Can Brown Noise Help You Sleep?

Lisa, a patient of ours, was excited to share her use of brown noise for getting a good night’s sleep.  “All I gotta say is, I’m waking up refreshed and rested, where before I just felt awful in the morning.  I haven’t even looked into the data on my sleep app, I just know I feel better when I use brown noise.”

And what is brown noise?  It’s similar to white noise, which may be more familiar, but brown noise is stronger in the lower frequencies, or deeper sounds.  According to Lisa, it sounds like the roar of a river current or a strong wind.  “It’s good for relaxation and general sleep improvement.  For ADHD it drowns out the distracting chatter of thoughts and helps with focus,” Lisa explains.

White noise, which sounds like a continuous “shushing” sound has been researched for some time as people have used it to help them sleep.  The jury is still out, but there is some mixed evidence that white noise can help people relax, and tune out worrying thoughts.  Experts caution that you should never put the volume up too high, or hearing can be affected over the long term.  Some also recommend putting the noise machine or app on a timer, so that it goes off after a time, allowing your ears to rest.

Other colors of noise, including brown, pink, violet and blue are receiving some recent social media buzz, and there are a lot of testimonials to be found on You Tube and similar sources.  Pink noise has fewer high-frequency sounds mixed in, so it sounds lower, though not as low as brown noise.  Pink noise is supposed to be better for people who are usually light sleepers.

Blue noise, on the other hand, runs in a higher frequency, and sounds like a hissing, like a leaky garden hose.  It is recommended for people who don’t hear high-frequency sound very well, but is less popular, and may not be included in many of the simpler apps or sleep machines.

In spite of the lack of solid research, more and more people are trying out different colors of noise when they sleep, and some are also using it for work times, or homework times for children, especially those with ADHD.  As Lisa says “all I know is it works for me!”

More info on healthy sleep:

Effective strategies for insomnia

Insomnia treatment recommendations

Sleep and insomnia