4

votes

What about Sleeping in Silence (not just darkness)?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 14, 2010 at 6:02 AM

Silence would seem to go right along with darkness for a good night's sleep. But I'm not a fan. I play brown noise through the radio on my nightstand. It's a deeper (more bass) version of white noise.

It seems to be very helpful, because I don't really hear small noises. Things that used to wake me up don't bother me -- like one of my dogs moving around or noises from outside. This leads to better sleep.

The noise also seems to make falling asleep take less time. I now have an almost Pavlovian response to the brown noise -- I start dozing off when I hear it.

Anyone else use background noise during sleep? Is anyone aware of any negative effects caused by playing this artificial noise throughout the night?

Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on October 02, 2011
at 03:20 AM

I second that. F.lux is great.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 05, 2011
at 02:53 PM

I think a steady noise like water blocks out a lot of other distractions. I agree with your daughter!

3a966a805e09d88b0f223f2985392e4f

(836)

on January 03, 2011
at 09:46 AM

I remember reading a quote from some anthropologists that at any time in a given night about 1/3 of the people in the villages of modern hunter-gatherers were awake. They didn't have one solid sleep through the night that we probably started at the advent of the industrial revolution and the creation of work days.

3a966a805e09d88b0f223f2985392e4f

(836)

on January 03, 2011
at 09:44 AM

Melissa, you can get a free program for your computer screen that eliminates the blue light. It's called "F.lux"--search for it.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 03, 2011
at 02:47 AM

Yea, to most of us Yanks I'm sure our fantasy version of what a koala sounds like is a cute little cartoony, "Arooo?" entirely divorced from reality. :)

Ae011d9f1c8654ea66854ca2a977c397

(1165)

on September 25, 2010
at 09:36 PM

Where did you read this?

Ae011d9f1c8654ea66854ca2a977c397

(1165)

on September 25, 2010
at 09:30 PM

Where did you read this? I've only read about the Hadza, !Kung and Ju/Wasi so far and it doesn't seem like they sleep this way.

5cc9908801b79ff820bbc1eb7ac01b8f

on September 25, 2010
at 04:01 PM

Good call on the brown noise. I use that at work with ear plugs to drown out coworker conversations.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on September 16, 2010
at 08:27 PM

This total darkness thing has been mystifying to me as well. The moon doesn't just provide "a little" light; go out to the country on a clear night with a full moon. You can see everything. It has to be brighter than a sliver of street light making it into your bedroom. And yet I know *lots* of people who need complete darkness. I wonder if they would be bothered by the moonlight when camping?

1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01

on September 15, 2010
at 08:23 AM

Oooooooh no you wouldn't! :P They make the most DISGUSTING noises! Try hitting up youtube for recordings - I'm sure someone's captured the crazed hissy grunt scream cacophony at some point!

B294438548c32ed878905baf6cd1b332

on September 15, 2010
at 05:00 AM

My six-year old daughter can hardly go to bed without her river noise. :) It's artificial, but she sure does seem to sleep better with it.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on September 14, 2010
at 11:34 PM

I just needed to say, that I would love to have koalas fighting outside my bedroom window.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on September 14, 2010
at 03:28 PM

Ambimorph: Firelight may look orange but it does still contain the blue part of the spectrum. Moonlight has the same spectrum as sunlight just not as bright.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on September 14, 2010
at 03:09 PM

Some of us are born night owls.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 14, 2010
at 02:40 PM

can't we just buy special lightbulbs then? *secretly wants to stay up late*

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on September 14, 2010
at 01:50 PM

It's actually the blue part of the spectrum that causes problems. Orange, fire light colour, doesn't interfere with circadian rhythms. This site is about depression, but has relevant info: http://www.psycheducation.org/depression/BlueLight.htm

4ff24fb9a7d48305681487dfb8040a5e

(383)

on September 14, 2010
at 01:17 PM

Spot on, i always thought the same and never really couldn't go with that theory of super dark rooms....just remove the artifical lights but let some moon light shine on ya :-)

B294438548c32ed878905baf6cd1b332

on September 14, 2010
at 12:40 PM

So, it depends a bit on where you camp. The experience is much different beside a river vs deep in the desert. Weather plays a role, too.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on September 14, 2010
at 12:27 PM

Moon and stars and campfires, I have wondered the same thing. It could just be the intensity of artificial light that is the problem.

