I was eight when the Great Storm of October 1987 blew in from the channel, battering our three storey town house near the Solent. It was gone midnight when the lashing of rain and wind rattling the window panes roused me, the noise outside like an unleveled washing machine on spin cycle.
At that time, me and my older sister shared a bedroom in the basement. My parents at the top of the house seemed a long way to tread shivering in my nightdress, instead choosing as I often did, to pull my torch from beside my bed and read a few pages of my book. The trail of words in black ink against white page soon blurred and I drifted into contented sleep, the sound of the storm like a lullaby.
A study published March 8th 2017 suggests the storm that woke me, may have also helped me drift back into slumber. So here is a little bit of simplified science to explain. Colour is used by scientists to categorize sound. White noise is a consistent static sound like the whir of a fan or hum of an air conditioning unit. They can aid sleep by drowning out the sounds that wake us, or prevent us from dropping off in the first place – a barking dog, the slam of a door, a partner snoring. Natural sounds like babbling brooks, crashing ocean waves, falling rain, whispering winds or brutal gales are known as pink noise – sounds with a consistent frequency. These sounds slow and regulate brain waves and are associated with a deep phase of sleep, which leave us feeling fresh and well rested when we wake.