I’ve been a light sleeper for years, but the older I get, the harder it’s gotten to avoid having the slightest sound disturb my rest during the night. The rattle of an air duct register. The crack of a branch falling outside the window. The thud as a squirrel pounces onto the roof.
Over and over, little noises have woken me up and the only solution I found was to use ear plugs. Twisting the foam pieces and inserting them into each ear was the only way I could get blissful quiet all night long. But over time, my sensitivity to latex caused irritation, so I could only tolerate occasional use.
My doctor prescribed a sleeping aid, but I didn’t want the possible side effects or to be dependent on pills. The body-scan meditation helped me fall asleep, but did nothing to help me stay asleep. I was grateful that my hearing was still good enough to catch such slight sounds in the night. Still, I needed to get more than a few hours of sleep at a time. My health and well-being depended on it.
Then I remembered the white noise machines that came out decades ago. Some had a number of options, from the static-like white noise to the sound of gentle rainfall or ocean waves. A quick search yielded a wide array of smart phone apps that do the same thing and a lot more at a fraction of the cost (or for free). What did I have to lose?
I downloaded an app that has a long list of sound options. There’s a heartbeat, an oscillating fan, and a clothes dryer (not sure that one appeals to me). It also has sounds of nature like crickets chirping, a cat purring, creek water flowing, light or heavy rain, and waves crashing onto the beach. Even a thunderstorm (again, that one wouldn’t be my cup of tea). Then there are wind chimes, the rhythmic sound of a train ride, and a Tibetan singing bowl (love using that one during meditation).
In addition to those types of sounds, there is a rainbow of types of white noise. Merriam-Webster defines white noise as a “mixture of sound waves extending over a wide frequency range…a constant background noise…that drowns out other sounds.” My new app has the option of choosing white noise, brown noise, blue noise, violet noise, and pink noise (my favorite).
According to a study cited by The Atlantic magazine, pink noise helps promote deeper sleep. I don’t understand all the science behind each sound color’s frequency range. I just sampled each one and liked the pink noise best. I set the volume on my phone, set the timer to 8 hours, and it worked!
No more ear plugs. No more waking up dozens of times during the night. I’ve found a way to use noise to protect me from sudden noises so I can finally catch some z-z-z-z’s. Now I’m sleeping like a baby!