Is White Noise Bad For You
“There are lots of ways in which you can drown out unwanted sounds with the help of technology. One way is through white noise generators, or ‘noise machines’. These devices produce steady streams of low-pitched frequencies designed to mask unpleasant noises and enable people to relax.
White noise machines have been used by humans since time immemorial to block out harmful sounds such as those produced by thunderstorms, loud music and crying babies. They’re also popular among those who suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears), as well as those suffering from anxiety disorders like agoraphobia, claustrophobia and panic attacks.
It seems that some people use them as sleep aids too, but do these gadgets really work? And how much white noise should we be exposing ourselves to?
What Is White Noise?
Put simply, white noise is a combination of different tones or waves of sound that create an overall tone with no discernible pattern. The result is a sound that is neither harsh nor irritating, but rather one that blends into your surroundings. However, while it may seem that this type of noise could be beneficial, there are actually many studies showing that exposure to white noise causes headaches, nausea, fatigue and other negative effects.
The reason why this happens is because white noise is not composed of individual tones; instead, it combines several wave forms together to come up with its distinctive sound. When these waves combine, the brain perceives them as a single source. In fact, each wave forms within the same frequency range, meaning that when the ear hears them together, it doesn’t know where the sound is coming from. This makes it difficult for the body to differentiate between the various waves and respond accordingly. It might seem strange, then, that white noise would make us feel bad, but research shows that it does.
How Much Exposure To White Noise Is Safe?
While there isn’t any specific amount of white noise that will kill someone, it is possible to say that excessive amounts of white noise can potentially lead to hearing loss over long periods of time. There is evidence suggesting that even moderate amounts of white noise can damage human ears after prolonged use. If you want to protect yourself against hearing problems, experts suggest limiting your daily exposure to just 45 minutes of white noise per day. This equates to about 85dB on average. Anything higher than this is considered dangerous, causing permanent hearing damage.
In addition to this, researchers have found that listening to white noise at volumes higher than 65 dBA can cause further damage to children’s ears. Babies under six months old shouldn’t listen to white noise at greater than 40dBA, whereas older babies who are still developing their auditory systems need to limit themselves to a maximum volume of 65 dBA.
As mentioned earlier, most users of white noise machines claim that they use them for sleeping purposes only. While this may be true, most of these users expose themselves to white noise at volumes far higher than what is recommended by scientists. People who regularly use white noise generators often claim that doing so helps them fall asleep faster, but this may not always be the case. Some users have reported experiencing headaches, dizziness, nausea and other discomforts after using white noise generators. According to one study, the majority of users admitted to feeling worse after using them, and about half said that they experienced side effects such as difficulty falling asleep, dry mouth and eye irritation.
If you decide to go ahead with purchasing a white noise generator, keep reading to find out how to get started.
Types of White Noise Generators
Most people think of a white noise machine as something similar to what you’d see in a doctor’s office, with a speaker inside emitting soothing, constant tones. But there are actually dozens of types of white noise generators available today, including ones that emit pulsating lights, wind chimes, rainstorm sound effects and natural sounds such as ocean waves, forest birds and rainfall. Many of these machines offer additional features such as adjustable intensity, pitch control and multi-sensory stimulation options. Since every person reacts differently to different stimuli, manufacturers design their products to meet consumers’ needs. Not surprisingly, these machines typically cost more than $100.
Another option is to buy a pair of headphones that play white noise. Because these units don’t have speakers, they tend to be cheaper — usually costing less than $50. Still, the quality of the white noise varies greatly depending upon the brand name. Although the audio output is lower than a traditional white noise generator, it’s easier to adjust the volume without waking anyone up. Also, unlike white noise machines, white noise played via headphones won’t disturb others nearby unless their volume goes beyond yours.
One last alternative is to purchase a portable CD player loaded with white noise tracks. Most portable players have headphone jacks, making them easy to connect to a set of headphones. Or, if you prefer, you can plug the device directly into your car stereo. Just make sure that you turn off both the radio and the vehicle ignition before putting the unit in “”sleep mode.”” Otherwise, you’ll risk starting your engine unintentionally.
Now that you’ve read our article, maybe you’re ready to take action. If so, check out the links on the next page for more information on white noise.
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