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Here’s How Brown Noise is Helping People Achieve Better Sleep

Once TikTok gets a hold of a well-being hack, it becomes a viral trend. TikTokers have discovered brown noise and are spreading the word about its relaxing effects. A video shared by user @adhd_assist, which features a sound sample, has been liked over a million times. 


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Lots of commenters were impressed by the short clip. “It has relaxed me; I feel like sleeping. I’m going to sleep while playing this. Thank you,” wrote a TikTok user. “This noise seems to stop my thoughts; I have no other way of explaining it,” added another. “Oh my goodness!! White noise was never soothing to me. But THIS!! I can get with this!” raved one commenter.  

Brown Noise vs White Noise 

To understand the distinction between brown noise and white noise, it helps to break down both types of sound. The Sleep Foundation defines white noise as “a noise that contains all frequencies across the spectrum of audible sound in equal measure,” which is sometimes referred to as “broadband noise.” It’s comparable to television static. 

Brown noise is also considered a broadband sound, but without the higher frequencies. “Brown noise is even deeper, even stronger, at the low end and without the high-frequency sounds of white and pink noise. It can sound similar to the hard, gentle surf that comes with a storm,” according to Sound of Sleep.

If you enjoy the sound of the ocean or find yourself relaxing on planes because of the constant hum of the aircraft, you will likely prefer brown noise. 

The Benefits 

You’ve probably heard of people using noise machines to fall asleep. In one study, people fell asleep 38% faster while listening to white noise. Brown noise is similar, but many find it more pleasant for their ears. A study on the effects of different sounds on tinnitus revealed that one-third of patients preferred brown noise because it reminded them of soothing sounds like a shower or rainfall. 

“When you don’t have a sleep machine, every little noise that occurs in your sleep environment has the potential to rouse you,” Rafael Pelayo, MD, clinical professor in Stanford University’s Sleep Medicine Division, National Sleep Foundation board member, and long-time ASTI adviser, told Real Simple. “A pleasing background sound can prevent you from hearing these little disruptive noises.”

Many TikTokers also say that brown noise helps alleviate their anxiety and cope with ADHD symptoms during their waking hours. 

How To Use Brown Noise At Night 

There are plenty of YouTube videos that play brown noise on a multi-hour loop. If this works well for you, consider getting a sound machine. Most of the options on the market are white noise machines, but some come with additional features, including lower toned brown noise. 

Keep in mind that there haven’t been specific studies on the sleep benefits of brown noise, so it comes down to preference. But if you find constant sounds soothing at night and white noise makes you cringe, it may be a better option.  

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11/23/2023 06:36 pm GMT

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