Why I'm a Fan of the White Noise App

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As work-at-home moms (and dads) know, vacation can be a mixed blessing. While it’s nice to have everyone home, when home and office collide, getting work done can be an exercise in futility. And for some of us, the concern that we’ll have difficulty ever getting back on track after our routines have been disrupted is very real and very scary.

I am one of those people who likes to work in silence, but I’ve also gotten used to working in ambient noise. When I’m working at home and household responsibilities begin to call to me too loudly, I often go to my local Starbucks to set up shop (this happened quite a bit during the holiday break). When it’s just me and my laptop, I quickly become accustomed to the noises around me because they don’t concern me, and it’s easier to focus on the task at hand.

edited chai cupSo, when a friend posted information about a white noise app, I decided to check it out. Maybe it would accomplish the same thing as my trips to Starbucks. I’d miss my iced chai  tea lattes, but I could save some money and, as an added bonus, stay in my pjs.

As you may know, I’m an app cheapskate, so while there is a paid White Noise app (recommended by Dr. Oz, according to the iTunes App Store and the app’s website), I opted for White Noise Lite, which is free.  The free app has 40 sounds and free downloads, and, I might add, many stellar reviews). The paid app has more sounds, no ads and probably a few more bells and whistles, perhaps literally.

As I played with the app I discovered quite a few things:

  • I am not a white noise person. Fortunately, there is also brown noise, pink noise, blue noise, and violet noise.  Of those, violet noise at low volume is my favorite, and the only single sound I didn’t reach over and turn off because it became annoying. (You can listen to each of these sounds, as well as finding out more about white noise here).
  • Although I love the beach, the power of suggestion renders water sounds alone (14 of the 40 sounds on the app) absolutely useless to me.
  • I do much better with complex sounds (what the app calls “mixes”) than simple, single sounds. The city, crowd and train combo and the frogs & stream combo (which, when I added cricket to the mix, sounds exactly like nighttime out on the screened in porch of the beach condo we rent) are my favorites.
  • Playing with pitch, volume and balance in the mixes makes a huge difference.
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I started out thinking this app was not for me at all — at least not in the daytime. I could certainly see the usefulness of this app for sleep, but initially struggled to find its value as a relaxation or focusing tool.

But the more I played with the mixes and the options, the more I started to like it. In addition to pitch and volume, the mixes allow you to adjust balance, position and variance of the individual sounds in the mix. I particularly liked the timer and fade out features, that allow you to set the duration of the sounds, and although I haven’t played much with the alarm feature, it intrigues me.

Might be nice to wake up at the beach.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2015 Lisa Hess

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About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and is a blogger at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at Catholicmom.com. She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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