Mons listening to white noise: Image Supplied.
One of my delightful colleagues, Mons, has been chatting about a thing called “white noise” for quite some time now. She says it helps her concentrate. She says it’s relaxing. She says everyone needs to try it. So I did.
And, at first, I didn’t really get it. I found it a little weird. But after a little mucking around with the frequencies, I found a one called brown noise. And it was perfect. I too have fallen in love with listening to noise.
“What is this all this noise?”, I hear you ask. It’s static sound, kind of like the noise your TV makes when there’s no signal. It’s part of a family of noises, of which there are four, and they can be altered depending on your needs. Why would anyone actually want to listen to that? Hear me out.
I spoke with Stéphane Pigeon, a professional sound designer and signal processing Ph.D. engineer, who designed a website, My Noise, a noise generator that takes your personal hearing thresholds into account.
“Basically, they all cover the whole frequency range, but with di?erent “?avours”. Brown is the more bassy, and white the more hissy. Pink is a good compromise between these two, and Grey is something that sounds ?at to the human hear, by taking the characteristics of the human hearing into account,” Pigeon explained.
When you're in an environment that differs to what you like working in, noise can play a significant part in helping you concentrate.
"Some people cannot concentrate in a noisy environment, and the opposite does exist too. In both situations, noise can help," Pigeon explains.
The noise masks other sounds in your environment, and then, gradually, you just don't hear the noise at all.
"Just like when it rains outside, you will notice when the rain starts, but then you won’t pay attention anymore, and you probably won't even notice when the rain stops," Pigeon says.
"So, listening to a static noise allows the listener to enjoy a very special silence after a while, once your brain decided to wipe it from being a stimulus, because it always sounds the same," Pigeon says. (Post continues after audio.)
But listening to noise isn't only beneficial for the workplace, it can also help with sleep.
Since I've been little, I've always found it so much easier to go to sleep with the fan on in the background. I have never really understood why, until now. Noise can help mask other sounds, and help light sleepers to drift off more easily. I put on the noise generator, and for the first time, in a really long time, I haven't woken up during the night. I prefer brown noise, but you can tune the noises to whatever suits you and whatever your prefer.