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Why Does Brown Noise Help with ADHD?


What is Brown Noise?

Brown noise refers to low-frequency ambient sounds that create a deep, rumbling sensation. It gets its name from Robert Brown, who discovered the random movement of particles he termed “Brownian motion.” The sound waves in brown noise mimic this type of random motion to produce a static-like sound.

Examples of brown noise include:

  • Thunderstorms
  • Heavy rain
  • Strong winds
  • Rolling ocean waves
  • Rumbling jet engines

Compared to other types of ambient sound, brown noise focuses on lower frequencies rather than a full spectrum of sound waves. For example, white noise contains all audible frequencies played at equal intensity, creating a hissing quality.

Meanwhile, pink noise features a mix of high and low frequencies, resulting in a balanced, raindrop-like sound. Brown noise purposely amplifies the lower, bass frequencies to produce its characteristic rumbling effect.

The Viral Brown Noise Trend for ADHD

In recent years, people with ADHD have popularized the use of brown noise to help manage their symptoms. On platforms like TikTok, ADHDers report that listening to the deep rumble helps them concentrate, relax, and sleep better.

The #brownnoise hashtag has amassed millions of views, with people reacting to their first time hearing brown noise or describing it as a “game changer” for their ADHD. However, despite its viral status, the science behind brown noise’s effects on ADHD remains limited.

Why Might Brown Noise Help ADHD?

Although research is still emerging, there are some theoretical reasons why brown noise may positively impact those with ADHD:

Auditory Masking

The deep, immersive quality of brown noise can drown out distracting background noises. Auditory masking creates a cocoon of sound that minimizes external distractions. This may allow people with ADHD to better focus on work and other tasks.

Soothing, Calming Effect

While brown noise contains low rumbly tones, many still find the sound relaxing. Listening to steady, thunder-like noise may promote relaxation and help calm racing thoughts. The ability to relax may also promote better sleep.

Increased Brain Stimulation

Individuals with ADHD often have low dopamine levels in the brain, making it harder to focus on one task. The sound waves from brown noise may stimulate the brain by mimicking dopamine’s arousing effects. This auditory stimulation can support concentration and attention.

Stochastic Resonance

Some research shows that a moderate level of noise can enhance cognition through a phenomenon called stochastic resonance. The brain may process the low-level noise signals from brown noise in a way that sharpens focus and improves performance.

Studies on Brown Noise for ADHD

While these theories provide plausible mechanisms, direct research on brown noise and ADHD remains scarce. However, some related studies on other types of noise lend credibility to the potential benefits:

White Noise Research

Several small studies on white noise, which contains a balance of high and low frequencies, found improved cognition in children with ADHD. In one study, children with ADHD completed cognitive tasks more accurately with white noise playing in the background.

Pink Noise Research

Pink noise also emphasizes lower, rumbling frequencies like brown noise. A 2012 study showed that playing pink noise during sleep improved sleep quality and brain function upon waking. Enhanced sleep could be one way brown noise helps ADHD.

However, researchers caution more specific studies are needed before making definitive claims about brown noise for ADHD management.

How to Use Brown Noise for ADHD

While more research is still needed, using brown noise is generally considered safe and low risk. If you have ADHD and want to try brown noise, here are some recommended tips:

1. Find a Good Source

YouTube videos, smartphone apps, Spotify playlists, and sound machines can all provide high-quality brown noise. Choose a source that you find pleasant and mentally soothing.

2. Use Headphones

Over-ear headphones help block external sounds and fully immerse you in the brown noise. Noise-cancelling headphones work particularly well to minimize distractions.

3. Start Short

When first using brown noise, listen for only 10-15 minutes at a time. See how this initial exposure affects your concentration and attention.

4. Adjust the Volume

Make sure to keep the brown noise at a moderate, comfortable level to avoid damaging your hearing. A good guideline is 60% of a device’s maximum volume.

5. Note the Effects

Pay attention to how brown noise affects your focus, sleep, and ability to complete tasks. Keep a journal to help track benefits and optimize your listening schedule.

Other Ways to Manage ADHD

While brown noise may provide some assistance, it should not replace traditional ADHD treatments. Other evidence-based ways to manage ADHD include:


Stimulant and non-stimulant medications help regulate attention, concentration, and hyperactivity in the ADHD brain.


Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective for developing ADHD coping skills and life strategies.


Keep work and home environments neat and distraction-free. Use organizational systems that fit your needs.

Exercise and Sleep

Staying active and getting enough sleep help minimize the impact of ADHD symptoms.

Healthy Eating

Follow a nutrient-rich diet to support brain health. Consider specialized diets that restrict sugar and refined carbs.

For optimal ADHD management, use brown noise as part of a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your needs.

The Bottom Line

While the science is still preliminary, many people with ADHD report beneficial effects from incorporating brown noise into their routines. If you struggle with concentration, distraction, or sleep difficulties, playing brown noise is a simple strategy to try out.

Pay attention to your individual reactions and adjust volume, duration, and listening times accordingly. Combining brown noise with other lifestyle approaches and ADHD treatments can help you manage symptoms and thrive.

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