Why Constant Noise is the Perfect Sleep Solution

By Thomas Herold in Product Reviews on August 20th, 2006 / 3 Comments

Have you ever laid awake at night wondering, “What do I have to do to get a peaceful night’s sleep?” as your neighbor’s dog barks all night and traffic roars by?

Jim Buckwalter solved this problem…but before I am going to tell you how he did it let’s talk about sleep itself.

What Affects Our Sleep?
The most common environmental elements affecting sleep are noise, sleep surface, temperature or climate, and altitude. Your age and gender also play a part in determining the level of sleep disturbance caused by these factors.

One study found that women are more easily awakened than men by sonic booms and aircraft noise, while other research indicates that men may be more noise sensitive. Children are generally insensitive to extreme noise levels. However, this high threshold declines with age.

What Keeps Us Awake
We have all experienced that dripping faucet, the barking dog or that blaring stereo next door that has kept us awake. Indeed, experts say the intensity, abruptness, regularity, intrusiveness, familiarity and regularity of noises all affect sleep.

Noises at levels as low as 40 decibels or as high as 70 decibels generally keep us awake. Interestingly, however, the absence of a familiar noise can also disrupt sleep. City dwellers may have trouble falling asleep without the familiar sounds of traffic. Or a traveler may find it difficult to sleep without the familiar tick, tick, tick of the alarm clock at home.
Some noises, although annoying at first, can gradually be ignored, allowing sleep to follow. Studies show people can get used to noises such as city traffic in about one week. However, important noises, like a parent’s baby crying, a smoke alarm or even one’s own name being called, are not easily assimilated and generally snap us awake.

Sleep Affected By Temperature/Climate
The point at which sleep is disturbed due to temperature or climate conditions varies from person to person. Generally, temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit and below 54 degrees will awaken people.

Sleep Affected By Altitudes
The higher the altitude, the greater the sleep disruption. Generally, sleep disturbance becomes greater at altitudes of 13,200 feet or more. The disturbance is thought to be caused by diminished oxygen levels and accompanying changes in respiration. Most people adjust to new altitudes in approximately two to three weeks.

Falling Asleep with White Noise
To understand the promise of white noise, one must first understand its mechanics. In its purest form, it is not really noise at all. White noise, which is also known as white sound, is a combination of sound frequencies in equal amounts. Just like a white beam of light is made up of all the colors in
the color spectrum, white noise is made up of all the sound frequencies.

Because it incorporates all sound frequencies from high sounds to very low sounds, it has a very beneficial noise canceling or “masking” effect.

But what does the white noise sound like? Well, the best description would be to say it sounds like a slow soothing “whoosh.” Many say it is the sound of the rain, or the waves gently caressing the shore, or the wind blowing through the trees. It is a very peaceful sound that is instinctively soothing and calming to the ears and minds of humans of all ages. White noise is actually a sound given to us by Mother Nature, in the same way as she has provided us with water and air.

The Sleep Solution
Back to our story…Jim Buckwalter solved this problem by inventing the first electro-mechanical sound conditioner to block out these unwanted, distracting noises. At the request of his friends and family members he made several proto-type units for their use. He spent the next several years improving on the electro-mechanical sound conditioners and finally introduced the first electronic sound conditioner, the “Sleepmate”.

Marpac SleepMate Sound ConditionerThe “Sleepmate” mechanically makes a “real” sound as opposed to a reproduced or simulated sound like other white noise machines. It does not loop. By “looping”, I mean the playing of a recorded or simulated segment of sound over and over. Most other white noise machines do loop but some hide it better than others.

Getting a machine that doesn’t loop is really important. If you can detect a repetitive quality in the sound (such as a chirp that repeats over and over every 5 seconds), then that can be as annoying as the sound you are trying to mask.

My wife and I are using the “Sleepmate” for six month now, as we have a rooster in our neighbour that was waking us up every morning at about 4:30 AM! Well, we now sleep until the sun wakes us up.

You can order the “Sleepmate” at amazon: Marpac Sleepmate

More information on sleep at: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/

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3 Responses to “Why Constant Noise is the Perfect Sleep Solution”

  1. Effects of White Noise on Sleep and Relaxation « Home. Wellness. System Says:

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  2. BialseNaB Says:

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  3. sheila Ber Says:

    This is a great, very informative article on noise. Thank you.

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