White noise is a type of sound in which all frequencies are combined at equal intensity, often described as a monotonous ‘shh’ sound. This sound, similar to continuous and repeating sounds in nature, masks environmental noises providing a more comfortable sleep environment. However, to fully understand the effects of white noise on sleep, we need to be knowledgeable about our sleep cycles and brain functions.

Sleep consists of two main stages, NREM and REM, and the brain is especially sensitive to external sounds during the NREM stage. This can lead to sleep disruption. White noise masks external sounds, making it harder for the brain to perceive them, thereby allowing a more uninterrupted sleep process.

Benefits of White Noise

Comfortable Sleep with White Noise: Does It Really Work?

Scientific research suggests that white noise can stabilize neural activity in the brain and reduce micro-awakenings caused by disruptive sounds. It is thought to synchronize brain waves, leading to deeper and more restorative sleep.

Potential Harms of White Noise

However, like any technological solution, white noise also has potential harms. Some studies show that white noise can disrupt sleep and damage hearing. The noise during sleep can cause changes in heart rate and may keep a person in a semi-awake state. Continuous exposure to white noise can reduce sensitivity to other sounds from the environment.

Comfortable Sleep with White Noise: Does It Really Work?

It is recommended especially for babies and adults not to place the white noise machine too close and to keep the sound level below 70 decibels. Additionally, risks such as babies becoming dependent on white noise and being unable to sleep independently should be considered. Therefore, using white noise in a balanced way and turning to other sleep aids when necessary is important.

The benefits and risks of using this method to improve sleep quality should be carefully evaluated.

Source: PubMed, The Guardian , Sleep Foundation

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