How To Sleep Better With White, Pink and Brown Noise

4 Min Read | By Sophie Fessey

Last Modified 31 March 2023   First Added 3 February 2022

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Noise is noise, right? Wrong! Noise is continuously changing or varying in pitch. Believe it or not, there is a rainbow spectrum of noises you never even knew existed. From white, pink, brown, and blue, each noise has its own frequency and benefits for a good night’s sleep.

What is white noise?

Similar to white light, which is made up of all different colours, white noise is a combination of all different sound frequencies. White noise is the basis of masking any background noise.


White noise examples include:

  • a humming air conditioner
  • radio or television static
  • a whirring fan
  • a hissing radiator

These types of background noises are distractions to the brain, giving it something to focus on other than silence. Not only do adults benefit from the sound of white noise when going to sleep, but infants and babies are known to doze off easily and quickly to the sound of white noise.

What is pink noise?

In contrast to white noise, pink noise consists of less intense sounds. Instead, these sounds are more soothing and calming and have a different approach to improving your quality of sleep. They help you relax and detach, switching your brain into ‘power-off’ mode.

Pink noises are generally natural sounds including:

  • crashing waves
  • the rustling of leaves
  • rainfall

Not only does pink noise help you to sleep better but it can help you feel more rested when you wake up.

For many people, pink noise is the main noise tone people listen to which helps with sleep as the lower tones are considered less stressful for bedtime.

A 2012 study suggests that those who listened to pink noise while sleeping achieved greater levels of deep sleep compared to those who slept in a quiet room.

What is brown noise?

Brown noise has higher energy at low frequencies, making it deeper than white and pink noise. Some examples include.

  • Thunder
  • Load roaring
  • Strong waterfalls

Brown noise and white noise are very similar sounds and may become confused to the human ear. However, there isn’t enough research to say brown noise is as effective as white noise for helping with sleep. That said, there are plenty who believe brown noise helps you relax, concentrate, and focus more.

Why do different colour noises help you sleep?

  • They help create a night routine: Building a wind-down evening routine to help your body and brain to switch off after a working day is important. Not only does this apply to adults but babies and youngsters as well. Exposing white noises in front of infants encourages them to stop crying and fall asleep at a quicker rate.
  • They help train the brain: There are multiple ways in which we can help our brain switch off before bedtime. Listening to white noise can help the brain relax as it focuses on different sounds rather than any external stressful thoughts inside our heads.
  • They switch up focus from our thoughts to the repetitive noise: Often, our brains can go into overdrive at bedtime. We can start to run through what happened throughout the day and this can prevent our bodies from preparing for sleep. Having a noise to focus on can help switch our focus and allow our body to go through the processes it needs to trigger sleep.

Other types of noises to aid sleep

Blue noise

Blue noise is the opposite of brown noise, consisting of all treble and no bass. This type of sound is used to minimise distortions during sound engineering.

Black noise

Black noise is used to describe silence. Similar to the colour black being the absence of light, black noise is the absence of sound, as it does not project any power. While the below may sound completely silent, there are very small amounts of noise at frequencies our bodies can barely contemplate. It’s believed that these almost inaudible frequencies do help shift our focus, mostly subconsciously. We’ll leave it up to you decide whether you think it helps sleep or not!

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