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White Noise and Sleep

Posted by Lara Rintoul on

If you feel as though you’ve had a restful sleep yet still feel drowsy the next day, sound could be a possible reason.

While you sleep, your brain continues to register and process sounds on a basic level. Noise causes you to wake up, move, shift between stages of sleep, or experience a change in heart rate and blood pressure so briefly that you don’t remember the next morning. Noises are more likely to wake you from a light sleep (stages 1 and 2), than from a deep sleep (stages 3 and 4), and tend to be more disruptive in the second half of the night.

Even while you are asleep, your brain continues to register and process sounds.  These noises may disrupt your sleep by causing you to wake up, move, or shift between stages of sleep. You are more likely to be disrupted by sound during a light sleep (stages 1 and 2) rather than a deep sleep (stages 3 and 4), however, it can still have subtle impacts.

A few interesting facts are:

  • “Sound Sleepers” have characteristic brain activity that may make them more impervious to noise
  • Whether or not a sound bothers your sleep depends in part on that sound’s personal meaning; that’s why mothers wake up easier to a baby’s noise but may sleep through a fire truck siren.
  • Studies have suggested that long-term exposure to intense noise pollution could be associated with hypertension.

An easy fix to decrease noise disruption is to listen to white noise while you sleep. This could be a fan, a humidifier, or a white noise app on your phone. This creates a background hum and keeps a steady tone and volume that will drown out other noises. Earplugs may also work for some people. 

Another solution would be avoiding falling asleep with the TV on. Television is constantly changing in sound and tone unlike white noise. This causes more disruption and can be especially bothersome to your sleep. 

Contact CanSleep services for more information or to take a sleep apnea diagnostic test. 


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