A recent report from Insider looks at what scientists have learned from studying white noise and sleep.
The effects of white noise on sleep have been researched for quite some time. In 2005, a study published in Sleep Medicine compared the sleep of four subjects with no noise, with the recorded background noise of a hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and with ICU and white noise. The researchers found that white noise did help patients sleep better because it reduced “the difference between background noise and peak noise.” In addition, they also found that the sleep quality achieved with ICU noise and white noise was comparable to patients’ sleep quality with no noise.
In another small study, published in 2016 in The Journal of Caring Sciences, white noise was found to improve the sleep duration of patients in coronary care units from an average of fewer than five hours of sleep to greater than seven. In this study, 60 patients were studied over the course of a three-night stay. The white noise was used to mask the hospital sounds that were causing disruptions to the patient’s sleep.