What is Brown Noise & How Does it Help People with ADHD?

"Brillia works by seeking out and attaching to S100B to regulate its activity, consequently reducing symptoms like anxiety, restlessness, inattention, and hyperactivity."
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White noise gets a lot of attention when it comes to sound machines that help to mask background noise and potentially help you sleep better. But you may not be aware that noise comes in various colors: pink, white, black, violet, and brown. And the latter is making waves for helping people with ADHD.

In 2022, the hashtag #brownnoise garnered over 86 million views on TikTok.1 Top videos depicted ADHD TikTokers recording their reactions to brown noise, with several saying that their brains had never felt quieter. To break down why this shade of noise went viral, we’ve dug into the research behind brown noise and how it works to ease common symptoms of ADHD.

What is Brown Noise? 

Also known as red noise, brown noise is a type of low-frequency sound that gets its name from the 19th-century Scottish botanist Robert Brown. Brown discovered a certain kind of random microscopic motion that is now referred to as Brownian motion. Brown noise is said to mimic that motion. Sound signals change at random to produce a low-frequency static sound that is simultaneously soothing, steady, and rumbly. According to Dr. Daniel Berlau, a professor at the Regis University School of Pharmacy who has studied the impact of white noise on ADHD, when we play brown noise, we hear every frequency that the ear is able to detect at once, creating an immersive, calming experience.2

Is There a Difference Between White Noise & Brown Noise? 

Each color of noise represents long-lasting patterns of frequencies that range from 20 to 20,000 hertz. Brown noise has fewer high frequencies and more random movement of sound. Where white noise might sound like continuous T.V. static, brown noise sounds more like the low rumble of distant thunder, a fan blowing currents of air, or ocean waves crashing to the shore.

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How Brown Noise Works to Quiet the Brain

Some researchers believe that brown noise may help to quiet the brain because of its masking effect. This means it can drown out other sounds and distractions that can lead to overwhelm. 

And some experts believe the calming effect of brown noise may be more historical. According to doctor of audiology Amy Sarow, AuD, brown noise triggers relaxation because of its similarities to the brain's resting state and because the sound may mimic being inside the womb.3

Brown noise can also be especially helpful or those with anxiety. According to Andrew Kahn, PsyD, associate director of behavior change and expertise at Understood, people with anxiety tend to be on high alert.4 They’ll search for evidence of danger in every little sound in their environment. Brown noise helps reduce their reactivity to those little sounds in their environment and makes them feel as if they are in a protective bubble. This facilitates a sense of calm, supports sleep, and even aids concentration.

Helping with Concentration: Brown Noise & ADHD

The power of brown noise in reducing symptoms of ADHD, specifically lack of concentration, is mostly anecdotal. But there is some scientific evidence supporting the claims recently made by TikTokers with ADHD. Beyond its auditory masking function and soothing qualities resembling the womb, brown noise may also have a positive impact on the brain’s dopamine levels, which tend to be lower in people with ADHD.5 

Göran Söderlund, a researcher at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, tells the Washington Post that brown noise somehow causes the brain to mimic the effects of dopamine.6 Dr. Yamalis Diaz, an assistant professor in the department of child & adolescent psychiatry at N.Y.U. Langone Health elaborates on this theory by explaining that without enough dopamine, the ADHD brain stays “hungry” while you’re trying to concentrate. Listening to brown noise (or any noise, she argues) seems to assign the circuits a task, she says: “You listen to this, while I focus on this task.”7

What is the Best Way to Find & Use Brown Noise? 

From YouTube to Spotify, there are numerous places where you can find brown noise playlists. But it’s worthwhile to invest in a sound machine if you feel that you may become distracted by everything else online, which would obviously be counterproductive. After all, studies show that excessive screen time not only exacerbates ADHD symptoms, but it can also mimic symptoms.7 So even those without ADHD, especially children, may display what looks like symptoms of ADHD, when really they’ve just had too much screen time.

If you’re using brown noise to improve your sleep, be sure that your sound machine or playlist is continuous and will play on a loop. That way, you won’t wake up when the sound stops, which can make it harder to fall back asleep.  

Brown noise is just one tool to consider when reducing inattention and other ADHD symptoms. At Brillia we are proponents of making healthier lifestyle changes to help improve these symptoms with our holistic 5 Pillar approach, which includes ways to enhance nutrition and sleep, practice mindfulness/relaxation techniques and control screen time. If you need more support, then you can consider taking Brillia, a non-prescription homeopathic medication that contains antibodies to the S100B protein, a key regulator of many different intracellular and extracellular brain processes, including various enzyme activities, calcium homeostasis, and communication between neurons. 

Free from harsh, synthetic chemicals and harmful side effects, Brillia works by seeking out and attaching to S100B to regulate its activity, consequently reducing symptoms like anxiety, restlessness, inattention, and hyperactivity. This regulating effect also normalizes the level of monoamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin) in different parts of the brain. Gentle and impactful, Brillia will not affect any other systems in the body nor will it cause any harmful interactions with other medications or supplements. Safe for children and adults, Brillia is not habit-forming, nor does it cause drowsiness, lethargy, or depression. The medication will not mask your personality or affect your weight in any way. And should you decide to stop Brillia, there are no “coming off” side effects because the medication does not alter blood chemistry. 

Learn more about how Brillia works and find other resources on managing ADHD at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.

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References: 1https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2022/11/14/brown-noise-adhd-focus/, 2https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/09/23/well/mind/brown-noise.htmlv, 3https://www.verywellmind.com/exploring-the-potential-of-pink-and-brown-noise-for-neurodivergent-individuals-6751354, 4https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2022/11/14/brown-noise-adhd-focus/, 5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4589406/, 6https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/09/23/well/mind/brown-noise.html, 7https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/childhood-adhd-screen-time

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