White noise is one of the methods that has been used for a long time to help pacify a crying and fussy baby. It has also been used with great success to help reduce the bothersome symptoms of tinnitus, i.e., the perception of ringing in the ear. But what exactly is white noise, and how does it help you relax?

What is White Noise?

The term "white noise" refers to sounds that are used to mask other, naturally occurring sounds in your environment. It is similar to the sound of a bedroom fan running in the background, an air conditioner or to the sound of a radio tuned to an unused frequency. With its equal power across all ranges, it is quite monotonous, which helps your brain ignore high-pitched, or other unpleasant sounds.
To understand what white noise is, we have to take a closer look at what sound waves are made of. If you could take apart a sound wave, you would find two fundamental elements:
  • Frequency, which is how fast the waveform is vibrating per second.
  • Amplitude, which indicates the size of the waves.
The names of noise types are based on a loose analogy to the colors of light. While white noise contains all the audible frequencies, white light contains all the frequencies in the visible range.

If you live in the city, you know exactly how irritating the sounds of traffic can be, especially when you try to fall asleep at night. Have you ever run a fan at night just to create your very own sound machine? White noise can help cancel out some of the unwanted sounds in your surroundings and help you drift off to sleep.

If you are wondering right now if there is any evidence to any of these benefits, the answer is yes. According to one study, white noise can be especially helpful with putting your newborn to sleep. You can find various types of baby sound machines to help your baby sleep.
Reduces stress Increases focus
Enhances privacy Soothes headaches and migraines Masks tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

White, Pink, Brown, Violet Noise

You may be surprised to learn that depending on the intensity and frequency range, white noise can be divided into several other noise colors. Some of the examples are
  • Pink noise
  • Brown noise
  • Blue noise
  • Violet noise and more.
Pink
Pink noise is the same as white noise, but with reduced higher frequencies. It is louder at the low-frequency end of the spectrum and softer at the higher end. Listening to it while sleeping can improve your memory of the following day.
Brown
Brown noise is even stronger and deeper at the low end without the high-frequency sounds of pink and white noise. It can help you relax, focus, and improve your sleep.
Blue
Blue noise is sometimes considered high-frequency white noise. It is a noise color with a spectral density that is proportionate to its frequency. Blue noise raises in volume with increasing frequency, but at a lower rate than violet noise.
Violet
Violet noise is a type of sound that increases in volume at higher frequencies. It is also known as purple noise. It is particularly beneficial in blocking some higher frequency sounds associated withtinnitus.

Can I Relax with White Noise?

Silence in the city is a distant dream. Some noises are especially annoying. Whether it is the noise from a construction site or the sound of music from your neighbor's apartment, the disturbance could be the same. Your hearing needs to process so much auditory information that it is difficult to calm your system down.

White Noise Machines

So what if you can not fall asleep, or struggle to focus on work or study? Purchasing a white noise machine online may be the best solution to your problem. White noise machines produce soothing sounds and should help improve your sleep quality. Besides improved sleep, you may find that it helps reduce stress, increase your focus, enhance privacy, soothe your headaches and migraines, and mask tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Due to its soothing properties, white noise is also used in hypnosis.

How Does It Work?

Several explanations exist for why white noise works. One theory is that the louder the environment, the less sensitive the ears become. For example, a dripping faucet likely does not bother you during the day. At night, however, when everything is quieter, it becomes a nuisance. White noise raises the threshold again, and the dripping tap or other sounds are no longer audible.

White Noise Apps

According to another theory, the brain is always on the lookout for (acoustic) stimuli. The steady noise "occupies" the brain, without overwhelming it. It is too monotonous for that. Many report positive results using free versions of white noise apps. One example is the White Noise Lite app, which produces white or pink noise (available for Android and Apple).
This and other similar apps do an excellent job of combating different bothersome background sounds and creating an ambient environment. Most apps include most color noises (brown, white, pink, etc.), mechanical sounds like a bedroom fan or air conditioner, light to heavy rains, rushing water sounds, beach and ocean waves. Be sure to download the latest version to get the best possible experience. Turn on the app at night and let it play in the background as you drift off to sleep.

White Noise for Babies

White noise generators are very popular with parents of small children. The reason for the popularity is that the monotonous sound reminds babies of being in their mother's womb, which in turn has a calming effect. Babies, as early as the 6th month of pregnancy, can hear various subtle sounds, such as muffled tones, the heartbeat of their mother or even the monotonous noise of the womb.

If you want to calm your child with white noise, always make sure that you do not set the noise source too loud. A hairdryer or a vacuum cleaner can be up to 80 decibels (dB) loud. That is considered way too loud. So be sure to keep enough distance between your child and the source.