Sleep is something that I’ve had an issue with for as long as I can remember. An elusive thing at best, the quality of my sleep often depends on blood sugar levels, stress, PTSD symptoms, other medical issues (ex: colds, flus and the like) as well as the fact I have two small children in the house.
I’ve written a number of posts that outline the benefits of a good night’s sleep. There’s no getting away from it; sleep is a necessary and integral part of a person’s health, well-being and interestingly enough, their sanity (that last aspect is information for another post).
For Type 1 Diabetics, sleep is a mixed bag, because our sleep is affected BY our blood sugar levels, but sleeping through lows or highs can also be extremely dangerous.
After reading a bit on sleep habits and therapies, and having heard about it from different sources, I started trying something new about a week ago that has improved my sleep: white noise.
Before I start describing some of my experiences over the last week, I should start by explaining what the hell white noise actually is. Not everyone is familiar with White Noise, or its lesser-know cousins, Pink Noise and Red (Brownian) Noise. Let’s do some learnin’…
White Noise is described in layman’s terms as a sound that contains all the audible frequencies that can be heard by the human ear. These frequencies are all at the same intensity, giving the sound an almost “static” quality, which is how many people describe it;
Pink Noise is a sound that contains MOST audible frequencies, except the higher ones, and whose intensity decreases as the frequency increases. This can potentially make it more pleasant than white noise, and a good alternative if white noise doesn’t work for you. The sound of a steady rainfall is a good comparison.
Red Noise, or Brownian is similar to White and Pink but with even fewer high frequencies, described as having more bass notes than white noise, which makes it more tolerable and pleasant to listen to than White Noise. An undisturbed ocean wave lapping on the shore is a good comparison.
All three of these are mathematical constructs that do NOT occur naturally in nature, despite what many people think. Although white noise is often generically described as “background noise”, all three of these sounds need to be carefully constructed in order to qualify for the definition. Some people have tried white noise and noticed no benefit. In cases such as those, it would be to their benefit to try pink or red noise, as these could be alternatives that would work well for them.
There are a lot of benefits to using white noise. First and foremost, white noise will buffer out background sounds that have the potential to wake you during the night. A slamming door, a revving engine outside or a family member going to the washroom all have the potential to at least partially wake you, disturbing your sleep cycle. White noise prevents this. It’ll also help you stay asleep as it will mask noise that may wake you and even if you do wake, it’s usually easier to fall back asleep.
White noise also helps to shut off your brain. Have you ever tried going to sleep, only to have life’s problems replaying in your head? Or upcoming tasks lingering in your mind? White noise will help to prevent this, as well. It can also be a helpful tool while learning how to meditate, as it helps the practitioner focus and shut out the distractions that may prevent them from effectively reaching a level of meditation.
There are plenty of other benefits that I’m only just learning about, and the National Sleep Foundation has a great article that defines white noise and offers different aspects, such as falling asleep with your tv on and managing noise in your household in general. Here’s the article: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/hear/what-white-noise
I have all of the issues I’ve described above, so this has been a life-saver in recent nights and even during nap times. You can experience the benefits of white noise in a number of different ways, from downloading free apps on your phone that will produce it, all the way to paying moderate money for an actual “white noise machine”.
I use a free app on my iPhone called Noisli. What’s nice about it (besides being free) is that it allows you to experience a variety of sounds such as rainfall, thunder, leaves blowing, rustling trees and has all three “Noise” options including White, Pink and Brownian. It allows you to blend and mix all these sounds to your liking, which means you can have a rainstorm with thunder and heavy blowing winds, if that’s your go-to relaxing sound.
At the end of the day, sleep is one of those things that will affect every other aspect of your life. If your sleep routine sucks, it WILL affect your health, appetite, work and fitness life… all of it! That’s why it’s so important to have a regular and consistent sleep routine (going to bed around the same time every night) and ensuring your sleep is profound and deep. You can take advantages of the methods I’ve described above without breaking the bank, or don’t be afraid to take advantage of sleep therapy if you find that it still isn’t happening for you.
This is one of those things that you have to try for yourself in order to be the judge. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for a nap! ☯