There’s nothing as refreshing as a good night’s sleep, especially after a long and tiring day. Often, however, instead of falling asleep immediately after our head touches the pillow, we find ourselves having to count lambs or name countries in order to drift off into sleep. Today more than ever, we find ourselves sleeping less and waking up feeling tired, irritable and disoriented.
But all’s not lost—an interesting and novel kind of sound, called pink noise, has recently been shown to help people fall asleep faster. In fact, pink noise also helps you experience deep sleep, the kind of sleep that makes you wake up feeling energized and ready to take on the world. Read on to find out more.
What is deep sleep?
Have you ever woken up from a nap feeling extremely groggy and lethargic? That’s probably because you were enjoying a period of deep sleep, or Slow Wave Sleep (SWS). Deep sleep is an important part of the sleep cycle, which consists of five different stages and which can be categorized into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep.
What is deep sleep, then? It occurs during the third and fourth stage in non-REM sleep. During these sleep stages, your brain waves, heart rate and breathing slow down considerably, and your muscles also relax. During stage 4, tissue growth and repair takes place, and important growth hormones are also released. Deep sleep is vital to improving your memory and helps you wake up feeling refreshed.
How much deep sleep is required each night?
You may hear often that you need 8 hours of sleep every night, but people often overlook the actual quality of that sleep. Sleeping well means going through several complete sleep cycles every night, making sure that you get sufficient deep sleep. How do you know if you’re getting enough deep sleep? If you find yourself feeling tired or lethargic after you wake up, you’re probably not getting enough deep sleep.
This could occur because you’re being disturbed by noises, or aches and pains. A good way to coax your body and brain into deep sleep is by shutting out all distractions and calming your minds. Pink noise – a type of soothing ambient sound – can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy longer intervals of deep sleep.
What is pink noise and how is it different from white noise?
Pink noise is nothing but ambient sound, but it is different from its more famous cousin, white noise. White noise is intense and high-pitched: the noise of a running fan or a very loud air conditioner are both good examples. Pink noise, on the other hand, is low-pitched and steady: think rustling leaves or the steady pitter-patter of rainfall.
As opposed to in white noise, high frequency sounds in pink noise are diminished, and low frequency sounds are amplified. What you hear is deeper and more soothing and enveloping. This gentle rhythm lulls you into sleep and then helps you stay asleep by drowning out startling noises like car horns or music.
A 2017 study by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, a leading scientific journal, found a link between pink noise and deep sleep. According to the study, pink noise increases slow wave activity (SWA) in the brain in the third and fourth deep sleep stages. The same study also found a connection between pink noise and improved memory.
Where do I find pink noise?
Pink noise is easily accessible, and you don’t have to go to great lengths in order to be able to enjoy it. Here are some places to find it:
If you live in or near nature, the sound of rainfall, waves or rustling leaves are available to you for free. All you have to do is open a window and listen to the sounds outside.
If you live in a city or would like a steady stream of pink noise, online sleep apps are your best bet. Many sleep apps offer a range of sounds and let you combine sound categories to create a mix that meets your needs. You can pick from nature sounds, city-based sounds, meditation sounds and a host of other options from their sleep sound libraries.
YouTube and music services
If you don’t want to download more apps, pink noise is also freely available on YouTube or music applications like Spotify or Apple Music. You might not have the same level of configuration of apps, like sleep timers or combining sounds, but there’s an inexhaustible number of pink noise playlists available a simple search away.
Home remedies for deep sleep
If you’re spending half the night tossing and turning in bed, you’re probably not about to sufficient deep sleep. Here’s how to get deep sleep at night so that you wake up feeling rejuvenated:
If you’re sleeping on a mattress that is as hard as a wooden plank or bumpy like a pothole-riddled road, you need to show it the door. A firm but soft mattress will help your body maintain its natural posture while you sleep. Fewer aches and bumps will have you feeling less disturbed at night.
Switch off (everything)
We don’t mean just the lights, phone and television. You must make an effort to switch off mentally too. Don’t focus on that presentation that you’re making tomorrow, or replay anxiety-provoking situations in your head. Instead, follow some home remedies for deep sleep like sipping on a cup of chamomile tea, having a warm bath, and listening to soothing sounds.
Embrace sleep aids
Even if you do all the right things before bed like turn off your phone, hit the bed at a fixed time every night, and exercise regularly to tire yourself out, you might still find it hard to doze off. If this is the case for you, one solution is to use sleep aids. Melatonin sleep supplements can help you relax and nudge your body into sleep mode. Check out Setu’s Melatonin Orally Dissolving Mint Flavoured Strips here.
What happens if I don’t get enough deep sleep?
An insufficient amount of deep sleep can lead to health issues like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes and other complications. It also impacts your ability to memorize things and stay alert.
Are melatonin supplements safe?
If you’re opting to consume melatonin supplements, ensure that you pick a reputed brand that offers nature-based supplements. It’s also a good practice to discuss your decision with a registered health practitioner before starting any supplements.
Do naps during the day affect my sleep?
While short naps can boost performance and reduce fatigue, long naps can interfere with your sleep quality. Taking long naps during the day can make it difficult for you to fall asleep at night and may even reduce deep sleep durations.