Noise Never Worked For Me – It Was Too Noisy!
Last updated: September 2023
When someone with insomnia begins speaking about their sleeping issues, one of the inevitable suggestions from well-meaning people is to use white noise to get more sleep. "Turn on a fan." "Turn on an app." Everyone has a suggestion for a favorite app, noise, sound, or YouTube playlist.
As if blocking out external noises had never occurred to us.
Why white noise never works for me
These various suggestions are meant to be helpful, of course. People care – or they want us to stop complaining. Sometimes I'm unsure. Regardless, on this one, I can say that for me, white noise never worked.
My clients generally have excellent "bedroom hygiene" – it's dark, cool, and quiet. Some people even tape their blinds to the windows, run fans, and listen to apps.
And nearly all have tried white noise. And it didn't work for them either – because insomnia tends to be driven from the inside and isn't the same as being woken up from the outside.
What are the different noise colors?
There are several different noise "colors," or combinations of sound frequencies, that are thought to help people sleep.
My own experience with white noise took a few spins around the block. White noise is described as a combination of frequencies that drown out other sounds.1
The evidence on the impact of white noise on sleep is very mixed as well.1
So I thought I would try pink noise! While pink noise is sometimes reported to help with sleep quality and be more soothing than white noise, I found I also "listened" to it.2
Pink noise includes gentle sounds like those in nature: rain, waves, or rustling leaves.2
I tried white and pink repeatedly. It didn't stop my inner chatter whatsoever, leaving me feeling frustrated. And then I would find it even more difficult to sleep!
Brown noise has more bass. It sounds more like heavy rain, or even thunder.3
I accidentally found that brown noise drowned out sounds during the day that could distract me. But again, it didn't do anything to stop the nighttime buzzing in my brain.
Listening to the noise kept me awake
I found brown noise actually distracted me from trying to relax for sleep. At all volumes, I was listening to it. Not that there was anything to hear, of course. I expected this at low volumes, as maybe my brain was trying to work out what it was, but not at more moderate volumes. I would have thought the sound was loud enough not to beg for attention in the same way.
But, I still listened to it.
Two strikes on the noise attempt. Multiply that by how many times I tried them and how many apps I used. They might block out sounds, which I find helpful during the daytime when I'm working at my desk. But at night they were a flop for me and my attempts to improve my sleep. They don't stop the inner battle when having a bad night of sleep, which is what drives insomnia for so many. If it were as simple as keeping the sounds out, nobody would have insomnia!
What color of noise have you tried to help improve your sleep? Did it help you? Please share your experiences with the community!
Do you experience painsomnia?