When you’re sleeping, your brain continues to register and process sounds. Noise can interrupt your sleep causing you to wake, move, shift between stages of sleep or experience a change in heart rate and blood pressure. It happens so briefly that you might not even remember it the next morning. Whether a noise actually disturbs your sleep depends on factors such as the stage of sleep you’re in, the time of night and even your feelings about the noises themselves.
Noises are more likely to wake you from a light stage 1 or 2 sleep than from a deep stage 3 or 4 sleep. They are also more disruptive in the second half of the night. Some people are just sound sleepers and noises don’t bother them. Scientists have found that these people actually have characteristic brain activity that makes them more impervious to noise. Recent research has even found that your personal connection to the sound makes a difference. That’s why someone might sleep right through a noisy bird outside the window, but jump up when their child cries.
If you’re someone who has a hard time sleeping through the various sounds of the night, you might benefit from white noise. White noise works by reducing the difference between background sounds and a “peak” sound, like a door slamming, giving you a better chance to sleep through it without being disturbed. If you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, the constant ambient sound of white noise could help establish a routine that allows you to fall asleep more readily. White noise can be created using a white noise machine, white noise app, a fan or air purifier – even a radio station on static – anything that is consistent and soothing throughout the night.
Here are five ways your sleep can benefit from white noise:
- Helps you build a bedtime ritual – Especially if you have trouble falling asleep, but even if you don’t, it’s a good idea to establish a routine before bed (both for children and adults).
- Keeps your bedroom quiet – For optimal sleep, you need the optimal sleep environment. White noise buffers disturbing sounds and creates a quiet sanctuary, regardless of your surroundings or sleep situation.
- Shuts down your busy brain – Ever have trouble falling asleep because your “To Do” list won’t stop buzzing, or personal worries keep you awake? White noise can help.
- Helps you stay asleep – By masking sounds that might interrupt your sleep, white noise protects your peaceful slumber. And if you do happen to wake up, it’s often easier to fall back asleep.
- You’ll sleep more soundly – You may not realize how many times you wake up each night. But even if you don’t remember it in the morning, those little interruptions affect the quality of your sleep.