You often hear people talking of ‘background’ noise as something needed in order to allow them to concentrate, or relax. If you are easily distracted by noise (or certain noises at least) you may be surprised to know that there is quite a science behind how our brain interprets various frequencies of noise.
Because of this, there is quite the market for noise machines, plus in units that create a ‘blanket’ of noise to help block other disruptive sounds to allow you to focus, or relax, more easily. In fact, sound machines have become a popular natural option to help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
The Nightingale Sleep System is one such product that is designed for easy setup and control to provide the types of noise that help block surrounding, disruptive frequencies. This article explores the physics behind the use of beneficial noise, how we interpret it, and a quick review of the system in question.
How We ‘Hear’ Noise
What we hear is due to both the mechanical workings of our ears, as well as the neurological processing of the information. The physical ear is made up of the outer, middle, and inner ear sections which work together to transfer sound waves.
The outer ear includes the eardrum which vibrates upon the entry of sound, which then transfers across the middle ear through three tiny bones. The sound then reaches the inner ear, upon which it is transferred to the cochlea which helps send the sound to the brain via a series of nerves for translation.
Humans don’t hear all sounds that exist. In fact, we only hear the sounds that fall between 20 and 20,000 Hz, with ranges from 1,000-5,000 Hz providing the most clarity due to our own speech falling within these ranges. However, this embodies literally millions (perhaps billions) of sound variances that we can recognize.
The Physics of Sound
Sound waves are just as the name describes: these are waves of sound that have variances in both intensity and volume, defined by the ‘height’ of the wave, as well as frequency, or amount of waves within a set amount of time. The frequency of the sound wave also influences the pitch, or quality of sound that makes it higher in tone, or lower. The more frequent the wave, the higher the pitch.
Sound also has a spectrum of color, similar to the spectrum of light. Just like white light is a combination of all colors in the visible spectrum, white noise is a blend of the sound frequencies available to the human ear. This noise generally all comes together in a random order, but all on the same level of intensity.
What, Exactly, is White Noise?
As explained above, white noise is called such due to the relation of sound to light in that when all combined together it creates what is described as ‘white’. The combination of many sounds across many frequencies is called white noise.
White noise can be purposefully created to help mask other sounds. This is due to how our brain recognizes different noises. It can only pick out so many sounds at any given time, and when white noise is being used you can effectively block out those sounds you may not want to hear- such as music from the neighbors, people talking in a hotel room, the snoring of a sleeping partner, or the bark of dog- for example.
Certain products, such as fans, may create a similar effect of white noise, such as a fan or an unused radio station. But a white noise machine is much more effective to create a consistent ‘blanket’ of noise to cover those that might be disruptive to your focus or rest.
Importance of Sleep
Getting the proper amount of sleep each night is critical to your overall health. Through the night your body cycles through sleep stages required for both physical and mental rejuvenation. Disruptions to these cycles can leave you feeling tired, drained, and out of focus. Over time, consistently poor sleep can even influence health issues.
Healthy adults should make it a goal to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, with children younger than 18 exponentially needing more. With the crazy hustle and bustle of most adult lives, getting anywhere near the recommended amount seems like a stretch. This means that the amount you do get needs to be quality, uninterrupted sleep.
– The Benefits
Getting quality sleep has many benefits, such as lowered blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and the likelihood of depression. It also provides a longer attention span, better memory retention, and faster healing and recovery from injury. With these types of perks you can NOT pay attention to the quality of sleep you, or your children, are receiving.
Children, in particular, are especially susceptible to distractions due to the rate of their growth, increasing awareness of the world around them, and even hormones and socialization in teenagers. This all can lead to disruptions in sleep patterns and poor sleep habits that can be difficult to break, creating tired, cranky, and moody or sullen children.
Luckily, there are many solutions to help reset sleep cycles as well as influence a better rest. The use of a sound machine that uses white noise, other calming sounds, or a mix of the two can be very beneficial. Since many people wake in the night due to sound disruptions, this is one area in which you can have some control.
Benefits of White Noise on Sleep
The use of white noise or some other consistent sound during rest has many benefits. As you sleep your brain continues to register and process sounds– which keeps your brain and body from falling more deeply into a regenerative state of relaxation.
Very few places are free from all noises. Noise pollution in highly populated areas is common, and although more rural areas may be quieter, there are still regular nighttime sound disruptions that occur.
White noise reduces your brain’s ability to recognize the noises that can wake you from your sleep, and allows you to stay in a deeper state of rest. As mentioned above, adults are not the only ones who suffer from poor sleep. Babies in particular often struggle to settle due to various influences and their own cognitive growth and awareness. Studies done on the use of white noise, particularly with neonates, have has great success in helping babies fall asleep more quickly.
Other Benefits of White Noise
White noise is also beneficial in many other areas of focus and relaxation. Use it for meditation to create a peaceful environment and mental clarity, or even help to increase concentration when studying or trying to accomplish a physical task. Those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) have also claimed that the use of white noise helps calm and focus them when working on specific tasks. Vertigo sufferers also have noted a marked improvement in their symptoms when white noise is used as well.
However, it is important to note that white noise is not the only noise that can have health benefits or create a soothing atmosphere. Just like the color has a spectral array, so does sound, and those other ‘colors’ of sound may have even greater effects on sleep and focus.
Is ‘White’ the Only Soothing Color of Sound?
