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What is Brown Noise and Can it Really Help You Concentrate?

Focused man wearing headphones writing notes studying with laptop.
fizkes/Shutterstock.com

We’ve all heard of white noise, the static-like sounds that people often leave on in the background to tune out distract noises and/or help them sleep. Think ceiling fans, vacuums, air conditioners etc.

In particular, people with insomnia or other sleep disorders often find that playing white noise in the background helps them fall asleep better.

White noise’s close cousin, brown noise, has recently gained traction on TikTok for similar reasons.

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Many people find brown noise even more effective at helping them than white noise, and people with conditions like ADHD have found that brown noise helps with overactive thoughts, fidgeting, or concentration issues.

But what exactly is brown noise and is there any truth to this claim?

HoMedics White Noise Sound Machine

If you've ever wanted to try out a white noise machine, this portable model with a built-in timer is a great option.

Brown noise is very similar to white noise, with similar static-like sounds. The difference is that brown noise has more prominent lower notes and lowers the volume on the higher-pitched notes found in white noise. Thus it’s more pleasant to the ear, and is more relaxing and less harsh for some people to listen to.

White noise has already been identified as potentially helpful for children with ADHD, but there simply isn’t enough scientific research to either back up or dismiss the claims about brown noise. There may be some truth to it; it may just be a placebo effect or sound masking (one sound blocking out others to reduce outside distractions).

Still, if you often have trouble sleeping or concentrating on your work, there’s no reason you can’t turn on some brown noise in the background and give it a try.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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