White Noise vs Pink Noise: What’s the Difference?

October 22, 2021 @ 8:10 am

White noise vs pink noise: what’s the difference?

For most new parents, a good night’s sleep might seem like a distant memory. New-born babies will sleep on and off throughout the day and night and disturbed nights can be incredibly difficult.

Don’t worry though, it doesn’t last long and there are many things out there to help you and your baby including white and pink noise. White and pink noise could just be the solution you need to help your baby drift back off into a peaceful slumber.

If you’re sitting there reading this wondering what on earth white and pink noise is and how they will help you and your baby rest peacefully, don’t worry – we’ll explain all in this post.

What is white noise?

White noise is the name referring to a combination of sounds of all frequencies audible to the human ear. It gets its name from white light, which is a blend of all visible light wavelengths at equal intensity.

Because white noise is produced by randomly generated noise spanning the whole sound spectrum, it can be compared to radio static, a hairdryer, or the hum of an air conditioning unit. Some people find this noise soothing, whilst others can’t stand it!

What is pink noise?

Pink noise is essentially white noise, but with reduced higher frequencies. Instead, pink noise uses a consistent frequency, or pitch, to create a more ambient and even sound and has been compared to rainfall or leaves rustling in the wind, meaning it’s a much more soothing sound. The consistent frequencies help to filter out higher pitched noises and therefore make pink noise more relaxing than white noise.

What’s the difference?

The main difference between pink and white noise is that white noise consists of equal energy per frequency whereas pink noise consists of equal energy per octave. This results in pink noise sounding more ambient than white noise, because more energy is allocated to the lower frequencies in pink noise.

Now that the science bit is over, you’re probably wondering how both white and pink noise can help your baby sleep better. Let’s take a look at the benefits below.

Benefits of white noise

A study published in 1990 found that white noise could be really helpful in getting your newborn off to sleep. The study found that 80% of newborns fell asleep within five minutes of white noise being switched on.

While the most obvious benefit of white noise is aiding your baby’s sleep, there are many other benefits too.

Masks environmental and household noises

Disruptive sounds such as barking dogs and noisy traffic don’t usually wake your baby up because they are loud. It’s usually because the change in frequency and consistency is strong enough to disrupt your sleep.

White noise works as a wall, helping to mask these consistency changes meaning your baby won’t notice them and wake up suddenly when they do occur.

Works as a sleep aid

White noise doesn’t just help drown out disruptive sounds, but it also works as a sleep aid, helping your baby drift off to sleep in the presence of its dulcet and soothing tones.

Easily transportable

The great thing about white noise and white noise machines or apps is that they’re incredibly portable, so you can move rooms with them or take them with you on family vacations.

There are plenty of great, free apps out there to download for white noise so next time your baby is struggling to sleep, why not give it a try?

Benefits of pink noise

Much like white noise, pink noise acts as a steady background noise that helps to give you and your baby a better night’s sleep. The main difference between the two is that pink noise offers uses lower sound waves, so it’s considered more soothing than white noise.

Masks environmental and household noises

Just like white noise, pink noise helps to mask any environmental background noise that may wake your baby up meaning it may help them to fall asleep faster and keep them in a deep sleep longer.

More stable sleep

New parents want nothing more than their bundle of joy to sleep as much as possible throughout the night and, as one study has found, by having pink noise on in the background while your baby sleeps, that it lowered brain activity and led to a more stable sleep.

Another study found that babies who listened to pink noise whilst sleeping also slept more deeply.

May improve your child’s memory

Pink noise has been associated with supporting and enhancing children’s memory functions. That’s because memory depends on a good amount of deep sleep.

Although research is limited in this space, one study from 2013 found that pink noise contributed to a deeper sleep and improvement of memory function.

Which one is right for my baby?

This all comes down to personal preference and how your baby reacts to both pink and white noise.

Everyone’s brain responds to sound in different ways so it’s important you experiment with sleep sound apps or pink and white noise machines to test which one helps soothe your newborn baby.

Conclusion

White and pink noise may be a great temporary fix for a baby that doesn’t sleep well, but it isn’t a miracle cure.

Remember, babies under 6 months old will likely only wake in the night if they need feeding or are feeling discomfort so don’t expect them to sleep solidly through.

If you are worried about your baby’s sleeping pattern, we always recommend consulting your midwife or healthcare professional who will be able to show you some tips and tricks to help you soothe your baby off to a deep slumber.

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