White is far from being the only ‘color’ of noise, and the sound is commonly broken down into a few more popular ‘colors’ to use for beneficial reasons. Occasionally white is too static sounding, or overly loud to some people – making it a poor choice for relaxation. The following colors are those commonly used in sound machines to help provide a soothing effect. It is important to note that everyone perceives sound somewhat differently and what works for one person may not work for another.
– Pink Noise
These sounds are deeper and found in lower frequencies. They are not quite as loud or harsh as white noise and are reminiscent of a low rainstorm. Studies have found pink noise to increase the deepness of sleep for many people.
– Brown Noise
Similar to ocean waves, rainstorms, and heavy winds, brown noise consists of deeper tones and are repetitive in nature and are similar to what they are named for: the Brownian motion- a random movement of particles in a liquid.
– Gray Noise
Tinnitus is a condition that creates a ringing or buzzing in the ear. Gray noise is often used to help alleviate the discomfort of this to provide a better focus. The sound is similar to pink noise overall and can help with this issue.
– Green Noise
Other ‘colors’, such as blue and violet utilize higher frequencies and pitches, such as the spray of a hose nozzle. These are not often commonly found as a long term calming solution, although may work for some people. Orange is considered somewhat cacophonous, and covers a wide range of frequencies at different moments. And black is considered the absolute absence of sound, which in and of itself can be somewhat unnerving rather than relaxing.
Many people rely on music or the television to help lull them to sleep or cover up other background noises. The problem with this is that your brain is still functioning as you sleep and is working to recognize and comprehend sounds (there is also the problem with bluelight). Variances in volume, tone, and frequency can also create disruptions, and many people end up feeling tired and more sluggish the following day than if they had slept without any sounds.
Many people use this type of background noise believing it helps them sleep. They may even use this to help their children fall asleep. But another problem with this approach is that they eventually get turned off, creating a break in any consistency there may have been – which can awaken the sleeper as well.
If you feel that sound is needed to help provide a blanket of noise for your sleep, then you may want to consider a sound machine. A sound machine provides a consistent color of sound to help block background noise and doesn’t change frequency or volume in any great significance- allowing you a much less disruptive atmosphere. The Nightingale Sleep System is a decent choice that provides you easy portability and various options from which to choose.
The Benefits of the Nightingale Sleep System
As detailed above, a sound machine can be very beneficial in creating a more relaxing atmosphere in which to sleep. The Nightingale Sleep System was created to be a convenient product to run from an app for complete control. The system itself looks like a regular wall outlet and plugs directly into your existing outlets without blocking, or otherwise taking up the existing outlets in use.
It is designed to allow you to use it as a regular outlet, all while providing a blanket of sound within the room it is placed in. They can be used as a single system or in tandem to create a more consistent sound coverage. Below is a quick overview of what this system offers.
– Setup and Programming Controls
Setup is simple in nature and only requires you to plug the unit into the wall upon which a voice guide will prompt you to download the app to your SmartPhone (available in both Apple and Android systems). You can then connect the units via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to personalize the settings with some simple prompts. This is a nice touch as it takes into consideration adult vs child bedrooms, flooring surfaces, window locations, and any medical conditions you may have (such as snoring, tinnitus, etc).
The above setup creates a profile for the room the unit (or units) are within, and generally defaults both a white noise as well as another choice to the “sound blanket”. You then have complete control over this profile to add various other sounds, control volume, schedule when it turns on and off, and even change the lighting. Some of the sound choices include, besides the white noise, are whale songs, crickets, waves, forest wind, and rainstorm. You also can pick and choose from various illuminating colors.
– Compatibility and Portability
What is pretty cool about this system is how it can tie to various other smart home products. You can connect it to products such as Ring, Amazon Echo, Hue, Nest, and Google Home to provide you a visual warning of room temperature increases, severe weather, and alarm motion detection- amongst other things. Of course, all of this incompletely controlled by your connection via your phone, allowing you to customize your overall experience.
The simple, plug-in design makes it easy to bring with you during travel as well. At only 4.3” inches in height, 1” thick, and very lightweight- it is an easy to pack product to provide you an easy solution to the distractions that often occur when sleeping in unfamiliar places.
There are a wide variety of sound machines available in the sleep industry- all claiming to do something similar concerning noise. The majority of the designs plus easily into the wall and provide various sound options, and are simple machines made specifically for creating a blanket of noise to use in various situations.
The Nightingale Sleep System designs in entirely unique, however, in both how it plugs into your wall, dispurses sound, and connects wirelessly for both control and to other Smart Home systems. This is definitely advanced technology compared to other, simple, stand-alone plugin systems. Because this is has a price range that is, at the time, significantly higher than other options. When viewed as a Smart Home product addition, it falls within a decently moderate price range altogether.
The one-year limited warranty covers manufacturers defects. Since this is not a unit you are going to be rough with, it pretty much covers any problems you may have. Customer service is considered to be easy to get hold of and work with for problem-solving and troubleshooting.
Using a background sound of some sort while you sleep can be useful for a variety of reasons. Not only can it create a relaxing, more peaceful atmosphere, it can also block background noises that may often be disruptive. White noise, in particular, is a helpful assembly of frequencies all together to create a blanketing noise for various uses and focus. Other ‘colors’ of noises are just as effective in many cases, and sound machines often have a good selection of options for you to choose from.
The Nightingale Sleep System is a unique sound system that plugs directly in over your existing wall outlets and is controlled via a SmartPhone App. Not only does it work to provide a better sleep, but it also ties into many existing Smart Home systems to provide even more diversive use.