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You’ve heard of white noise, and maybe even pink noise, but have you heard of the benefits of brown noise? Bed Threads Editor Rachael Thompson put it to the test.

| By Rachael Thompson | Wellness

Does Brown Noise Help With Sleep? We Tried It

You’ve heard of white noise, and maybe even pink noise, but have you heard of the benefits of brown noise? Bed Threads Editor Rachael Thompson put it to the test.

I've always been envious of people who fall asleep easily. You know, the ones who don't analyse the events of their day (or unhelpfully recall embarrassing moments from 15 years ago). Apparently, there are people who peacefully drift off and wake up after a delightful eight hours of rest with no late-night tossing and turning.

Meanwhile, I can't recall the last time I slept the night through.

As the Editor of Bed Threads Journal, I often write about sleep; whether it’s a piece on creating a beautiful bedroom, an interview with a sleep expert on what they do when they can't fall asleep, or a conversation with a doctor about how a lack of sleep can affect your mental health. I know how important it is to have great quality sleep, and I’ve been making efforts to improve mine.

The latest attempt? Brown noise.

What is brown noise?

Given how common sleep-related issues are, it's hardly surprising that the use of sound machines and sleep apps is on the rise. Whether you're a new parent desperately trying to get your baby to fall asleep, or you're studying for an exam and need help concentrating, you may be familiar with white or pink noise. And if you’re not: White noise is a random, constant sound that can be used to mask or block out other sounds and pink noise is a type of sound that is similar to white noise, but with an emphasis on lower-frequency sounds. Brown noise is a little bit different.

Brown noise is a type of low-frequency sound that mimics the sound of a gentle waterfall or a deep rumble. For me, it gives me the feeling of being in a cosy wooden cabin while a snowstorm rages outside – but the snowstorm never harms me... phew! It's been suggested that this sound can help calm the mind and induce a state of relaxation, which can be especially helpful for those who struggle with sleep issues – huzzah!

How To Use Brown Noise For Sleep

I wake up at the slightest sound, so I was intrigued as to how a sound could help me sleep. And if I was going to do this, I was going to do it properly.

I’ll always wait until I actually start to feel sleepy before I attempt to fall asleep – otherwise, there’s no hope! I found a brown noise playlist on Spotify, then put on my big Sony noise-cancelling headphones to block out any outside noise. Not going to lie, wearing massive headphones all night is not the most comfortable experience (don’t blame me if you wake up with neck pain!) but I’m such a light sleeper I need the big guns. And then we’re off.

I went straight in and played the sound the entire night. I found it soothing so there wasn't much reason for me to press pause, and I was committed. I did wake up a few times in the night (classic me), but I fell back asleep easily enough.

The Verdict

I’ve been doing this for the last three months now and love it! I personally feel that brown noise quietens my brain and makes things a bit more peaceful, ultimately allowing me to nod off quicker and stay asleep for longer. I keep the sound on all night and have noticed that when I do wake up I tend to fall back asleep faster than I used to.

Playing brown noise straight from the speaker of my phone still works much better than not having brown noise playing at all, but I’ve found that headphones work best for me as I need as little outside noise as possible. I’ll let the playlist run until I need to get up in the morning.

One reason I think coloured sounds aren't counterintuitive to sleep is that they are uniform and not triggering your brain to be alert –they’re predictable. As doctor of audiology Amy Sarow, AuD explains in an article published by Very Well Mind, the sound of brown noise triggers relaxation because of its similarities to the brain's resting state.

It's worth noting that the research on brown noise is still limited, and more studies are needed to fully understand its effects on sleep. And if you're struggling with sleep, the best port of call is your GP.

But even if brown noise has a placebo effect on me, I'll happily take it if it means I can get more solid, regular snooze time. If you're someone who regularly sleeps with a fan, loves the sound of rain at night or drifts off peacefully on a coastal holiday to the sound of lapping waves, I'd definitely give this one a go.

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