History of the Therapeutic Use of White Noise

Published: 16th February 2010
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White noise is broad sound frequency made up of many other sound frequencies. It is believed to be a very flat based spectrum and for this reason, is able to absorb other sounds into it. The term white noise is derived from its similarity to white light. The color white in terms of light is created by the three main light spectrums reflecting in equal strength, thus appearing to be white. Similarly, the presence of a broad frequency of sound creates an absence of noise which is termed white noise.



The Origins of White Noise

White noise by its nature has always been in existence. An example is when you hear two people talking simultaneously, your brain will pick up on one voice and filter out the other. If 20 more people are added to the conversation, you cannot easily pick out words; instead, the sound you then hear becomes more like a buzz or hum. If another person is added to conversation, you will not even be aware of it. The reason is that the 22 voices you are already hearing are effectively creating a level of white noise. When the 23rd voice is added, it is masked by all the other voices and you cannot pick it up.



Applications of White Noise

White noise was primarily used in the production of music in the 1970s and 1980s. It was used to filter out noises that interfered with the sound quality in recording studios. It was used more extensively in the production of electronic music in the 1980s and 1990s, especially relating to high frequency instruments such as cymbals.



Around this time, scientists investigated the therapeutic benefits of white noise. With increasing commercialization, larger cities and busy transport systems, natural sleeping patterns and bio-rhythms were often disrupted. The thinking was that if white noise can be used to filter out sounds, surely it has therapeutic benefits as well. The first sound-masking machine using white noise was believed to be created by an inventor in the 1970s that had trouble sleeping. He found it so effective that he went on to commercialize the invention. Many white noise sound machines are still based on the same principles.



Therapeutic Uses of White Noise

Initially, white noise was used as a treatment to help insomnia caused by stress and high noise levels in cities. White noise machines helped people struggling with insomnia to return to normal sleeping patterns. The sound machine is played while preparing for bed and falling asleep. The white noise helps to mask noises that would normally keep people awake and in this way helps to effectively treat insomnia.



Even people that don't necessarily suffer from insomnia can benefit from using white noise therapy. People that have an undisturbed night's sleep wake up feeling more refreshed and tend to be more productive during the time that they are awake. White noise therapy is particularly useful for helping to get small children and infants into regular bed times. Some people also believe that white noise therapy can help reduce the effects of colic in newborn babies.



More recently white noise has proven to be very effective in treating Tinnitus, otherwise known as ringing in the ears. Tinnitus is cause by damage to the cochlear and ear drum, and the result is that patients suffering from this hear a continuous buzz or noise frequency in their ears. This buzzing often impedes a person's hearing ability and can be very unpleasant to live with. Certain types of white noise can help mask the effects of Tinnitus, creating relief for people with this disorder.



Some therapists have recently also looked to white noise as a treatment for ADHD or Attention Deficit Disorder. People suffering from this syndrome have trouble focusing on a particular task or function for any length of time. They get easily distracted by external sights and sounds. White noise therapy helps in that it is able to mask external sounds, therefore creating an environment where there are fewer distractions. With fewer distractions, people suffering from ADHD are therefore able to focus more easily on the task at hand.



Students studying for exams and office workers in an open office setting have also benefited from using white noise therapy. In the same way as it helps ADHD patients, it filters out distracting noises and helps students and workers to be more productive.Even doctors recommend white noise sound machines such as the Marpac SleepMate 980A and SAD lights for patients who are sufferers of tinnitus or have difficulty sleeping. These patients can be shift workers who have to sleep during the day, new parents contending with a crying baby, or anyone who is easily distracted by outside noise or has difficulty sleeping for any reason. Visit Sound Machines Direct.com today.

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