Posts tagged with "Real Simple magazine"

Fade to black: Does white noise, pink noise, or brown noise lull you to sleep?

September 6, 2019

Finding the right “sleep noise” can mean better sleep for years to come, according to researchers, Real Simple reports. But you have to know what type—or specifically what color of noise—lulls you into a dream state.

White noise-a machine-generated sound that contains all frequencies—gets the most attention from sleep experts. Using a white noise machine, a white noise app, or a white noise fan man improve your sleep dramatically. But if it doesn’t, don’t give up. There are other sleep noises out there that may offer you superior benefits.

“There’s been a lot of confusion about what white noise is,” says Sam Nicolino, a sound engineer, musician, and founder of Adaptive Sound Technologies (ASTI), the Silicon Valley-based firm  behind the LectroFan and Sound+Sleep series of sound machines promising a better night’s rest.

The phrase white noise has come to be broadly applied to all sorts of background noise, but white noise is actually a carefully constructed sound. It doesn’t occur in nature—it’s purely a mathematical construct, Nicolino told Real Simple. Many sounds are similar to white noise, but they’re not quite the same.

The sound can be very staticky. “For most people, it’s very unpleasant,” Nicolino says—so if you tried a white noise machine and truly disliked it, you’re not alone or out of options.

The sleep benefits from white noise don’t come from the sound itself; they come from the sound’s ability to mask other disturbances.

“When you don’t have a sleep machine, every little noise that occurs in your sleep environment has the potential of rousing you,” Rafael Pelayo, MD, a clinical professor in Stanford University’s Sleep Medicine Division, National Sleep Foundation board member, and long-time ASTI adviser, told the news outlet. “Having a pleasing background sound can prevent you from hearing these little disruptive noises.”

White noise is popular because it’s uniform, but what happens when you can’t stand white noise? It may be time to check out pink noise or brown noise.

Pink noise is white noise with fewer high frequencies.

To create pink noise, Nicolino says sound engineers take white noise and filter out high frequencies. “Pink noise sounds kind of like rain,” he says. Like white noise, though, pink noise isn’t exactly like any noise from nature. Listening to a rainfall sound machine isn’t pink or white noise—it’s simply ambient sound recording on a loop.

Sometimes called Brownian noise, Brown noise is white noise stripped of more high frequencies; it consists of lower frequencies than even pink noise.

“Brown noise can sound like a really uneventful ocean surf,” Nicolino told the magazine. It has more bass notes than white noise, making it more pleasant to listen to. And, unlike white and pink noise, brown noise is named for Robert Brown, who discovered Brownian motion (which creates the sound) in 1827, Dr. Pelayo says. (For the grammatically compulsive, this is why Brown noise is often capitalized.) “People seem to prefer the lower-toned sounds,” Dr. Pelayo says.

Most sound machines—such as the sleep fan—emit only one sleep noise. This works if you like the noise, but it can limit options.

However, Real Simple points out, some sound machines, such as the LectroFan from ASTI ($47;, offer many different sounds. In creating the sounds, Nicolino says, he and his team extended white, pink, and brown noise to create several different noises, ranging from white noise to a very deep brown noise. This sound machine is, in effect, a white noise machine, a pink noise machine, and a brown noise machine all in one—great for someone who can’t stand staticky white noise or who wants different sounds for different situations.

Beyond the noise itself, you should consider whether the sound machine or app you’re looking at loops. Some—especially those that feature nature recordings—loop the sound, which can disrupt sleep, the magazine advises.

At the end of the day (or night, in this case), it all comes down to personal preference. “People are going to choose a sound simply on what they like,” Dr. Pelayo says. “Once people settle into a sound spectrum that they like, they stick to it.”

Research contact: @RealSimple

Show your ‘true colors’: Personality test matches you with your perfect decorating palette

June 21, 2019

We’ve all taken a variety of online personality quizzes—tests that promised to help us choose a dream job; assigned us to a Hogwarts house, and even determined once and for all which character on the show, Friends, we are most like.

Now, there’s a test that we’re sure we all will pass with “flying colors.” Sherwin-Williams is giving the standard personality quiz a home decor spin with the launch of its new ColorSnap Color ID quiz, Real Simple magazine reports.

After taking the quiz this morning (spoiler alert: I got “The Naturalist”), I know that I “embrace the outdoors and want to help everything around [me] thrive. [I find myself] most at peace when surrounded by nature, walking along a rugged trail or just sitting in the sun.”

What’s more, “I let in the fresh air” with a color palette of Pearl gray, Dark night, Pale moss, Suitable brown, Intellectual gray, Lemon verbena, Pewter green, Verde marron, Chamois, Creamy, Shitake, Natural tan, and Waterloo paints.

Instead of a singular color, the results guide you toward a range of 16 coordinated options to help you explore fresh paint colors you’ve maybe never considered. The paint colors aren’t bound to a specific home decor style, so no matter if your style is more modern farmhouse or warm industrial, you’ll be able to incorporate your favorite paint colors from the palette into your space.

And I learned all of this after answering just a handful of questions about my favorite couch (out of three choices), coffee table, wall hanging, musical preferences, and favorite plants.

