White noise is used to fulfil many different functions today, with white noise machines being used for eliminating office noise, settling infants and to enhance meditative states amongst other things. However, it is acknowledged that one of the most prominent uses is as a sleep aid.
White noise machines can perform many tasks when an individual uses them to be able to get to sleep, including the following:
- Block the snoring of a partner or other individual in the same household. This can be a major problem for people who sleep next to a snorer or indeed have mutual issues in that area. Snoring is obviously a problem that can rarely be medically corrected and yet it has a very disruptive effect on sleep. By using a white noise machine, you can block out the other person’s snoring so that the noise will not keep you awake or indeed wake you up.
- Block the sounds from a road, pedestrian area or industry nearby. This is useful for someone that lives in an urban area or works nights and so has to sleep in the day. In much the same way as it can aid sleeping next to a snorer, a white noise machine can provide a steady stream of pure white noise to block out the sounds outside a room. Roads, other forms of transport, noisy neighbours and loud noises in general can be overcome so you can sleep soundly.
- Encourage an uncluttered mind to aid sleep. Nothing has the ability to keep people awake like stress does. Stress and anxiety, from something as serious as worrying about a job or family member to something as minor as making a to do list for the following day, can keep you awake all night if you cannot clear your mind. White noise stimulates areas of the brain that do just that. According to research, white noise actively helps the brain to relax, allowing stress to disappear quickly and encouraging you to sleep better.
- Encourages an elevation of the arousal threshold. The arousal threshold is the level of noise that will disturb your sleep. So, for example, if your partner whispers in your ear softly then that is probably under your arousal threshold meaning that you will remain asleep. However, if a car crashed into a tree right outside your window then that would probably exceed your arousal threshold and wake you up. White noise can raise that threshold so that fewer noises wake you, meaning that you are more likely to have an undisturbed night of restful sleep.
An individual may not suffer from a low arousal threshold, stress or noise either inside or outside of the house. He or she may experience one, several, all or even none of the above but a white noise machine will aid sleep regardless.
Proof That White Noise Aids Sleep
Although the role of white noise machines has already been established through sales and thus popularity, it has also been established through various research and trials. There have been plenty of studies that have proved that white noise machines can help people of all ages to sleep.
There has been a range of studies since the turn of the Millennium that prove that a white noise machine can help people of all ages and dispositions to sleep better than they would otherwise be able to do. For example, a 2008 study conducted by Central Michigan University in the United States found that white noise would help the 33% of 313 students answering the questionnaire that usually took longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep to cut down this time period. It was determined that it would also help the 43% of student respondents that woke up more than once per night to achieve restful and undisturbed sleep. Similarly, a 2005 study conducted jointly by the Rhode Island Hospital and Brown Medical School found that white noise was able to help patients in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) to sleep better and so also aid in recovery by raising their arousal threshold.
There have also been focus groups with night shift workers, particularly nurses, that offer positive results in favour of white noise when it comes to sleeping. A 1996 study at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio found that 45 intensive care nurses were able to sleep better after their 12 hour night shifts by using white noise machines. It also concluded that they were able to improve their job performance and make fewer mistakes as a result. This highlights the massive benefits that a decent night’s sleep offers and just how investing in a white noise machine can help you to achieve such benefits.