As you may have seen on social media, especially TikTok, green noise is the latest sleep aid for people with sleep disorders. But what is green noise?
Green noise is an ambient sound that mimics nature sounds. Being surrounded by nature has a calming effect on our nervous system. The sounds of birds chirping, ocean waves rising and falling, and the gentle breeze ruffling trees do wonders for the mind and body.
No wonder green noise helps people sleep well and improves their attention span. We’ll discuss green noise and its benefits to the human psyche. We will also explore other sounds similar to green noise.
Green Noise is a new colored sound discovery currently making waves for helping people fall asleep and stay asleep. It is a mid-frequency component of white noise, characterized by a flat energy distribution within the mid-frequency sound range. White noise has an even distribution of high and low frequencies.
White noise sounds similar to the static on a television, air conditioner, vacuum cleaner, or airplane engine. In contrast, green noise resembles the background noise of the natural world3. It is a sound masking other noises made by human activities (anthropogenic sound). Green noise often sounds like running water, wind rustling through the leaves of a tree or falling rain.
However, note that the green noise you listen to on various streaming platforms is not exactly natural sound. They are manufactured sounds that mimic the natural sounds of the world. Green noise’s frequency range is between 500 Hz and 5,000 Hz. It got its name from its similarity with the color green on the visible light frequency spectrum.
Although green noise lacks adequate research, we found some benefits of listening to green noise. Green noise masks other unwanted environmental noise adequately. You can use green noise to filter noise from outside sources, granting you a better sleep experience.
In addition, green noise has a calming effect on the mind and body. It slowly diffuses your racing thoughts, promoting relaxation. Many people have trouble falling asleep because their minds are wide awake with racing thoughts. We can't help but focus on our worries and anxiety sometimes. Thankfully, green noise can improve sleep quality.
In addition to helping people with trouble falling asleep, green noise might also improve your focus and attention span. A study conducted to confirm the effects of green noise showed it enhanced1 students' cognitive performance. It also reduces their mental stress.
Related read: Insomnia quotes.
As mentioned earlier, the color of noise refers to the strength and frequency of a noise’s frequency spectrum. Here are the other different types of noise on the color spectrum:
White noise, or broadband noise, has an even power distribution at all frequencies. It has equal power density, but our ears are not sensitive to various sound frequencies. The part we hear is on the higher frequencies, making it sound bright.
White noise is a statistical model for noise in acoustic engineering, physics, statistics, and telecommunications. It often sounds like television static, radio static, a vacuum cleaner, and a working fan. Also, the sounds of snare drums and cymbals have characteristics of white noise.
White noise frequency has a wavy pattern containing equal power intensities of sounds on higher and lower frequencies. Its audio signal is between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz. To the human ear, white noise often sounds like a hissing sound. Some musical sounds similar to the sustained white noise's hissing sound are called white noise.
White noise is the most popular ambient noise because it helps people fall asleep faster by blocking out other distracting sounds. However, ambient noise can damage children's hearing if it's too loud.
Pink noise creates sounds in a low-frequency band within the spectral density. However, white and pink noise are similar. They are broadband noise with all the frequencies (20 Hz and 20,000 Hz) humans can hear.
The only difference is that white noise produces sounds at a high frequency, while pink noise produces at a low frequency. Some examples are heartbeats, ocean waves hitting the shore, and the steady sound of rainfall. Some people might prefer pink noise to white because of its low frequencies.
Sometimes, the high frequency of white noises can be unpleasant to some people. Pink ambient noises are gentler to the human auditory senses2, helping you sleep better. Research suggests it is a valuable sleep aid to improve sleep quality, especially for people with trouble falling asleep.
Research also shows pink ambient noise might improve your memory retention because the brain stores them while you're sleeping. Listening to pink sounds in your sleep cycle can increase the slow wave activity associated with deep sleep in the brain.
Brown noise has deep low-frequency sounds. It is the sound frequency with the deepest bass. It increases the sound of lower frequencies and lowers sounds on high frequencies. Most people with sleep disorders use brown frequency as a sleep aid because it improves their sleep quality by blocking unwanted environmental noise.
There isn't enough research on brown noise, but some people speculate that brown noise improves the focus of people with ADHD. Brown noise was named by the Scottish botanist who discovered Brownian motion, Robert Brown.
Violet and blue noise are on the opposite sides of brown and pink noise on the sound spectrum. Blue noise is the opposite of its pink counterpart. It focuses on increasing the sounds on the higher frequencies. It also reduces the sound on lower frequencies. An example of blue noise is Cherenkov radiation and a hissing garden hose.
Cherenkov radiation is the electromagnetic radiation a charged particle releases as it passes through a medium with electric conductivity not equal to zero. Violet noise is similar to blue noise but has a higher pitch than the other color sounds.
Violet noise power density increases by 6.02 dB per octave. An example of violet noise is the background sound of hydrophones.
We've got you covered on ways to include the various types of noise into your sleep routine without getting a sound machine.
Spotify and Apple Music offer many green noise playlists for free. All you need to do is search for the type of noise you want to listen to. You can also watch green noise videos on YouTube.
However, Calm is a meditation app with an extensive library of green noise and other ambient sounds. You can listen to green noise on Calm App by downloading the app on iOS, Android, and desktop devices.
Sometimes, it is difficult to fall asleep; other times, staying asleep becomes a heinous task. Especially when you are going through difficult times, research suggests green noise can help you sleep. Getting a good night’s rest a few nights in a row can improve your life’s quality.
Select any green noise playlist from any platform based on personal preference to improve your sleep hygiene. Remember that loud noise can damage your hearing, so listen to green noise at low volumes.
Luo, J., Wang, M., Chen, B., & Sun, M. (2022). Exposure to Nature Sounds Through a Mobile Application in Daily Life: Effects on Learning Performance Among University Students. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Zhou, J., Liu, D., Li, X., Ma, J., Zhang, J., & Fang, J. (2012). Pink Noise: Effect on Complexity Synchronization of Brain Activity and Sleep Consolidation. Journal of Theoretical Biology.
Summer, J. (2023). What Is Green Noise and How Can It Help You Sleep?. Sleep Foundation.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.
Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.