'Pink noise' boosts deep sleep, memory for older adults

Posted at 1:33 PM, May 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-01 17:02:19-04

A new study finds “Pink noise” can improve older adults sleep and memory.

Deep sleep is very important for both your body and your brain. This study may have a found a way to help older adults get deeper sleep which can help improve memory.  

A study out of Northwestern University in Illinois had 13 older adults between the ages of 60 and 84 take part in 2 overnight sleep studies.   

Every morning and night, everyone took part in memory recall tests. On the night that pink noise was played, the participants performed three times better on memory tests when compared to the other nights that had no noise.

Pink noise contains all frequencies that humans can hear, but each octave has equal energy and it sounds similar to muted static or rushing water.  

The researchers in this study analyzed participant’s brain waves and timed the pink noise to match them.

Further studies are needed to confirm these findings but you can try adding background sounds to your nightly routine.  

Here are my prescriptions:

  • Try experimenting with soothing music or nature sounds like falling rain or wind as these may help to improve your sleep.
  • You can download apps to your cell phone or electronic devices that play pink noise. You can also try adding fans or noisemakers that produce steady, uninterrupted sounds.
  • Please avoid wearing headphones to bed as they can disrupt your sleep, especially if you move around while you sleep.
  • If you’re not getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep for adults, talk to your doctor as you could have an underlying sleep disorder like restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea.

There are different types of sleep disorders, but symptoms can include excessive sleepiness during the day, difficulty falling asleep at night, more movement than normal while you’re sleeping and irregular breathing.  

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you can increase your risk of many health problems and this includes later-life memory loss.