Can pink noise enhance sleep and memory? Early research drives a color noise buzz | Health - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Can pink noise enhance sleep and memory? Early research drives a color noise buzz

AP | | Posted by Parmita Uniyal
May 21, 2024 12:50 PM IST

White noise and pink noise may provide small benefits for people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, according to a recent review.

You may have heard of white noise used to mask background sounds. Now, it has colorful competition.

If color noises feel calming and help you drown out distractions, it makes sense to use them. (Freepik)
If color noises feel calming and help you drown out distractions, it makes sense to use them. (Freepik)

There’s a growing buzz around pink noise, brown noise, green noise — a rainbow of soothing sounds — and their theoretical effects on sleep, concentration and the relaxation response. (Also read: What is green noise? Know its benefits for sleep and mental health)

Get ready to catch the final stages of the World Cup only on Crickit. Anytime, Anywhere. Explore now!

The science is new with only a few small studies behind it, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from listening to hours of these noises on YouTube and on meditation apps that provide a palette of color noises with paid subscriptions.

WHAT IS PINK NOISE?

To understand pink noise, start with white, the most familiar of the color noises.

White noise is similar to static on a radio or TV. Sound engineers define it as having equal volume across all the frequencies audible to the human ear. It gets its name from white light, which contains all the visible color wavelengths.

But the high frequencies of white noise can sound harsh. Pink noise turns down the volume on those higher frequencies, so it sounds lower in pitch and more like the natural sound of rain or the ocean.

Brown noise sounds even lower in pitch, giving it a pleasing, soothing rumble.

Pink and brown, like white, have standard definitions to audio experts. Other color noises are more recent creations with very flexible definitions.

WHAT’S THE SCIENCE BEHIND COLOR NOISES?

White noise and pink noise may provide small benefits for people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, according to a recent review of limited ADHD studies. In theory, it wakes up the brain, said ADHD researcher and co-author Joel Nigg of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

"The noise provides stimulation to the brain without providing information, and so it doesn’t distract,” Nigg said.

White noise has been used to treat ringing or buzzing in the ear, called tinnitus.

Scientists at Northwestern University are studying how short pulses of pink noise can enhance the slow brain waves of deep sleep. In small studies, these pink-noise pulses have shown promise in improving memory and the relaxation response.

Pink noise has a frequency profile “very similar to the distribution of brain wave frequencies we see in slow-wave sleep because these are large, slow waves,” said Dr. Roneil Malkani, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

If Northwestern’s research pans out, it could lead to a medical device to improve sleep or memory through personalized pulses of pink noise. But many scientific questions remain unanswered, Malkani said. “There’s still a lot of work we have to do.”

IS THERE ANY HARM IN TRYING COLOR NOISES?

If color noises feel calming and help you drown out distractions, it makes sense to use them. Keep them at a quiet level, of course, to prevent hearing loss and take "plenty of breaks for the ears to rest,” Nigg said.

Get World Cup ready with Crick-it! From live scores to match stats, catch all the action here. Explore now!.

Catch your daily dose of Fashion, Taylor Swift, Health, Festivals, Travel, Relationship, Recipe and all the other Latest Lifestyle News on Hindustan Times Website and APPs.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On