Brown Noise for ADHD and Why it Works

Demi Aspey
8mins read
Sep 8, 2023

Okay, we love celebrating our neurodiverse minds here at Deepwrk.

But let's be honest, ADHD symptoms can be a total drag sometimes! 

Especially when distractions and hyperactivity start impacting productivity and well-being. 

With numerous techniques and tools emerging, "brown noise for ADHD" strategies are gaining traction. 

Brown noise? Surely you mean white noise?

Nope! Brown noise is the latest frequency promising to tickle our brain waves.

So, I've tested this intriguing sound to reveal its potential benefits for us with ADHD.

What is Brown Noise? 🤎

Brown noise, often called 'Brownian noise', represents a specific sound wave characterised by its lower frequencies.

It creates a warm, consistent sound that often mirrors some natural sounds, like a steady waterfall or the rustle of leaves.

It can also sound like being on a plane when everyone's nodded off. Or like you're nestled up inside on a windy autumn day.

Think deep, low tones that are way stronger than you’d expect from white or pink (we’ll get on to that one!) noise.

Brown noise also doesn’t feature any higher frequencies. 

🎧 Give it a listen for yourself:

Unlike white noise with an even distribution of frequencies, or pink noise, which is stronger and deeper than white noise, brown noise focuses more on the lower end of the spectrum, making it smoother and oh so much deeper.

It's very calming, to say the least!

Why is it the sound of nature? 🍂

Not all brown noise includes nature sounds. You might find tracks that sound like being in a car on a long drive or the light hum of familiar places.

But nature resonates the most with brown noise frequencies!

From a bubbling brook to a rustling forest, brown noise can closely mimic many natural phenomena, offering listeners a calming, organic experience.

Even the rumble of a nearby storm does the trick!

Examples of Brown Noise

  • Steady waterfall
  • Rain on a tin roof
  • Gentle river flow

🎶 Here's another great example: 

Can Brown Noise Help Adults with ADHD? 🧠

The intricate connection between brown noise and ADHD arises from the potential of this sound to influence the brain's dopamine release.

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is super necessary for our attention and focus.

It's thought that ADHD directly relates to dopamine production, so we're often running low and in need of a boost.

While research on brown noise's direct impact on ADHD is still in its early stages, preliminary findings indicate potential benefits. However, there is a lack of large-scale studies and conclusive evidence in this area.

The sciencey bits behind it point to how ADHD brains need arousal (hence dopamine).

When we are in a state of low arousal, if we are tired or unmotivated, we often need external stimulation to keep momentum or even get started.

Too much stimulation can lead to distraction, so brown noise works very well for some ADHD brains. 

Then there’s a theory about something to the tune of “stochastic resonance”. Don’t worry, I’d never heard of it either!

It’s a phenomenon that has been studied meticulously, but can anyone tell you exactly how it works?


However, researchers know it can help to “sharpen the brain’s filtering mechanism — its ability to tamp down distracting information and to sharpen what you’re trying to pay attention to,” according to Additude Magazine. 

So, while the hard evidence proves unclear, a surefire way to test it out is to listen to it!

I've been listening to it while writing and sleeping, and it's working wonders. 

It's less distracting than music with lyrics or too much tempo. And I don't find myself getting overly engaged with different thoughts as I would if I were to listen to a podcast.

After a while, though, it can start to over-arouse my brain.

Some studies highlight that “most people with ADHD have cortical under-arousal and a minority have over-arousal”. I’d say I fall into the under-arousal category, but too much of a good thing can tip our brains into the over-arousal zone.

adhd i cant concentrate gif

It’s a simple fix, though: either turn the brown noise down or off! 

What are the Benefits of Brown Noise for Managing ADHD? 🎧

Brown noise has shown promise in several areas that can support individuals with ADHD:

Enhanced Concentration & Focus with Brown Noise 👩‍💻

With ADHD, maintaining prolonged attention can be like wrangling an octopus. 

Brown noise, with its consistent, low-frequency spectrum, can provide a conducive background that minimises distractions, facilitating improved concentration.

It's meditative in quality and helps me stay grounded in a task rather than reaching for additional stimulation every two minutes!

Brown Noise Reduces Anxiety 🙌

The calming nature of brown noise can potentially counteract anxiety, a common challenge among ADHD adults.

I often find my mind wandering, battling a cavern of thoughts or feeling nervous about upcoming events or deadlines. 

Brown noise has helped me remain focused and serene while I reign in on creative projects.

Brown Noise Promotes Better Sleep 💤

Restlessness and disrupted sleep are frequent concerns for folks with ADHD.

Brown noise, resembling natural, calming sounds, can help induce a state conducive to rest and relaxation. 

I used to fight relentlessly for sleep, trying to force myself to enter the land of nod without my favourite TV show playing in the background.

I always give in because some sleep is better than none, but it can lead to a disrupted night's sleep, worsening ADHD symptoms.

Brown noise seems to be doing the trick, though, which, let me tell you, is revolutionary!

I don't find my brain wandering into the show's plot or remaining hooked on the next episode.

Instead, my thoughts can drift with the motion of waves and settle amongst nature.

Brown noise adhd rain sounds meme

Improved Cognition & Brain Function with Brown Noise ⚙️

Research by Göran Söderlund has indicated that specific background noises, like brown noise, might positively impact memory and language processing for those with ADHD.

What is the Difference Between Brown, White, and Pink Noise? 🎵

Each noise type—brown, white, and pink—has a unique frequency distribution. 

