Since I’ve been working third shift, sleep is kind of important to me. But since I’m usually sleeping during the day, there are all sorts of distractions that can interrupt my rest. There are two big things that really make the difference for me: a good sleep mask and the right kind of static noise.
I would have thought the blackout curtains and turning off the light would be enough, and that I wouldn’t notice the difference wearing a sleep mask. Oh man, was I ever wrong. Consider me a convert for totally dark rooms — or wearing a mask like this if I want to really sleep well.
The specific sleep mask I ended up settling with is this "Sleep Mask for Side Sleeper, 100% Blackout 3D Eye Mask for Sleeping, Night Blindfold for Men Women" from Amazon. It’s soft, very adjustable, doesn’t feel like it’s rubbing against my eyes (or eyelashes), and is relatively inexpensive. As I write this, there are three-packs (in some color assortments) for less than $15 on Amazon.
The second thing that I’ve found particularly useful is "pink noise."
You’ve probably heard of "white noise" before; there are several different "color" variants like "brown" and "pink" and "violet" and others. Basically, pink noise has a slightly lower pitch than white noise. I — and several other people I know — have our own anecdata that pink noise works better for covering up other noises than white noise, which is why I use it.
How you get your masking background noise is up to you. There’s a plethora of apps for handhelds and tablets. Windows users can still use Raindrop, commandline enthusiasts can use SBaGEN, and MyNoise.net is a great browser-based resource.
What I do not use are the videos on YouTube, for a few simple reasons.
- The screen is on — or I risk the sound shutting off.
- The possible risk of having an ad cut in right in the middle of things.
- You need a moderately decent internet connection — I’m looking at you, crappy hotel wi-fi.
- Nearly every one of the "ten hours of…" are relatively short loops of only a few minutes… and the join between the loops is just audible enough that my brain notices. Not a great thing when you’re trying to sleep.
So I created a couple of audio files to reduce or eliminate these problems, and I’m sharing them with you.
I first created a base two-hour 16-bit WAV uncompressed WAV file of pink noise using SBaGEN. Unfortunately, due to file size limits and the like, I couldn’t generate more than two hours in one go with the program, but that’s where SOX and ffmpeg came in handy. With SOX, I repeated that two-hour block (and without any audible "click" or "join"). That got… well, huge (1.2 gigs of data per two-hour block), and then used SOX or ffmpeg to convert those WAV files into MP3, OGG, and M4A (aac codec for you iTunes folks) files that are more usable and relatively portable.
I’ve put the files up on Google Drive as well as the Internet Archive for sharing — eight and ten hour variants of pink noise in those three formats, plus the uncompressed two-hour original WAV file that I used to generate them. Since I’m the one who created these files using open source tools, I’m putting these files into the public domain for you to use freely. All that I’d ask is that you copy them to your own Google Drive (or local machine, or whatever) rather than trying to stream directly from Google Drive. If you find them useful, feel free to toss me a little bit of change via Ko-Fi, or alternately, contribute to MyNoise.net, which I also strongly recommend you check out for other types of background ambiance.
I highly recommend both of these for improving the quality of your sleep, and hope you find them useful as well.
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