Snoring: Doctor explains how to sleep better at night
If you’re a light sleeper, or you find it difficult to fall asleep, any disturbances can make a peaceful night’s sleep seem like a pipe dream. Don’t despair, there are techniques to settle you into a deep slumber.
The Sleep Foundation explained how the “change in sound consistency” is what causes people to wake up during the night.
For example, if a door slams shut, it’s the shift from a soft to loud noise that can interrupt your sleep.
In order to counteract a sensitivity to sounds in the environment, white noise can provide a “blanket of sound”.
This can mask any sudden changes in sound consistency, meaning it’s easier to fall – and stay – asleep.
There are white noise machines available which can mimic the sound of a rushing waterfall or wind blowing through the trees.
They’re also known as a sound machine, and they “promote healthy, high-quality sleep”.
For some people, they respond better to what is known as “pink noise”, such as the sound of a whirring fan.
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Pink noise van also “reduce brain wave activity”, meaning the brain becomes less active during the initial stages of the sleep cycle.
“Pink noise can decrease sleep onset, extend sleep duration, and improve overall sleep quality,” said the Sleep Foundation.
What’s the difference between white and pink noise?
Although the effects on sleep may be similar, white noise “must consist of all audible frequencies played randomly at the same amplitude”.
Pink noise, on the other hand, has an amplitude that “decreases by half every time the frequency doubles”.
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Frequency and amplitude
Frequency refers to “how fast the [sound] waves vibrate per second, measured in hertz”.
Amplitude (also known as power) refers to the “size of the [sound] waves, measured in decibels”.
It’s the relationship between frequency and amplitude of a sound wave that determines the “colours” of noise.
To illustrate, white noise consists of “equal amplitudes across all frequencies” meanwhile pink noise has an amplitude that “decreases by half every time the frequency doubles”.
Speaking to the Cleveland Clinic, Dr Michelle Drerup commented on pink noise.
She said: “Pink noise is generally safe and a good idea for anyone who wants to try it.”
However, the use of pink noise (such as the sound of a fan) can’t make up for bad sleep hygiene.
“You need to make sure you get enough hours of sleep, have a consistent sleep schedule and don’t overdo it on caffeine,” added Dr Drerup.
Good sleep hygiene
The NHS notes the importance of a “regular bedtime routine” to programme the brain and internal body clock.
“Most adults need between six to nine hours of sleep every night,” said the NHS.
“By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.”
However, it’s key to wake up at the same time everyday – even days you have nothing planned – to ensure you have good sleep hygiene.
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