OPINION: WKU Wellness: colorful noises

Vidhi Parekh, Commentary writer

Noises –  I know they can be quite distracting, especially when you’re trying to study or even sleep. Whether that is from external sources like the TV or  internal like those endless questions ruminating in your head about whether you finished your homework or if you turned off your hair straightener. 

However, there are also some noises that can help you maintain hyper-focus, relax and turn off those thoughts, depending on your situation. 

White noise, brown noise and pink noises are just a few out of a long list. Here are some of the benefits of each type of noise. 

White noise

White noise sounds like a radio tuned into an unused channel. Some people compare it to the hum of a traditional fan. Regardless of how one may describe it, white noise has been effective in improving sleep quality. The buzzing sound of a radio can actually take us into a trance of focus and peace. 

How does this work?

Essentially, white noise helps us obtain environmental comfort that may not be found under certain circumstances like ongoing construction and the chatter of students on their way to class. This type of noise can be used for taking a nap or getting some deep sleep. 

Moreover, white noise covers the frequencies of sound across the spectrum. Think of it loosely in terms of wavelength. The white color covers all wavelengths of light. Similarly, white noise covers all frequencies of sound. 

Changes in sound frequency can cause you to wake up. Luckily, any change in frequency sound while you are sleeping will be blanketed by the white noise. Hence, you can continue getting sleep without waking up. 

Of course, make sure your alarm is louder than your white noise player because it may be difficult to acknowledge the alarm amidst the all-frequency encompassing white noise. 

Pink noise

Another type of noise is pink noise. This has been proven to show positive improvement in work performance. This entails a higher efficiency in doing a task. Pink noise sounds approximately like a medium rainfall or the gush of a close by river stream.

Brown noise

Brown noise sounds soothing and relaxing, much like sitting in an airplane where you can hear the plane fly. It has a much deeper sound than pink and white noise.

Brown noise is also gaining popularity among people suffering from ADHD. It has the potential to turn off your endless thoughts by helping you drown out the background noise. 

It is important to note that participants of one study did report disturbance, specifically from brown noise. Hence, be careful from listening to the colorful noises at uncomfortable levels of volume. It is important to maintain balance in everything that you do.

Another thing to note is that the descriptions of the sound will vary from person to person, but essentially, at some level, they all sound like a running fan or rushing stream of water, with subtle differences in frequency. 

At the end of the day, no research is available to prove that a specific type of sound is better than the rest because each frequency can stimulate the brain in different ways. Hence, choose the sound that gives you the most comfort.

I hope this helps you get more restful sleep or even a new way to focus during your next study session. 

Vidhi Parekh: Commentary writer Vidhi Parekh can be reached at [email protected].