Insomnia: ‘Coloured noise’ helps you sleep

Almost two thirds of Brita surveyed about stress said that they were ‘unhappy ‘ with the amount of sleep they were getting. As we enter Stress Awareness Month, this worrying stat highlights the importance of a good nights’ rest for our mental and physical health.

You may think complete silence is what you need to get some shut-eye. But a fascinating study by AXA PPP healthcare found that certain sound frequencies can help you drop off.

The research team  recorded three naturally-sourced audio tracks from around the UK, tuning and trimming their sound frequencies, relating them to colours. They say the result is deeper, more effective, sleep.

Their poll found that almost two thirds of people they surveyed (63 per cent) are unhappy with the amount of sleep they get and only 8 per cent of people state that they always wake up feeling refreshed – not even one in 10!

According to Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services at AXA PPP healthcare, “some noises can actually help us get to sleep by making us less conscious of our immediate environment, which allows our mind to relax in a way that’s similar to the process involved in meditation”.

So how do noises correspond to colours?

White noise – constant ‘shhh’ sound

White noise works by reducing the difference between background sounds and a ‘peak’ sound, like a door slamming, giving you a better chance to sleep through it undisturbed. Typically, white noise is a constant ‘shhh’ sound, which is like a bright, mix of frequencies. These frequencies are often likened to the restful sound of waves hitting the shore. AXA PPP healthcare has associated it with the sounds heard on Trwyn Llanbedrog beach in North Wales – the UK’s favourite coastal sound, perhaps due its hypnotic quality.

Pink noise – turning up the bass on white noise               

A busy London overpass has been matched with pink noise frequencies – which is similar to white noise but with the bass turned up. As well as the rumble of traffic, rainstorms have a pink noise frequency. The 24-hour activity of modern cities feels at odds with our need to sleep – but what if we could take that energy and use it to help us relax?

Brown noise – a deep, rolling rumble

Kielder Forest may not seem to have many sounds at first, but the sound of the wind blowing through the trees can be likened to the frequency of brown noise. Brown noise is an even deeper version of pink noise; a deep, rolling rumble that can often go unnoticed.

Unfortunately, noise cannot always be avoided. The poll also found a quarter of adults surveyed said that they were losing sleep due to noise from their neighbours.

For this reason, Tim Antos, founder of Kokoon, designed sleep-aiding headphones to help block out unwanted noise.

“From the moment we wake, our lives are filled with noise. Whether you’re trying to relax or just can’t sleep, audio is one of the best ways to help us naturally unwind and switch off. Sleep clinics prescribe thousands of audio based techniques daily and millions of us use audio to relax every single day.”

To listen to AXA PPP healthcare’s coloured noise recordings, visit the website, and find your secret to a better night’s sleep.



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Editor in chief Suzi Dixon studied at Bournemouth university, went away for a while to work at The Daily Telegraph, then moved back to the sunny South coast for a quiet (er) life. Bournemouth News & Info is her website and she is assisted by the fabulous Fred From France in all things geeky and technical. Hire us to make your website, too, if you like.

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