What is White Noise and Why is it Helpful?

Are you someone who sleeps better with a fan on or the sound of your heater or air conditioning running? White noise is soothing even for adults.

Pictured here is the Rohm- Travel Sleep Sound Machine

Pictured here is the Rohm- Travel Sleep Sound Machine

My husband frequently travels internationally for work. It’s typical for it to take between 12-24 hours to get to his destination, then he usually sleeps for a few hours and has to be up early the next day for work. Recently during one of his trips, he called me to say goodnight and mentioned how terribly he’d been sleeping. He said he wasn’t uncomfortable, he had just been tossing and turning all night. I suggested that he download a white noise app on his ipad and the next morning he reported having slept better! While it’s not a magic solution for sleep it can help give you that extra assistance transitioning through sleep cycles.

So what exactly is white noise?

White noise is the sound created when all the frequencies a human can hear are combined into one sound. White noise can help diminish other sounds such as noisy siblings, doors or cabinets closing, traffic sounds, dogs barking and other day to day noises that might startle a sleeping child in lighter stages of sleep.

“Interestingly, whether or not a sound bothers your sleep depends in part on that sound's personal meaning: researchers have seen that people are more likely to wake when a sound is relevant or emotionally charged. This is why, for example, a parent could sleep soundly through her partner's snores but wake fully when her baby fusses “ (National Sleep Foundation).

For a child, it’s beneficial for them to be exposed to day to day sounds and learn to sleep through them. Therefore, always place your child’s white noise machine at a safe distance from their sleep space and have it just loud enough to drown out daily sounds, this way it becomes more of a sleep aid and less of a sleep crutch.

Most sleep consultants, myself included, speak highly of Marpac’s white noise machines. Marpac created the first Dohm Sound Machine back in 1962! Today, their Dohm Sounds Machines are some of the most popular machines on the market, playing true white noise. They sound similar to a very large fan without the whole dry throat, watery eyes effect that would happen if you were sharing a room with a fan that’s portrayed by the sound coming from the machine.

When do I need to turn off my child’s white noise machine and when should we stop using it?

Here’s the thing, sudden silence is startling. Forget the timer setting and let the white noise machine play all night. While sleep crutches can often cause night wakings, a white noise machine used at an appropriate volume is not something you need to wean your child off of. As mentioned above, always place your child’s white noise machine at a safe distance from their sleep space.

If you’re in the market, click any of the above links or photos and check them out! Or find them on amazon.

Oh, and Marpac offers free shipping and returns.

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