Brown noise is deeper and more resonant, making it resemble natural sounds. White noise masks sound across all frequencies equally, while pink noise balances the two. 

Additionally, the topic of binaural beats is gaining popularity, showing promise in enhancing focus and concentration.

Essential “binaural” refers to using two different frequencies played simultaneously so the brain perceives them as one tone.

Binaural beats aren’t as freely available (🫠) as our other colourful frequencies, so we’ll give them a rain check for now!

White, Pink or Brown Noise for ADHD: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the nuances of each sound can guide individuals with ADHD in selecting the background noise that suits their preferences and needs best.

White Noise and its Effects on ADHD 🤍

White noise, characterised by its even distribution of all frequencies on the spectrum, can mask distractions, but its impact on ADHD symptoms varies from individual to individual.

For those without ADHD, white noise can be too distracting. But for people with ADHD, some studies have found it can improve focus, memory, and productivity. 

A lot of the time, white noise is simply referred to as background noise.

Background noise adhd meme

Again, there’s not much research on the topic, but many from the ADHD community cannot sing white noise’s praises highly enough, so something’s working!

Pink Noise and its Effects on ADHD 🩷

Will it surprise you that little research has been done on pink noise for ADHD?

Nah! But it also does some good for our all too often distracted minds.

Pink noise, deeper than white noise but less so than brown noise, has also been explored to aid sleep and concentration. It’s more constant and works as a brain filter to remove background distractions such as cars or the goings-on of the outdoors. 

It seems the optimum choice if you’re in the market for soothing and gentle sounds to rock yourself to sleep with.

You may also find that pink noise is called “ambient noise”.

How and Where to Listen to Brown Noise? 📻

Integrating brown noise into your routine is straightforward, making it accessible for anyone keen on giving some new frequencies a whirl!

Where to Access Brown Noise?

Several platforms provide brown noise streams:

Exploring Brown Noise on YouTube 

Numerous channels offer hours-long brown noise tracks for relaxation, focus, or sleep.

Here are a few I’ve hand-selected to save you from getting lost in a YouTube abyss:

Websites with Brown Noise Generators: 

Sites like SimplyNoise and Noisli allow the customisation of soundscapes that include brown noise.

Become the DJ of your own frequencies!

Panda DJ gif mixing brown noise adhd

Mobile Apps for Brown Noise on the Go:

Apps like BrainFM, Endel, Focus@Will, Relax Melodies, and Better Sleep offer brown noise options, ensuring you have access even on the move.

Although quite broad, Spotify & Soundcloud also offer brown noise streaming.

You can also listen to binaural beats, brown noise and other focus music during Deepwrk's ADHD coworking sessions.

The Sound of Progress 👏

Whatever your jam, there’s surely a colour of sound to help your brain.

Give each a listen, or try mixing a frequency with one of the generators!

For more on managing ADHD, consider exploring Deepwrk's body doubling app to aid focus and task completion.

Discover numerous tools, insights, and resources tailored for our Deepwrking ADHD community.

Frequently Asked Questions❔

1. What is the difference between brown noise vs. white noise? 

Brown noise is characterised by its lower, lower and resonant frequencies. It creates a warm, consistent sound that often mirrors some natural sounds, like a steady waterfall or the rustle of leaves.

Research suggests that brown noise can minimise distractions, improve concentration, reduce anxiety, and promote better sleep for people with ADHD.

White noise (or background noise) is characterised by even distribution of all frequencies on the spectrum. Some studies suggest white noise can improve focus, productivity and memory for ADHD adults.

Pink noise (or ambient noise) is deeper than white noise but less so than brown noise. It’s more constant and works as a brain filter to remove background distractions such as cars or the goings-on of the outdoors.

2. How can I incorporate brown noise into my daily routine?

Starting with short sessions during work or relaxation can be beneficial.

Gradually increase the duration as you find comfort.

You can also try it while you prepare for sleep, instead of watching YouTube or Netflix

3. Can brown noise be harmful?

As with any sound, prolonged exposure at high volumes might affect hearing.

Always ensure a comfortable volume.

4. Can brown noise improve sleep quality for individuals with ADHD?

While some users report improved sleep, personal experiences vary.

It's worth trying to see if it benefits you.

5. Is brown noise suitable for everyone with ADHD?

Everyone's experience with ADHD is unique.

Brown noise might be beneficial for some and not others.

It's essential to assess individual responses.

Sources & References

  1. Lin HY. (2022). The effects of white noise on attentional performance and on-task behaviors in preschoolers with ADHD.
  2. Pickens TA, et al. (2019). White noise as a possible therapeutic option for children with ADHD.
  3. Sodulerund GBW, et al. (2016). Comparing auditory noise treatment with stimulant medication on cognitive task performance in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Results from a pilot study.
  4. Soderlund GBW, et al. (2007). Listen to the noise: Noise is beneficial for cognitive performance in ADHD.
  5. Wiersema, JR, et al. (2018). Interoceptive awareness in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  6. Woods KJP, et al. (2021). Stimulating music supports attention in listeners with attentional difficulties.
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Demi Aspey
Demi is the founder of the creative agency, Sonder Script, a culture columnist for House of Coco magazine, a part-time lecturer, and a soon-to-be Doctor in screenwriting. She is a scriptwriter by speciality and a copywriting cultivator by trade. Demi is a mental health advocate and was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult.