Can Brown Noise Turn Off Your Brain?

Is there evidence that noise therapy can help ADHD?

dr Soderlund and other researchers examined the benefits of white noise for children with dyslexia and ADHD. In one experiment, children with dyslexia took a 30-minute test of reading and remembering words; those who listened to white noise through headphones generally performed better on the test.

The noise allows them to focus better, said Dr. Soderlund, and to do academic work.

That could be because the brain’s prefrontal cortex in people with ADHD may have trouble filtering out the stimuli a person encounters in a particular environment, such as

People with ADHD may not have enough dopamine in their brain, a chemical that affects alertness and motivation, said Dr. Diaz. Without enough dopamine, the brain stays “hungry” while you’re trying to focus, explained Dr. Diaz. “While one part of your brain is trying to focus, the other part of your brain is looking for food.” When you hear a sound like brown, pink, or white noise, “you’re almost assigning a task to the circuitry,” she said. “‘You listen to this while I focus on this task.'”

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What about sound therapy and sleep?

Scientists have come to conflicting conclusions about whether a certain type of noise can help you sleep better. A 2020 review of 38 studies found limited evidence to support this White noise may improve sleep, despite the proliferation of white noise devices marketed for healthier nights. Some companies are promoting white noise devices to help babies sleep, claiming that the sound mimics the womb environment.

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There have been few studies on using brown noise as a sleep aid, although one of the claims floating around on TikTok is that it can help you nod off.

A decade ago, a group of researchers conducted a small study in which 40 participants were asked to listen to a steady stream of music purple noise while they slept all night. Using the participants’ brainwaves, the researchers saw that those who listened to pink noise had deeper sleep, with less complex brainwaves and better responses to sleep disturbances, compared to those who slept without the noise.

dr Berlau pointed to a simple theory as to why people say noise induces sleep — whether it’s pink, white, or some other hue. Noise can block out your downstairs neighbor, traffic, and your partner’s snoring.

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And experts said if any form of sound therapy works for you, there’s no harm in using it.

There is probably no danger in listening brown noise for, say, eight hours at a time, said Dr. Berlau, unless someone is playing the audio at an unsafe volume (listening to noise above 70 decibels for an extended period of time can damage your hearing).

Meanwhile, there are those who appreciate the noise.

“When you find that happy place — a quiet, calm, consistent brain,” said Dr. Diaz, “It feels so blissful.”

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