Bdcb2101fd3f1853cfd645094d8ad086

on September 14, 2010
at 12:15 PM

It is a great question. Go camping for your answer.

286a4ff7c362241c5c4b020df4972212

(1288)

on September 14, 2010
at 06:55 AM

We have snoring noise in the background but its not a wanted noise and yes it bothers me

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

10 Answers

4
8287c6ddae0d78eae0a09fdd5999617c

(2581)

on September 14, 2010
at 12:15 PM

Why do we need total darkness? Haven't humans mastered fire for hundreds of thousands of years? Personally I have no problem sleeping during the daytime. Remember also that the moon provides a little light during night as well.

I'd say that most sleep problems are due to people staying up late. It's not like ancient humans had laptops, televisions, and other electronic stimuli.

4ff24fb9a7d48305681487dfb8040a5e

(383)

on September 14, 2010
at 01:17 PM

Spot on, i always thought the same and never really couldn't go with that theory of super dark rooms....just remove the artifical lights but let some moon light shine on ya :-)

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on September 14, 2010
at 12:27 PM

Moon and stars and campfires, I have wondered the same thing. It could just be the intensity of artificial light that is the problem.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on September 14, 2010
at 03:09 PM

Some of us are born night owls.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on September 16, 2010
at 08:27 PM

This total darkness thing has been mystifying to me as well. The moon doesn't just provide "a little" light; go out to the country on a clear night with a full moon. You can see everything. It has to be brighter than a sliver of street light making it into your bedroom. And yet I know *lots* of people who need complete darkness. I wonder if they would be bothered by the moonlight when camping?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 14, 2010
at 02:40 PM

can't we just buy special lightbulbs then? *secretly wants to stay up late*

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on September 14, 2010
at 01:50 PM

It's actually the blue part of the spectrum that causes problems. Orange, fire light colour, doesn't interfere with circadian rhythms. This site is about depression, but has relevant info: http://www.psycheducation.org/depression/BlueLight.htm

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on September 14, 2010
at 03:28 PM

Ambimorph: Firelight may look orange but it does still contain the blue part of the spectrum. Moonlight has the same spectrum as sunlight just not as bright.

3a966a805e09d88b0f223f2985392e4f

(836)

on January 03, 2011
at 09:44 AM

Melissa, you can get a free program for your computer screen that eliminates the blue light. It's called "F.lux"--search for it.

Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on October 02, 2011
at 03:20 AM

I second that. F.lux is great.

4
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on September 14, 2010
at 06:52 AM

Quote from a very interesting paper on human sleep (ecology of human sleep):

Fire also produces steady, irregular (in volume, frequency, and quality) noise that some ethnographers report as being subliminally monitored in sleep: continual small noises are reassuring, loud pops are arousing, and the absence of sound wakes the sleeper concerned with fire maintenance.

3
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on September 14, 2010
at 03:21 PM

Untill very recentlly people rarely slept separate from others, this is still true in many parts of the world. The extented famnily or even the entire tribe of maybe upto 50 people would have slept in close proximity, everyone from the babies to the elderly.

Historically the most normal night-time environment of a cave or hut would have been filled with the sounds of people breathing, snoring and having sex. There would be young babies being breast-fed and comforted, people waking up, squashing biting insects, tending to the fire and talking quietly.

If sleeping out in the open these would be added to by the sound of the wind, insects chirping, animals and birds calling and rodents russling in the grass.

In the wild a restfull nights sleep would be aided most by the feeling of security of knowing you're surounded by relatives with less risk of being draged off and eaten by lions coming out of the darkness.

I'd say some noise is quite normal.

Ae011d9f1c8654ea66854ca2a977c397

(1165)

on September 25, 2010
at 09:30 PM

Where did you read this? I've only read about the Hadza, !Kung and Ju/Wasi so far and it doesn't seem like they sleep this way.

Ae011d9f1c8654ea66854ca2a977c397

(1165)

on September 25, 2010
at 09:36 PM

Where did you read this?

3a966a805e09d88b0f223f2985392e4f

(836)

on January 03, 2011
at 09:46 AM

I remember reading a quote from some anthropologists that at any time in a given night about 1/3 of the people in the villages of modern hunter-gatherers were awake. They didn't have one solid sleep through the night that we probably started at the advent of the industrial revolution and the creation of work days.

