great. If it doesn’t, no harm done. Just make sure you’re doing all the other good sleep stuff as well.
Main image: Getty
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