What Is White Noise?

Have you ever struggled to fall asleep? If so, there is nothing to be ashamed of because this is a pretty common phenomenon. Lack of enough sleep can have negative implications during the day, especially if you have to work or go to school. It can also hurt your physical and mental health over time. With apparent side effects, many people have resorted to using white noise to help them fall asleep. 

In this article, you are going to learn about: 

  • What is White Noise?
  • Pink noise versus white noise 
  • Choosing a white noise machine 

What is White Noise? 

White noise is a kind of noise produced by blending sounds of all different frequencies at once. Think about all the imaginable sounds a human being can hear and put together, and you will have white noise. 

Frequency is a word used to refer to how fast the waves vibrate per second, and power or amplitude is the size of the particular waves.

While frequency is measured in Hertz, amplitude or power is measured in decibels. Noises are defined by colours – blue noise, white noise, grey noise, and Brownian noise, among others. The relationship between amplitude and frequency of a sound wave defines different noise colours, which share the same structural properties with corresponding eponymous light waves. 

For a white noise to form, every frequency a human can hear must be played in random order at the same amplitude. 

The corresponding eponymous light waves are also believed to be consisting of every visible wavelength on the colour spectrum, just like white noise is composed of every perceptible frequency. Black noise, on the other hand, is a verbatim sound of silence.

When sound consistency changes from soft to loud abruptly, it can be enough to interfere with your sleep. 

White noise creates a blanket of sound that covers the sudden change in sound consistency to prevent sleep interruption.

Thanks to its audibility, white noise can help people who do not like to sleep in a silent environment to fall asleep. 

Due to the fact white noise contains all different frequencies, it is often used to mask other types of sounds. 

For instance, if you are in a hotel and sounds from next door disturb you, consider turning on a fan to help drown out the unpleasant noises. 

How white noise masks other voices

One way to explain this, imagine two individuals are talking simultaneously. Your brain can only pick out one voice out of the two, listen to it, and comprehend it. This can be the case even if three or four people are talking at the same time. 

It is like when 1,000 people speak at the same time, it sounds like white noise. But if, let’s say, 1,000 people are speaking at the same time. Your brain cannot pick out one voice from the thousand voices. So when you turn the fan on, it creates 1,000 voices that your brain cannot pick out. 

White noise is useful in hospitals. The environment in hospitals is usually loud and filled with kinds of noises that can interrupt sleep. 

Pink noise versus white noise

White noise is usually likened to an air conditioner or a whirring fan, but these devices do not produce white noise, though the impact on your ears cannot be distinguished. 

A sound produced by a fan might be a different colour of noise, like pink noise. 

If you remember the definition, white noise is characterised by equal power or amplitude across all frequencies. On the other hand, pink noise reduces by half when frequency doubles. As a result, we have a blend of intense and low-frequency sounds and softer high-frequency tones. 

Unsurprisingly, many people tend to find pink noise a little bit pleasant compared to white noise. And this is backed by factual evidence, as pink noise has been found to have sleep benefits. According to one study, pink noise can reduce brain wave activity, thus making your brain less active during the early stages of the sleep cycle. 

This can reduce sleep onset, increase sleep duration, and enhance overall sleep quality. 

Pink noise also tends to be soothing. 

Red noise is another sound that is talked about a lot when discussing white noise and pink noise. Unlike white noise, red noise tends to increase in frequency but to a significant extent. As a result, it produces low rumbling audio. 

On the other hand, blue noise increases intensity as frequency spikes, leading to more stress on high tones and less on low tones. 

What is the best noise colour for sleep? 

The best noise colour for sleep depends on your personal preference. Remember, some people can’t sleep in a noisy environment while others must have noise to fall asleep. 

How to choose a white noise machine 

If you like to fall asleep to a pleasant hum of white noise, you should consider getting a white noise machine or a sound machine. This device can create a soothing bedroom environment to enhance healthy, prolonged sleep. 

Moreover, this machine can also produce other noise colours, including pink, blue, and red and deliver ambient and regular sounds like crashing waves and chirping birds. 

When buying a white noise machine, it is vital to consider the following factors: 


Because this is something you will be putting in your bedroom, it should be lightweight and compact and small in stature. Generally, those are the characteristics of white noise machines, and some are designed for road trips. 


White noise machines are traditionally affordable, and you can find one with less than a $100 budget. These, of course, are designed to perform essential functions, so if you want one that offers a variety of selection of colour noises and sounds, you should go for a bit of bit expensive models.


To create a continuous listening experience, a white noise machine should loop at the beginning and end. But if you tend to fall and stay asleep quickly, you should buy a model that stops when the recording comes to an end.

Sleep timer 

Alternatively, you can get a machine with an in-built timer that can automatically shut off after a specified time has lapsed.