White noise is the new counting sheep when it comes to its status as a go-to sleep aid. The National Sleep Foundation tells us: “If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, creating a constant ambient sound could help mask activity from inside and outside the house. In your bedroom, white noise can be created by a sound conditioner, a fan or an air purifier, anything that is a consistent and soothing backdrop throughout the night.” You’re looking for a white noise generator that’s slightly — okay, significantly — more advanced and effective than a fan or an air purifier (and certainly more state-of-the-art than counting sheep!). Well, look no further than your smart phone.
Types of sound masking
White noise is simply all audible frequencies the human ear can hear, playing simultaneously and at equal intensities. As the National Sleep Foundation mentioned, the power of white noise lies in its sound masking capabilities. The static-like sound of white noise blocks out disruptive sounds by decreasing the difference between background sound and “peak” noises (like a car honk or a dog bark).
But pure white noise isn’t the only sound capable of producing sound masking effects. A 2015 study conducted by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute investigated the effectiveness of different types of sound masking techniques. The study revealed natural sounds — like that of a flowing mountain stream — could be just as effective as white noise at blocking out unwanted sounds. Notably, half the subjects in the study said they preferred the sound of the flowing water over white noise for sound masking purposes.
Recent studies link natural sounds to relaxing effects on our bodies and minds. Specific natural sounds like those of the ocean can help people attain better quality sleep and fall back to sleep quicker, studies suggest. And in a study of people with sleeping difficulties, participants chose the sound of a flowing brook as their top sound to listen to while falling asleep because of its “pleasant emotional effect.” In the study, listening to the sound of the babbling brook resulted in a significant improvement in subjects’ sleep quality.
So natural sounds have the potential to be both sound masking and pleasantly relaxing. Better than a plain white noise generator, then, might be sound masking technology that employs natural sounds.
Hour-long sleep sounds playlists with sound masking power
Sound masking technology and techniques have come a long way from the simple static of sheer white noise through a plain old white noise generator. Now your phone and other smart devices can access entire, soothingly melodic playlists composed of far more pleasant sleep sounds that naturally mask disturbing noises.
A Berlin-based team of artists, developers, and scientists collaborated to create an innovative new sound engine called Endel. The adaptive sound technology of Endel generates real-time personalized soundscapes to align body + mind toward sleep, relaxation, and focus. Endel bases its core algorithm on circadian rhythms (our natural sleep and wake cycle), pentatonic scale (scientifically linked to promoting relaxation), and … — yep, you guessed it — sound masking!
Using this technology, Endel just released five sleep sound playlists on Apple Music and Spotify. These playlists are composed solely of sounds scientifically proven to help you achieve more restful sleep. Sounds like falling rain and gentle breezes intermingled with calming pentatonic notes will gently lull you into dreamland.
Click the “play” button below to preview the Rainy Night and Foggy Morning playlists (then click “listen” if you wish to view the album on Apple Music or Spotify).
Soothing Sleep Sounds: Rainy Night Playlist Preview
Soothing Sleep Sounds: Foggy Morning Playlist Preview
A personalized sound masking app to replace a White Noise Generator
The Endel iOS app — now available worldwide — delivers personally-tailored sounds that promote and enhance desired states. If the state you’re desiring is deep, restful sleep, Endel delivers a soothing, adaptive backdrop to aid sleep whenever you need it. How does the Endel app create personalized sleep sounds just for you? It incorporates several personal inputs into its algorithm — including heart rate, weather, location, and time zone. This means it generates sounds that are appropriate and relevant to you, wherever you are.
So yes, white noise generators have come a long way. But the power of white noise remains the same: to mask unwanted sounds.
Knowing you can access sound masking technology through soundscapes as natural, pleasant, and effective as those of Endel, why wouldn’t you? Endel takes sound masking to the next level to the degree white noise ousted counting sheep.
Come into the new age of sleep-enhancing sounds; sleep without interruption. Wrap yourself in the relaxing, naturally sound masking sounds of Endel’s playlists and app … They can insulate you against disturbing noises as wool insulates you against a chill.
Download Endel from the App Store here or via the button below.