What colour should you be falling asleep to?
What is it about the sound of rain falling, ocean waves, crackling fireplaces, and ASMR that make people want to fall into a deep sleep? At first, it may seem counterintuitive to have more noise in your room at night but trust us on this one...
The older we get, the more we struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, even if you have the perfect bed. Why? Well, it could be for a number of reasons and varies by person, but let's have a look at some of the most common.
· Exposure to sunlight helps our bodies maintain the circadian rhythm as it tells the body when to increase and decrease melatonin levels. The more sunlight your body gets, the better your body will produce melatonin when it’s time to go to sleep. Older people, especially those in nursing homes, are less likely to spend prolonged amounts of time outside, thereby impacting the ability and quality of sleep.
· Health conditions e.g., anxiety, depression, heart disease, diabetes and pain causing conditions such as arthritis. Some medications contain stimulants, so it’s worth checking and if they’re keeping you awake at night, speak to your doctor about other alternatives.
· Decrease in physical activity, be that from no longer going to work or the gym, plays a huge part in your sleep schedule! If you aren’t moving your body and tiring yourself out physically, you’re going to end the day with a surplus of energy or you can be so overtired from doing nothing, you’re going to struggle to sleep.
· Napping in the daytime! Research reveals that an estimated 25% of older adults take naps, compared to an estimated 8% of younger adults. The best nap length is 10-20 minutes, and longer and you’ll fall into REM sleep and wake up feeling cloudy headed. Daytime naps, especially long ones, can make it trickier for you to doze off in the evening.
How do they work?
Loud noises themselves aren’t to blame for waking us during the night, yes they’re annoying, but it’s more so the sudden change in noise which wakes us. For example, if you fall asleep to the noise of a busy street, it’s a constant sound and you’ll eventually drift off, but if there’s a sudden change in sound like a bang, you’ll be (rudely) awoken.
White, pink and brown noise work by masking the external noise pollution and allowing our brains to relax and listen to a more consistent, soothing sound.
Let’s take a look at the different types and colours of sounds.
It’s a combination of noises that share the same frequencies, resulting in a steady humming sound that can help to mask brain stimulating sounds. White noise is often likened to TV static or the sound of an untuned radio. Studies have shown that white noise significantly improved sleep for people who experience difficulty sleeping due to high levels of environmental noise, such as those in urban areas.
Not named after a colour, but rather Robert Brown (coincidental, right?) a botanist alive during the 1800s who founded ‘Brownian motion’. Brown noise is formed of all audible frequencies that we can hear and process, but the bass is far more prominent than it is in other colours. Brown noise is likened to the deep roar of far away thunder, or the sound of water falling at Niagara Falls.
Pink noise is a random collection of all the audible frequencies, similar to white noise, but each pitch is 3 decibels lower with each higher octave. Many people claim that pink noise resembles sounds we often find in nature like rain, steady rivers, and ocean waves. It’s a lot less jarring and gentler to fall asleep to than both white and brown noise.
The autonomous sensory meridian response is a relaxing, often sedative sensation that begins on the scalp and moves down the body. Also known as "brain massage," it's triggered by placid sights and sounds such as whispers, accents, and crackles. It’s a phenomenon that took over the world by storm, with thousands of online creators making ASMR videos for their viewers to enjoy. Not everyone who listens to ASMR enjoys it, with some people saying it triggers their misophonia.
Whether you listen to these sounds to transcend into dreamland, or to block out noise pollution, they can help to vastly improve your quality of sleep. Continuous listening to these sounds will not only help improve your sleep, but over time your body will associate them with feeling relaxed – great if you want to use them to reduce day to day stresses and anxieties.
If you find yourself struggling to fall and stay asleep, try listening to our recommended sounds. If that doesn’t work, download a couple of mindfulness apps - Headspace and Calm are great – to your phone.
What colour sound will you fall asleep to tonight? Let us know at @FeneticTrading on Twitter and @feneticwellbeing on Facebook!