3
1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01

on September 14, 2010
at 06:57 AM

I've never had a problem with noise preventing me from sleeping. I grew up on a farm, and there would regularly be koalas fighting outside my bedroom window, rifles firing at foxes in the distance, my Dad watching TV late into the night (between lamb feedings), and other bumps in the night. When I moved into the city, my computer would hum so much that others couldn't bare to sleep near it. I never noticed.

Needing darkness makes sense, especially on a hormonal level. But nighttime isn't quiet, so it doesn't make sense to need perfect silence. However, our survival instincts probably mean that our subconscious is attuned to particular 'danger' noises that may lighten or disrupt our sleep. So if you live in a neighbourhood where people scream at all hours, dogs barks, etc, then perhaps a brown noise machine or other sound blocker is a sensible choice.

1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01

on September 15, 2010
at 08:23 AM

Oooooooh no you wouldn't! :P They make the most DISGUSTING noises! Try hitting up youtube for recordings - I'm sure someone's captured the crazed hissy grunt scream cacophony at some point!

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on September 14, 2010
at 11:34 PM

I just needed to say, that I would love to have koalas fighting outside my bedroom window.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 03, 2011
at 02:47 AM

Yea, to most of us Yanks I'm sure our fantasy version of what a koala sounds like is a cute little cartoony, "Arooo?" entirely divorced from reality. :)

2
Bdcb2101fd3f1853cfd645094d8ad086

on September 14, 2010
at 12:14 PM

Try sleeping outdoors, near a river. You think there's anything such as silence in a typical, evolutionary human environment? The night is loud with cascading, burbling sounds... of water, insects, frogs, birds, etc. White noise is evolutionarily appropriate for sleep. In fact, for millions of years, every night sleeping creature most likely slept in the midst of nocturnal sounds.

1
04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67

on January 02, 2011
at 10:56 PM

My very best sleep is when I am camping. I think it could be due to many factors like the sounds of water from rain, rivers, and the ocean. More active during camping also no electronic stimuli helps to fall asleep. One time I was scared of bears while camping with my son in a tent, so I DID NOT get any sleep that night. I think the security factors in as well as mentioned.

At home every little noise bother's me and I need to use ear plugs to help me stay asleep. I can do this now that my kids are older, but I did not use them when they were young.

1
5cc9908801b79ff820bbc1eb7ac01b8f

on September 25, 2010
at 04:09 PM

I use earplugs every night without fail. Every now and then I try going to sleep without them, but my sleep is not as restful and it seems to take longer to hit deep sleep.

1
Ddb0e3a41f15d69d30677339ccf9c7b6

(513)

on September 15, 2010
at 08:06 PM

I usually use my oscilating fan. Turn it on medium or high, puts me right to sleep. So does the sound of rain or the rumble of an engine.

I was stationed on a river tender a while back and when we were underway, the 2 caterpillar engines would put me right to sleep, but keep everyone else up. Haha.

There are downloads of white noise sound files that are for specific purposes. Cat naps, deep sleeps, etc.; basically subliminal messages to our brain. Pretty interesting, but I've only used them a time or two.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 14, 2010
at 03:48 PM

I think most people can adjust to various levels of noise during sleep. My favourite noise is water- either a river or stream or ocean, and even a rainstorm will do.

In Mexico we adjust to fireworks at odd hours of the night, roosters crowing at inappropriate times, church bells before the crack of dawn, and loud music just as a few examples.

Previously when I lived near an airport I became adjusted to hearing planes at all hours and the noise quit affecting my sleep.

One of our friends keeps the radio on all night to sleep well, whereas his wife used to use a clock radio as an alarm and she now has trouble getting restful sleep, so I guess some people adjust more easily than others.

B294438548c32ed878905baf6cd1b332

on September 15, 2010
at 05:00 AM

My six-year old daughter can hardly go to bed without her river noise. :) It's artificial, but she sure does seem to sleep better with it.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 05, 2011
at 02:53 PM

I think a steady noise like water blocks out a lot of other distractions. I agree with your daughter!

1
5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on September 14, 2010
at 06:18 AM

Nature isn't all that quiet so I'm not sure that's equivalent to darkness. I think you're on the right path with your "brown noise", though. White noise masks lots of low-volume sounds neurologically (if I recall my undergrad psychology classes correctly) so it would help with small disturbances but not the loud ones - which you might want to hear for your own safety!

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!