The noise spectrum is full of different colours…but which one works best for you? (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)
Could ‘green noise’ be the magic cure to all our sleeping problems?
Maybe not completely – but it certainly might help.
We’ve all heard about white noise, and then brown noise (a lower frequency sound) came into the periphery to solve our sleep issues – something it’s clear many of us need as, according to research, 36% of adults struggle to fall asleep at least once a week.
But there’s now a new colour on the scene. It’s called ‘green noise’, and it’s taking TikTok by storm.
At the time of writing, TikTok’s #greennoise hashtag stands at around 916,000 views, and just last month the term was searched on Google more than 32,000 times worldwide.
While it’s not a new concept, green noise is rising in popularity, with interest in the coloured sound rising by 425% over the past five years – especially among those dealing with insomnia.
So what exactly is it? And how can it benefit us?
We spoke to sleep experts to find out more about green noise and whether it can actually help us get a better night’s sleep…
So, first of all, what is it?
Green noise is a variation of white noise found in the middle of the frequency spectrum – with a limited frequency range that sits around that centres around 500Hz.
‘But as its name suggests, many of the sounds are what we would as consider “nature,”’ Martin Seeley, the CEO and sleep expert at MattressNextDay, says.
‘Think of it like ocean waves.’
Green noise frequency is not particularly high and Martin explains that the higher the frequency gets, the more sensitive we are.
He adds: ‘So it is good for those who like ambient noise in the background when trying to sleep.
‘Some great examples of green noise can be the sound of water on a beach or trickling waterfalls – anything that is attuned to nature and promotes relaxation.’
So if you are struggling with stress in everyday life, this type of noise could help restore some sense of calm.
What are the benefits of green noise?
‘The benefits of green noise are wide-ranging, but one of the most notable is that it’s an excellent tool for helping people sleep due to it sounding really similar to the sounds of nature,’ Martin tells Metro.co.uk.
Mostly it has shown promise in enhancing sleep for older adults and improving cognitive performance, according to sleep expert Sarah Patel, the founder of Teach To Sleep.
It has also been shown to decrease cortisol levels (otherwise known as stress levels) in the body.
Many people tend to experience insomnia when they’re under a lot of pressure at work or school. However, Martin says that green noise helps eliminate some of that stress – so you can ‘relax more easily before bedtime.’
Green noise can also help to ‘mask’ or block out other sounds that might be keeping you awake at night, such as someone snoring or outside traffic.
For people with tinnitus (ringing of the ear), Martin suggests trying green noise at nighttime to help with sleep.
‘While it can’t cure tinnitus, green noise can help mask the ringing sound, therefore, making it easier for you to fall asleep,’ he adds.
Are there any other health benefits associated with green noise?
In addition to helping with sleep, green noise can also help with concentration, according to Martin.
He explains: ‘If you have ever been in a crowded room where everyone was talking loudly, and there was no way for you to concentrate on what you were doing, then you know how difficult it can be to concentrate on anything else other than what is going on around you.
‘The same goes for being in an area where there are loud noises like traffic or other busy places such as an airport or train station. Luckily, there are machines that produce green noise to help with this problem as well.’
Green noise can also help relieve anxiety in people who suffer from it, or even panic attacks.
‘This is because green noise has been proven to help regulate heart rate and blood pressure levels in people who suffer from these conditions,’ says Martin.
Martin’s top tips for using coloured noises to get to sleep:
‘Whether you are playing the sound out loud or through headphones give yourself time to adapt to the noise. It can take two to three nights to climatise, so don’t worry if you struggle the first night.
‘Choose a coloured noise playlist that works for you. There are many playlists on Spotify, so make sure to listen to them all before you find one that resonates with you the most. Apps such as Calm or BetterSleep also have green noise soundscapes.
‘Listen to the audio for at least 30 minutes before going to sleep. The longer you listen, the more time your brain has to reach the desired state of relaxation or calmness.
‘If possible, try using a sleep tracker that has a timer built into it so you don’t have to turn it off manually. When deciding the time, I would choose either 45 minutes or 1 hour, depending on how long it takes you to fall asleep.’
In terms of the optimum volume, Sarah notes that there are no official guidelines but a recent study with promising results saw sleepers use a volume of 46 decibels.
She adds: ‘If that doesn’t feel like enough, gradually increase the volume, but The Sleep Foundation recommends volume to stay below 85 decibels.’
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Forget white, another colour of the noise spectrum is gaining popularity.