I Was Wrong About White Noise Machines and What I Use Now Instead

by GfG on January 20, 2016 · 5 comments

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Awhile back, I shared that we need to be willing to admit we were wrong.  Not just apologies for moments, but also for speaking out about an issue or something and then changing our mind. If we spoke up about it, then we need to speak up when we change our minds too.  Admit we were wrong.  As I mentioned in that post, I’m going to share some ways that I need to admit I was wrong.  Today is one of those posts.

I Was Wrong About White Noise Machines WEB

I have had a white noise machine in my room for…. at least five kiddos.  Probably six. Started with a fan in the room with HB and Noah because we lived in an old mobile home where you could hear and feel every noise.  Then after awhile, we bought a sound machine so that we didn’t freeze our kiddos out in the winter.

At one point, I had three white noise machines I had bought at garage sales so I would always have one handy.

And I used one in my room because I had become accustomed to them after six kiddos.

When a friend said that white noise machines were bad, I blew her off.  And when other friends asked about using them, I shared my experience.

Then one day, on Facebook, a friend asked and that same other friend shared that white noise can cause auditory processing problems.  I still refused to heed the advice and shared that I loved our white noise machines.

But the comment about auditory processing stuck with me.

After we received an in utero diagnosis of Down syndrome for our daughter, the auditory processing issue had an heightened sense of importance.  I did an internet search and I read this blog post by Mommypotamus titled Why I Ditched My White Noise Machine.

(I really really recommend you read it if you are using a white noise machine. She is thorough and I don’t need to retype all of her good information.)

And then it all made sense.  And I realized I had been wrong.

One quote from her article, which is a quote from the Scientific American:

According to this Scientific American article:

“Several studies have indicated that stress resulting from ongoing white noise can induce the release of cortisol, a hormone that helps to restore homeostasis in the body after a bad experience. Excess cortisol impairs function in the prefrontal cortex—an emotional learning center that helps to regulate ‘executive’ functions such as planning, reasoning and impulse control. Some recent evidence indicates that the prefrontal cortex also stores short-term memories. Changes to this region, therefore, may disrupt a person’s capacity to think clearly and to retain information.

 

NO white noise machine

While there was no way I could buy the Sleep Genius system in that post, I did get the Sleep Genius app.  It was hard for me to adjust to, but I did.  Then after the NICU gig and my sleep pattern being interrupted, I switched to a different app that has pink noise as an option.

And it works beautifully.  And it doesn’t interact with my brain in the way white noise does.  And it’s just as easy.

The Sleep Genius offers a Baby Sleep Genius, but I haven’t tried it. I will soon.

Sleep Noise Options 2 WEB

I’m really really grateful the Lord softened my heart towards hearing this new information before Jubilee was born.  Since people with Down syndrome can struggle with processing, language delays, and cognitive function, I am glad I didn’t put a stumbling block in front of her.  She usually sleeps with no aides, but sometimes, if the house is exceptionally noisy, I play the pink noise for her.

I was wrong.  White noise actually can cause issues for our brains.  Choosing something else is a better option.

Like Mommypotamus, I won’t say that white noise is always bad.  If you can’t sleep somewhere and it’s affecting you, a good night’s sleep is better than staying up all night.  And since there are other options that don’t do what the white noise does to the brain, I choose that.

Pink noise doesn’t create a wall of noise and still helps sleep.  The Sleep Genius specifically designed sound combinations are even better.

ETA:
Other readings on this topic:

White Noise Delays Auditory Organization in the Brain

Early Continuous White Noise Exposure Alters Auditory Spatial Sensitivity and Expression of GAD65 and GABAA Receptor Subunits in Rat Auditory Cortex

Have you heard the information about white noise?

{In the interest of full disclosure regarding the issue of admitting when we are wrong: I’ve had this post almost ready for quite awhile and just hadn’t finished it. The bad part is that I knew I couldn’t post it until I apologized to my friend who first shared about all of this, which I still hadn’t done. Sigh.  Pride is so ugly.  I finally contacted her as I completed this post just now.}

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole January 20, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Hi, Mindy! I applaud you for admitting when you’re wrong. I HATE doing that. :-)
What is pink noise? I have never heard of that term before.

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GfG January 20, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Well, it’s not fun. But I trust God will use it for my good and maybe others’.

Here is an explanation of pink noise. :)
http://www.livescience.com/38464-what-is-pink-noise.html

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annetteq January 20, 2016 at 5:34 pm

As a mom with two APD kiddos I had never heard this. Thanks for the new info. We usually use small fans. Guess I’ll be reinventing bedtime. Thanks for educating me.

Reply

GfG January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

I’m doing further research, but the initial findings point to using something else. HUGS!

Reply

Brooke January 20, 2016 at 8:24 pm

As a speech language pathologist I read both of the articles with a ‘trained ‘ eye. I disagree with the conclusions that the blogger on mommypotamus drew and believe that that is not the intention of the researchers. The rats that were exposed to white noise we’re done so continuously 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I read some additional research studies and information in which researchers specifically said that using fans and white noise machines for sleep was fine, but constant exposure to noise such as that of traffic in a large city without adequate speech and language stimulation could be a problem. I will spend a little more time tomorrow digging through speech and audiology journals, but as of right now, there is no need to discontinue white noise machines. It is really important to make sure they’re not turned up too loud as exposure to any noise that is too loud can result in hearing loss. It is important to note that the initial articles on this came out in 2003, and it appears that nothing further has come of the research

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