If you’re familiar with white noise machines or apps, you know they are often touted as sleep aids to help cure that incessant mid-night tossing and turning.
Particularly if you’re sensitive to noise, having a steady hum to “drown out” other “peak” disruptive sounds such as a dog barking, or a door closing is believed to be calming to the listener and is often something people turn to as a way to improve sleep quality.
Related: 9 reasons you can never get enough sleep.
But now it turns out those sounds of streams, waterfalls or heartbeats may actually not be helpful to your sleep cycle and may even be doing more harm than good. Research from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia reviewed 38 existing studies of relationships between white noise and similar broadband noise and sleep, and found that it may negatively impact hearing.
While there is some evidence to suggest white noise may help you fall asleep faster, the sound may actually prove more disruptive to your sleep. These findings go against the method’s popularity.
Lead researcher Mathias Basner explained that it’s probably a good idea to allow your auditory system to wind down, so it can regenerate and prepare for the next wake period.
White noise apps are now pretty common, and the method is often favoured by new parents who may have a hard time getting their wee ones to sleep.
The study suggested additional research is needed before white noise can be recommended as an effective sleep aid. To get your best night’s sleep yet, our Slice Squad on the other hand does recommend sleeping with your dog, by way of personal experience.