A new study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience finds that a sound called “pink noise” can help older adults get a deeper sleep.

Pink noise is a mix of high and low frequencies that sounds more balanced and natural than the better known “white noise”.

Previous studies had found that playing pink noise during sleep improved the memory of young adults. As older people tend to get less sleep and are at greater risk of declining memory, the researchers wanted to see if pink noise would also help older people.

Dr Phyllis Zee, neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and senior author of the paper, observed 13 adults ages 60 and older as they spent two nights in a sleep lab. On one night some participants were played burst of pink noise during deep sleep but the other night, no noise was played.

“The noise is fairly pleasant; it kind of resembles a rush of water,” says Dr Zee. “It’s just noticeable enough that the brain realises it’s there, but not enough to disturb sleep.”

In the morning, people who had listened to the noise performed three times better on memory test than the night they heard no noise.

The results seem promising but Dr Zee says more research is needed to confirm the findings for long-term use.

List to the sound of pink noise above. Do you think it will help you sleep? 

Video credit: Medcalm

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