World Sleep Day is celebrated annually on March 19 by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society. However, a day dedicated to sleep — could it get any better than that? And while we couldn't be more excited about celebrating it, the real significance of this day is associated with those suffering from sleep disorders. The day tries to spread awareness on the prevention and management of sleep complications, and there are far too many that go unspoken on a daily basis.
According to a report published in Indian J Psychiatry, India has population data for two disorders from the Indian adult population. One being Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), and the second is Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). Sleep problems have been investigated among Indian children more frequently through a variety of approaches, the most common through the questionnaire-based screening in school-based cohorts.
However, it is a given that the world divides itself into two sets of sleepers: heavy and light. If you fit into the former type, well, we're a tad bit jealous of the ability! Nevertheless, if you (like us) are a light sleeper, you already know the struggles of getting yourself to sleep amid the tiniest bit of noise in the background. Whether it is the neighbour's baby crying at odd hours or the lamp on in the adjacent room — light sleepers have it worst, and there's no one but us to testify the same!
Several have their very own tried-and-tested ways of falling asleep. Some prefer reading a book that helps them drift off, and others like a glass of warm milk before they are snug enough in their bed. But a large chunk also believes that music is a sure-short way to snoozeville. Now, we're not necessarily talking about heavy metal or electronic dance music, of course — but more on the lines of something known as white-noise.
"Sleep is a particularly vital pillar of good health. Especially today, when anxiety and uncertainty loom over our routine lifestyle, people turn towards a more induced way of getting sleep," says Ms Smita Murarka, VP Marketing & E-commerce at Duroflex. She mentions how Duroflex has come up with 'Sounds of Sleep', a digital series exploring music as a sleep aid. "Research has suggested that soothing music — something passed on by your parents or grandparents — really connects with children very well," she adds.
Smita mentions how music helps to get into a 'zone' and clears the mental backlog that we carry before hitting the sack. "There is white-noise, sounds of nature or Tibetan singing bowls that appeal to different kinds of people," she states.
What is white-noise?
Several enjoy drifting off to bed with the hum of low-, medium-, and high-frequency vibrations played concurrently at the same level of intensity. This type of music is known as white-noise.
According to Sleep Foundation, every frequency played to the human ear can be heard in random order at the same amplitude. This phenomenon results in a 'shh' sound that several associate with television or radio static. Just as white light is composed of every visible wavelength on the colour spectrum, white-noise consists of every audible frequency. Similarly, 'black-noise' refers to the literal sound of silence.
So, TL;DR: A lot of silence can also hamper your sleep — having a low-frequency sound playing around you can aid in masking irritants such as a leaky faucet or barking dogs.
Studies have proven white-noise to be especially beneficial for hospital patients and babies. It also mentions how a white-noise machine can reduce sleep onset for patients or the time it takes to fall asleep by nearly 40 per cent, as opposed to those who don't use these devices.
Another study also explores the effectiveness of white noise in improving agitated behaviour, mental status, and routine activities in older adults with dementia. However, there are several reasons why white-noise is beneficial to the human ear, and here are some of them.
1) White Noise Lite
3) White Noise: Sleep Sounds
If meditation music something you'd preferring dozing off to, White Noise: Sleep Sounds has precisely that on offer for you. Apart from the regular bank of sounds, this app has a timer system that slowly fades the audio to help you sleep well. What's better? You don't even need a data connection for this one!
Available on: Android
4) zzZ White Noise Sound Machine
Other than sounds, if a cute interface calls you, then we'd strongly recommend opting for zzZ White Noise Sound Machine. Interestingly, the app has included ASMR Sounds on its list. Some of our favourites include tapping, cat purring, hair cutting, hair clipping, tooth brushing, crinkle, scratching, gift unwrapping, candy unwrapping, Indian and Egyptian tabla.
5) Sleep Sounds - Sleep melodies & Calming sounds
Are you feeling creative? This app lets you create your very own white-noise mix that you can use before calling it a night. You can either pick out your favourite sounds from the preset list or create something of your own — yes, all of it without needing an internet connection!
Available on: Android
Other types of noise
Although hard to imagine, noise comes in diverse shapes, sounds and colours! Often, noise is referred to as something 'annoying' or 'unwanted'. However, the human ear doesn't always interpret all types of sounds as disturbing. Here are other types of noise that -- similar to that of white-noise -- that you should know of:
Pink noise: Second to white-noise, people prefer pink noise as it is a little less harsh to the ears. Sounds under this category include rainstorm or static with an extra bass-like rumble. Many-a-studies have also proven that pink-noise aids listeners achieve a deeper sleep
Brown noise: Brown-noise, in fact, is short for 'Brownian noise' because its signal echoes the pattern of erratic flow of particles in a liquid known as Brownian motion. It's a lower tone — more implicative of ocean waves. Several people find Brown-noise beneficial in improving their focus.
Black noise: At the opposite end of the spectrum, there's black-noise. This type of sound is known as the colour of silence.
With technology taking the leap and intervening with our natural conditioning, we can only hope that sleep someday is not a thing of the past!