If you’ve ever struggled with falling or staying asleep, you probably feel like you’ve tried every trick in the book to get some shut-eye — and white noise is probably one of them. Many people swear by the static sound, like the whir of a box fan running, to lull them into slumber, but according to research, you might be better off with a different color of sound.
Pink noise, which is a more even and flat sound, can enhance your brain activity while helping maintain deep phases of sleep. “Pink noise is often found in nature, such as waves lapping on the beach, leaves rustling in the trees, or a steady rainfall,” according to Berkeley Wellness at the University of California. Other examples include rustling leaves, wind, and heartbeats.
That all seems pretty soothing to us, but a 2019 study from Northwestern University actually confirmed it. Researchers observed participants overnight on two separate occasions: one with and one without pink noise. In the mornings, the individuals were tested with a list of 44 word pairs to see how many they could remember from the day before. After the night with pink noise playing, the participants were able to recover two or four more of the word pairs than on the night without it.
It might not sound like a significant memory boost, but how often have you found yourself racking your brain to remember that one important thing from the day before? These results show that a little pink noise might be the key to freeing yourself from that frustrating feeling. It’s also backed by an earlier study published by the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in 2017, in which researchers used a similar pink noise method and not only observed the same promising improvement in memory, but an overall deeper level of sleep.
Although both studies were admittedly small, they make compelling cases for listening to pink noise the next time you hit the hay. You can find playlists online, like Spotify, or invest in a sound machine like the Dreamegg ($29.99, Amazon). Either way, it can’t hurt to give pink noise a try and see if you’re able to give your brain a boost while you rest!
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