Background Noise


I’m staying at a hotel in Ottawa, during March Break. Hundreds, maybe thousands of kids are on the road with their parents taking advantage of the time off to do family things. I can hear them running up and down the halls, laughing and generally having a great time. I think it’s great, I have fond memories of doing the exact same thing on family trips.

At some point, the kids must have been called back to their rooms because it got really quiet.

Too quiet…

I’m one of those people that like a little bit of background noise when trying to sleep. Usually the best you can do while travelling is to turn on the AC fan but the one in this room is unusually quiet. Running water is not very eco-friendly, playing music is too distracting and the kids have gone to bed.

I don’t usually pay too much attention to the clock radios in hotel rooms as I prefer to count on my iPhone to wake me up. However, upon closer inspection, I noticed a series of buttons on top of the radio. One was called Nature Sounds. Pushing it gave me some surf, wind and subtle bird sounds… perfect.

Found this article on the National Sleep Foundation’s site:

White noise works by reducing the difference between background sounds and a “peak” sound, like a door slamming, giving you a better chance to sleep through it undisturbed. If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, creating a constant ambient sound could help mask activity from inside and outside the house.

In your bedroom, white noise can be created by a sound conditioner, a fan or an air purifier, anything that is a consistent and soothing backdrop throughout the night. You might want to experiment with the volume and type to find the white noise that works best for you, or if you have a sleeping partner, the sound that works for both of you.

So now I know why it works for me and I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep with a little background noise. Wish I would have found the button on Sunday.


1 Comment

  1. Interesting information from the sleep foundation. I’ve always… enjoyed(?) background/white noise, but never knew why, or cared enough I supposed, to dig into why.

    I have found that, there is a balance however. At work, we have whitenoise sound curtain “things” (not sure the actual name for the solution), but from 30 feet up, they’re turned up pretty loud to be fully effective, so it feels like too much noise. I usually end up putting on my headphones to drown some of it out!

    I do use sites like, and (among other solutions) when I want a more “active” passive sound.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s