In total, there are eight distinct personality types and color palettes, including a Minimalist range that’s full of soothing grays; and a Creative palette that features bold colors for confident home decorators, such as a peacock blue.

Curious which Sherwin-Williams paint colors are the most popular? Just check out the Nurturer palette, which features some of the brand’s best-selling paint colors. If you’re on the hunt for a crowd-pleasing shade of blue or the ideal shade of off-white, you’ll find it here.

Research contact: @SherwinWilliams

The great white hope: 10 bleach-free teeth-whitening alternatives

March 6, 2019

If you would like to flash somebody a smile, but you are self-conscious about your less-than-pearly whites, you have plenty of company. In a recent study conducted among professional members of the American Association of Orthodontists, nearly 90% said that their patients requested tooth-whitening procedures.

In fact, the association says, the demand for tooth whitening has grown almost exponentially in the United States over the past 20 years.

But, don’t just reach for the bleach to whiten those choppers. Real Simple magazine recommends ten alternative treatments that will brighten your teeth without harsh chemicals. And the variety of choices may surprise you—among them:

  • Banana peels: Believe it or not, this option even is recommended by dentists. Bananas are high in potassium, magnesium, and manganese, and their peel is an effective tool for teeth whitening. The pros advise starting with a banana that is just barely ripe, because that’s when they have the optimum amount of potassium for whitening and brightening teeth. Cut off a small part of the peel and rub the inside of it against your teeth for about two minutes, covering as many teeth as thoroughly as possible in that time. When you’re done, be sure to brush your teeth. Bananas are loaded with sugar, so properly cleaning your teeth after using this treatment is essential. An important note: Limit the use of the banana peels to just once a day or even just once a week for optimal results.
  • Activated charcoal: Rubbing a black, sooty-looking substance all over your teeth in order to brighten your smile might seem counterintuitive, but, Real Simple says, it’s quite effective. Activated charcoal removes toxins from your mouth while also killing bad bacteria, preventing cavities, and keeping the pH balanced. Some users opt for charcoal toothpaste or polish, while others buy charcoal pills from the store, crack them open, and use the powder mixed with water as their toothpaste. You might miss the minty freshness of traditional toothpaste, and your charcoal stained toothbrush might gross you out a bit, but hopefully your new, whiter smile will be worth it.
  • Strawberries and baking soda: Mix one strawberry with a half-teaspoon of baking soda and applying the mixture to your teeth for five minutes. When you brush your teeth with a traditional toothpaste afterwards (a must!), you also might consider flossing. Those strawberry seeds can get stuck between your molars.
  • Turmeric: People have been singing the praises of turmeric. Some dip a wet toothbrush directly into the turmeric powder (and then brace themselves, because it doesn’t taste very good), and then let the turmeric sit on their teeth for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly. After that, you can brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste and, once all remnants of the yellow powder have disappeared, you should have a whiter smile to show for it.
  • Coconut oil: This might be just another use for readers who already use coconut oil for everything from a moisturizer, to a hair mask, but “oil pulling” with coconut oil (using it like a mouthwash) seems to have some merit. But it seems to be a lot of work: For the most effective results, you should oil pull daily for 20 minutes—but, Real Simple advises, “feel free to start at five if your jaw gets tired,” and adds, “Don’t go crazy on the amount of oil you swish around—most people can use about a teaspoon of oil and see results.”
  • Lemon or orange peels: People have seen some success in using the rind of lemons and oranges for teeth whitening. If you do this, be sure to rinse thoroughly after, or even brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste to avoid acid erosion of your teeth.. Some people simply add a few drops of orange essential oil to their toothpaste instead, which is safer for your teeth, according to this study.
  • Lemon juice and baking soda: Mix lemon juice with a little bit of baking soda before drying your teeth with a cotton ball or swab to prep for the treatment. Apply the combo to your teeth, let it sit for a minute, and then gently brush it off. Be sure not to keep it on for more than a minute. After that, you run the risk of enamel erosion.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Dentists recommend creating a solution that is one part apple cider vinegar and two parts water. Swish it around in your mouth for about a minute, rinse; and then wait at least a half hour to brush your teeth to avoid damaging your enamel. This won’t lead to an instantly brighter smile—but if it’s used properly and consistently, it’s a reliable, long-term organic tooth whitening alternative.
  • Guava leaves: Guava juice is great, but guava leaves are apparently the part of the fruit with the benefits. Crush the leaves up with a mortar and pestle to create a coarse toothpaste. Brush with it like you would normally, and rinse. Unlike some citrus-based teeth whitening solutions, guava leaves aren’t acidic, so you don’t have to worry about enamel erosion if you keep it on for too long. Bonus: Guava leaves might help alleviate tooth pain, too.
  • Clay: Most of us wouldn’t think of putting clay in our mouths, but it does have some tooth polishing potential. Use water and clay to create a paste, and then apply to your teeth for about two minutes. Over time, your teeth should appear whiter and feel cleaner, too, with zero risk of damage or sensitivity.

So, if you want to look as bright and white as your local news anchor, your favorite actress, or even your next-door neighbor—and probably do it at a lower cost—reach into the cupboard or refrigerator instead of the medicine cabinet.

Nervous? Bring this list along the next time you go to the dentist and ask for a qualified opinion!

Research contact: @RealSimple