The Sound of White Noise

Have you ever tossed and turned in an attempt to get to sleep when suddenly a fan from the heating or air conditioning unit switched on, and with its low, continuous hum instantly put you at ease? Or have you ever tried to console a crying baby by turning on a shower, hair dryer or even the vacuum cleaner?  If so, you may already be aware of the soothing effects white noise has on some of us. Pure white noise is a conglomeration of all audible frequencies of sound (up to 20,000!) in equal amounts. It is almost like white light which we know to be the combination of all colors of light. It has been known to mask annoying, disruptive noises, help people fall asleep, put some into a deeper meditative state, clear the mind, calm finicky babies, and even reduce the unpleasantness of tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Why does white noise produce a feeling of calm in us and how can we use it in our bodywork therapies?

One of the most helpful things that white noise does is masking disruptive sounds. How does it do that? Imagine being in a room with one person talking to you. Most likely your mind would focus on that person’s speech and you would hear most everything they said. Now add to that room 100 more people talking to you all at the same volume. Do you think you would be able to distinguish between all of those voices? No! A single voice would be lost in the crowd. Much like a single sound would be lost in white noise (a combination of all frequencies of sound). That’s why white noise is so good at masking other noises.

Imagine the benefits of masking disruptive sounds in your therapy practice. Your client is lying on a table in a private room trying to relax when a conversation from the reception area starts. Instead of focusing on her relaxation, your poor client can’t help but listen in on a dialog about a stranger’s day. Or if your practice has a waiting area close to the therapy rooms, you may encounter clients waiting for their services inadvertently overhearing private conversations you have with going on behind closed doors. What is the solution? White noise!  When a white-noise generator is running, disruptive voices and unpleasant noises are absorbed. Your clients will be more relaxed and you’ll be more relaxed knowing that your conversations and consultations are private.

The benefits of white noise are not limited to just true white noise. There are several other noises that produce a sense of calm. Sounds like ocean waves crashing on a beach, or a rain shower, or even crickets chirping on a summer evening can produce effects similar to that of white noise

Thankfully there are several ways to enjoy white noise. On the inexpensive end of the spectrum, you can simply tune your radio to a frequency between two stations, buy a cheap fan that has an appealing, calming hum, or maybe hope for a summer storm to pass through. If you are willing to spend a little money, you will find that there are several models of white noise generators on the market delivering several different options to produce a sound that is perfect for you. Some noise generators have digital recordings that have been clinically proven to enhance sleep, relieve stress, and focus with selections such as summer night, thunderstorm, stream, rain or ocean surf. These more expensive systems have programmed shut-off periods, gradual volume decrease during the end of the programmed time period, and other enhancements.

So if you’ve had enough of hearing the neighbors’ TV, listening to your partner snore, or you want to keep your conversations private, consider running some white noise. Pretty soon you’ll be able to relax more or even drift off to sleep.  Start with something inexpensive to see if white noise works for you. Invest in something more high-tech later on.

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