This white noise app helps me sleep amid my coronavirus anxiety

Having trouble sleeping? Hit Snooze is Mashable’s deep dive into how we cope with our collective insomnia and the many ways we can achieve a more peaceful slumber.


I’ve always had trouble sleeping. The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t exactly helped things. 

My phone, meanwhile, has never helped me sleep. In a pandemic, it might as well be pure caffeine.  

Often, these days, nighttime looks like this: I spend far too much time on Twitter, too much time scrolling through live updates, too many dives down rabbit holes — too many precious hours obsessing in a way that won’t change a damn thing. The clock keeps ticking, and it keeps getting later. Bad news, clock ticks; bad news, clock ticks; bad news, then, hopefully, thankfully, eventually I pass out.

Even in more normal times, I’d spend hours in bed, scrolling through dumb memes, reading about sports, or watching The Office on Netflix for the umpteenth time. 

Regardless of global pandemic status, my phone… well, it’s not an ideal companion for shuteye. I’m not really breaking any ground here — just about every expert would tell you to put the damn phone down before bed. My iPhone has long been a blue-lighted distraction with a never-ending buffet of crap to keep me awake. 

When it comes to getting sleep, there is almost nothing good about my phone.

Almost

Except that a long time ago, I downloaded a free app. It is not fancy. It’s not high-tech. I couldn’t even tell you its official name offhand. 

It’s just a noise machine app. It makes sounds, it helps me sleep, and it’s wonderful in its simplicity. 

It’s called White Noise Lite. (I looked it up.) I’m sure there are countless others that are just as good. Again, it’s just an app that makes noise.

But it has proven to be one of the most useful apps I’ve ever downloaded, if not the most useful app I’ve ever downloaded. For lots of sleepers, ambient nighttime noise effectively serves as a control over all of the other, uncontrolled noise the world throws at them. As HuffPost reported, ambient noise can gently captivate the brain during sleep, which blocks more disruptive, random sounds that might wake someone up. 

The sound of a window AC unit used to be just about the only thing that could lull me to sleep for my (at best) nightly six hours. I used to run an actual window AC unit during New York winters. 

But now I just use the app, which, conveniently, has an air-conditioning setting that sounds just like, you know, an air conditioner. And it’s got a ton of other options for ambient noise that’ll soothe you as well. If you’re into chirping frogs, plain white noise, babbling brooks, cars whizzing by, or even Tibetan singing bowls, well, then White Noise Lite has you covered.

Like lots of other people, I’ve often found it difficult to sleep when traveling or when I’m in a new location. But no matter where I go, with this app on my phone I’ve got a decent chance at a decent night’s sleep. When I turn it on and the whir of the faux-AC snaps to life, any bed feels much more like home. 

Take the recent pandemic. My fiancée and I relocated outside of NYC to a remote location last week. (Don’t worry: we’ve been self-isolating in the house to be sure we aren’t silent carriers of the coronavirus.) 

I’m in a new bed. My anxiety… well… my anxiety is high. Very high. But, all things considered, I’ve been sleeping OK. 

That’s because, in part, every night this new world sounds just like home, and like far more normal times. I’ve got the low-quality-audio hum of a fake air conditioner. I’ve been sleeping OK. And sometimes OK is about all you can ask for. 

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