Sleep quality tends to decline with age, making it very difficult for older adults to fall asleep and stay asleep. However, Pink noise may be just the thing to help these individuals get the sleep they need. Pink noises include sounds like falling rain, a flowing river, crashing waves, or other sounds from nature that cover a wide range of frequencies. It better emphasize lower frequencies, however.
Researchers played pink noise audio through a headband to older adults while they slept, and the study showed that pink nose during deep sleep increased slow waves in the brain for some participants. Continue reading for more information regarding deep sleep for older adults and pink noise.
Why slow-wave sleep is important for older adults
Slow-wave brain activity is important because it helps us form memories. There are three stages of sleep - light sleep, deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM). Light sleep stimulates creativity and is the stage where you can still hear, but are deeply relaxed. Deep sleep is the stage called slow wave sleep where your body and brain are doing all of the important metabolic processes like repair, learning, and consolidating memories. It's very difficult to wake someone up who is in deep sleep.
REM sleep is a very light stage of sleep where you are paralyzed, but are dreaming. Your body doesn't move to keep you safe and from acting out your dreams. This stage is important for individuals to feel deeply rested.
Older adults experience less number of sleep cycles and less time in slow-wave sleep. This can lead to a decrease in sleep quality so by improving activity in this stage, there will be subsequent improvement in older adults' brain function.
How Sound Can Help
Normally, individuals are instructed to sleep is completely dark, cool and quiet environments. While this is extremely important, sleeping in the quiet has some caveats if the noises are conducive for sleep.
A study in 2017 showed that playing sounds at certain frequencies increased slow-wave brain activity and improved sleep-dependent memory in older adults. However, this research still needs more work as there are varied results. Some adults improved while others did not.
Pink noise effects also had varied impacts on different individuals. Not only are scientists trying to discover the impact that pink noise has on sleep, they are also trying to see what at-home technology they can create so that way individuals can get the sleep they need in the comfort of their own home.
More research is still necessary, but if you are an older adult who is having trouble getting to sleep, then pink noise may be something you should try. You can download noises on your phone that can play throughout the night, or use an app that can play those noises.
If you are having trouble getting to sleep, then please take the free online sleep test to talk with one of our sleep health professionals today.