Study says 'pink noise' might boost memory, improve sleep

Posted at 9:29 AM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 09:29:56-04

You may have heard that listening to “white noise” can help you sleep.  A new study from Northwestern University suggests “pink noise” may be even more beneficial, improving sleep while also boosting memory.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Deep sleep, and in turn, memory, decrease substantially in middle age. The study suggests “pink noise” can improve both.

“Pink noise” contains all of the sound frequencies in the range of a human’s hearing, from low pitches to high tones.  It’s a variation of “white noise.” 

The tones are all joined together at the same time and density.  In this study, a person’s specific brain waves for their deep sleep were studied so the sound would work for that individual.

Older adults from the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University were used in the study.  It was a small study, 13 people participated, all ages 60 and older.  Each slept for a night with acoustic stimulation and a different night without it. 

They took a memory test of words at night, then one again in the morning.  There were small improvements on the morning tests after all sleep, but the average improvement was three times larger with pink-noise stimulation.  Their deep sleep was improved with the sound as well. 

The effects of multiple nights in a row while listening to “pink noise” haven’t yet been studied.

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