What is white noise and how can it help you sleep?

Surely you know someone who claims that, in order to sleep, you need to sleep with the television on in the background. Many others say that the sound of rain helps them fall asleep. And they may be right, as more and more people are turning to white noise to rest.

Its popularity is such that specific applications have even been designed for smartphones and other electronic devices that generate these types of sounds. Used to sleep, meditate or concentrate, they have become part of the daily life of a large part of the population. But what exactly is white noise? And above all, is there evidence of its benefits?

What is white noise?

To understand what white noise is, we can establish a simile between color and sound. White is the sum of all existing color tones. And likewise, white noise is the mixture of all audible frequencies. It is a sound that stimulates most of the auditory sensory cells, so it is perceived as monotonous, constant and uniform.

These types of sounds are present in nature. The rain falling, the wind blowing or the waves of the sea are clear examples of white noise.

But, in addition, we find it in many other everyday situations of life. The sound of the hair dryer, a tuned radio, or the continuous thump of some appliances They also fall into this category.

There are devices that emit white noise, designed to help you fall asleep.

Keep reading: How noise affects your mood

Positive effects of white noise

The main positive effect of white noise is that it acts as a wall of sound that masks the rest of the environment. That is, it prevents other stimuli from being detected or reaching the cerebral cortex. This creates a pleasant and relaxing effect that reduces arousal and alertness. In addition, it has been shown to improve cognitive abilities.

We have always assumed that the best way to reach a state of concentration is silence. However, a study carried out with students in the process of learning a foreign language casts doubt on this claim. And it is that young people obtained better results in listening comprehension when white noise was used in the background.

On the other hand, It is used in training aimed at recovering from hearing loss. And, in the same way, it has been proven that it can be useful to improve certain symptoms of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Not all affected areas benefit from its presence, however, it improves concentration and reading and writing speed in children.

Sleep thanks to white noise

Definitely, It seems that white noise can be useful to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. And this is because it acts as a buffer for external sounds.

Let us bear in mind that hearing is a sense that does not turn off during sleep. This allows us to remain alert to possible dangers and guarantees our survival. However, it can also cause your break to be interrupted by external noises, such as traffic, pedestrians, or road works.

Sleeping with white noise in the background prevents these sounds from being perceived, thus ensuring continuity of sleep. For this reason, it is an interesting alternative for those who suffer from insomnia of onset or conciliation.

Similarly, it is often used to help babies rest when they are restless. It seems that this continuous thump reminds them of the environment experienced inside the womb and generates a sense of tranquility and security.

It is particularly positive for those who suffer from tinnitus or tinnitus. The constant and disturbing beeps experienced by those with this condition seem to increase at the time of going to sleep, because all around there is absolute silence.

White noise could, then, alleviate this perception. But in addition, in some investigations it has been used as a sound therapy, reducing or eliminating tinnitus.

The use of white noise for babies is justified in the reproduction of their uterine environment.

Find out more: How noise affects our health

Do you have contraindications?

Despite all the above, there is still not enough scientific evidence for or against the efficacy of white noise to improve rest. Its use is being studied, since its effect is not the same in all people.

Additionally, it is possible that sleeping with white noise can be harmful to hair cells. These are the ones in charge of capturing the sounds, so the natural repair process could be impeded in the event of any damage to them.

To use it or not to use it?

For the same, we must be cautious in using this resource to help us sleep better. We can use it in a specific way and making sure that the sound is not too loud. However, if we suffer from a sleep disorder, it is best to go to a specialist.