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What is white noise and why is it so powerful?


White Noise

White noise has many benefits. Listening to it can help you concentrate while working and studying and help you fall asleep. It is also widely used by parents to calm their babies and it can also help you if you have ADHD, if you have learning difficulties or if you suffer from Tinnitus.

What is White Noise?

White noise is what you get if you combine all the different frequencies of sound, with equal intensities, at once.

This is what white noise sounds like:


The name white noise comes from the analogy to white light, which contains the whole spectrum of colors of light.
White noise is similar to the sound of the rain, a rumbling waterfall, rustling leaves, a fan or a static TV. White noise can also be produced digitally or it can come in form of so called white noise machines, which are physical devices that produce white noise.

The Benefits of White Noise

Since white noise contains all the different frequencies it has the capability to mask other sounds.
Just imagine you’re in a silent room at night. You will immediately hear a big truck passing by or a loud noise from your neighbor. However, if you’re listening to white noise, any additional noise just adds up to all the other noises and you won’t notice it. It’s like sitting in a cafè; if there are just a few people you might eventually be able to hear their conversations, but if the cafè gets more crowded, all the conversations just become background noise.

White Noise masks other distracting noises

When to use White Noise

Listening to white noise has various applications but it is especially helpful in certain situations and for certain type of people or tasks.

1. During Work

One of the biggest issues that employees encounter in their work environment is noise.
No matter if you’re working from a cubicle, from the newly designed open office plan or from your local co-working space. Disturbance by loud co-workers, general office noise or noise caused by incoming notifications from various devices have a tremendous negative impact on your productivity.

Listening to white noise through your headphones can effectively block out your co-workers and any other annoying noises in order to restore your privacy and create an environment of peace and calm where you can focus on your tasks.

2. For Studying

Not just workers but also students suffer from annoying noises in their environments. Kids can have a hard time focusing in class, but also in the library or at home while studying.

By listening to white noise they can mask other noises and therefore prevent to get interrupted by their siblings or other classmates. Especially in places where it is generally very quiet, like the library, white noise is great to create a continuous buzz of background noise which will help to stay alert and concentrated.

3. As a Sleeping Aid

Our lives are busy and buzzing and can give to some of us a hard time to wind down at the end of the day. One third of american adults suffer from sleep deprivation. A lack in sleep has a negative impact on your mood (higher irritability), your immune system (loss in ability to fight off infection) and your brain. Your ability to concentrate, to take in new information or to make critical decisions is highly reduced.

White noise is therefore often used as sleeping aid, helping you fall asleep and preventing that you’re getting disturbed by other noises. As specialist in sleep disorders Thomas Roth, PhD, puts it: “It’s the inconsistency of sound or silence that’s disruptive”.
Another interesting aspect is, that our brains naturally crave for sensory input, says Ralph Pascualy, MD, and thus white noise both blocks out disruptive sounds and provides just enough noise to secure a good night’s sleep.

4. During Meditation

For the same reasons white noise can be used during meditation. Listening to white noise will satisfy the craving of sensory input and help to wind down your mind and find a state of peace and calm. White noise helps to relax and to boost concentration which can be helpful for relaxation exercises or during mediation exercise where the aim is to train your attention.

5. For Babies

Many parents rely to white noise when it comes to calming down their crying baby or helping to fall asleep. How come? Before birth, the baby was used to a lof of different noises such as the heartbeat, respiration and digestion of the mother. All those noises came in form of white noise. Playing white noise to your baby creates a familiar and calming environment which helps the baby to calm and fall asleep.

6. For people with ADD or ADHD

People that suffer from ADD or ADHD have a hard time paying attention and concentrating. External distractions and annoying noises can be an extra challenge for them since they are more easily distracted by their surroundings. Listening to white noise can effectively help to block out this annoying noises and help to create a distraction free environment. This will allow them to concentrate better, improve the cognitive function and increase overall productivity.

7. For people with Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a condition where people hear a ringing or buzzing in the ears. Between 50 to 60 million people in the United States suffer from this condition. It is mostly noticed when things are quiet around, such as in silent rooms or at night. Since studying, concentrated work and sleeping require most of the time a more quiet environment, white noise can help to mask the noise coming from Tinnitus and thus help to minimize it’s impact.

Want to try some ultimate focus? Yes, please.

Avatar photo Written by Sabine Staggl

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