Why TikTokers Calls Green Noise A “Game Changer” For Sleep

Certified sleep science coach Alex Savy explains this internet obsession.

Originally Published: 
Many people are turning to "green noise" to get a better night's sleep.
Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for our health and well-being, but let’s face it — catching some serious Zzzs can be seriously hard at times. From wondering what to make for your kid’s lunch this week to dealing with a difficult boss, it’s no wonder that between 10 and 30 percent of American adults suffer from insomnia. If counting sheep doesn’t help you fall asleep, you might consider listening to a sound machine to help you slip into some sweet sound slumber. And while you’re likely familiar with white noise, “green noise” may be a new concept — unless, that is, you heard about it on TikTok, where users have been gushing it’s a “game changer.” But what, exactly, is it?

“Green noise is a variation of white noise and is favored by many for its soft, gentle sound,” Alex Savy, a certified sleep science coach and the founder of SleepingOcean.com, explains to Scary Mommy. “It may remind listeners of a soothing waterfall, soft waves, or even a light wind blowing across a grass field and tickling the tops. It’s a perfect solution for those who wish to drown out external distractions and disturbances.”

In other words, it sounds a lot like the more lulling side of nature (making “green” easy to remember). If white noise doesn’t work for you, says Savy, green noise can be a great alternative since it can create a gentle background that won’t be likely to start feeling overwhelming even after quite some time and thanks to its not-so-high frequency.

Here’s what else you need to know about green noise, and how it can help you get better sleep.

How is green noise derived from white nose?

According to Savy, white noise is the general term that describes all the frequencies of the audible sound spectrum, falling anywhere between 20 and 20,000 Hz. Examples include a whirring fan, radio or television static, a running vacuum, or even a humming air conditioner. “In other words, white noise is a more general, comprehensive term,” Savy says.

Green noise, however, is a more specific type of white noise that has a frequency of approximately 500 Hz and has a more soothing sound that’s more equivalent to nature sounds, like ocean waves or trickling waterfalls.

How does green noise improve sleep quality, specifically?

“To put it simply, green noise creates favorable conditions for restful sleep,” Savy explains. “It can block external distractions, soothe listeners (as it’s often compared to nature sounds), and can even give people with racing thoughts something to focus on instead of their worries. This typically allows people to fall asleep faster and have a more restful slumber since they feel more relaxed.”

Green noise, says Savy, can be a distraction from anxious thoughts. “Many people note that listening to green noise before bed often feels like the sound fills their heads, pushing the racing thoughts out,” he says. “Background noise can also have a soothing effect. Because the whooshing sounds of the green noise may remind people of nature, such a soundscape can relax them and help them fall asleep more easily.”

Who is it best suited for?

Savy says green noise would work for anyone who enjoys an ambient atmosphere when falling asleep. Think: someone who doesn’t mind listening to waterfalls before bed and doesn’t always have to pee.

It can also help overthinkers and anxious people whose brains seem to go into overdrive at night, as well as those who live in a noisy city (or with annoying neighbors). Although Savy does say green noise — or any other white noise type, for that matter — would not work for people who require absolute quiet to fall asleep.

How do you bring green noise into the bedroom?

“The easiest (and cheapest) option is using one’s phone/tablet and playing a YouTube video or a Spotify green noise podcast,” Savy recommends. “However, one can buy a white noise machine that offers a green noise frequency. That being said, most manufacturers don’t mention the frequency on their product pages. Thus, shoppers might have to contact them or the store to find out whether the sound machine offers a 500 Hz frequency.”

According to Savy, most people prefer turning the green noise on when they are already in bed, ready for sleep: “It’s best to set a timer so that the device doesn’t play all night long. I also recommend starting with a low volume so that the green noise doesn't feel too overpowering or annoying.”

Are there any potential issues or risks of having green noise?

“Experts suggest that playing green noise (or any other type of white noise) at a high volume for long periods of time can increase the person’s risk of developing hearing problems (due to accumulated noise),” Savy cautions. “However, people don’t typically listen to green noise at such high volumes, so the chances of damage are very low.”

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