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For some with ADHD, the low rumble of brown noise quiets the brain (washingtonpost.com)
397 points by wslh 68 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 310 comments




I don't know if I have ADHD, but if I do an online survey it says I most probably definitely do. I was never diagnosed as a child because I largely functioned as a kid and was quiet and non-disruptive, but looking back the signs were all there.

Fast forward as an adult I have a number of coping mechanisms and one of them is to have something on in the background. I have never associated the effectiveness with the noise itself, but rather with something that is keeping part of my brain quiet. It prevents my mind from wandering. It is ideally something I already know. Like a show I have seen before or a podcast that I am okay not fully retaining. Not enough stimulation and I get distracted easily, too much stimulation and I shut down completely. Music doesn't usually work for me.


> I was never diagnosed as a child because I largely functioned as a kid and was quiet and non-disruptive

Those pesky ADHD-Impulsive giving us a bad name.

Same here, diagnosed but I was the most calm and polite kid ever. The hyperactivity is inside my head. There's a hamster running in circles at 9000 RPM and it's never taken a break.

"You're overthinking it", people say to me. You have no idea.


I’m guilty of overthinking everything. It’s come in handy as a programmer but it tends to hold me back socially.

I’d often think about social interactions ahead of time. My brain would create countless situations that I’d play out. Once I exhausted one situation, I jump into analyzing the next possible situation. On and on I’d go.

I’ve only recently been able to quiet down my beehive brain a bit thanks to a few realizations I came to about the damage it was doing to me:

- Even after analyzing 100 different possibilities, reality would often be much different than the scenarios I thought about.

- When the situation didn’t play out exactly as I’d imagined, I’d still react instantly without thinking through the new variances. In my foolishness, the unexpected scenario seemed close enough to the ones I had already thought about, so I’d respond off the cuff.

In reality, things were different enough that a pause to think would’ve been better.

- Thinking through 100 different scenarios also meant going through the emotional baggage that came with them. In my mind, sometimes people reacted positively and sometimes negatively.

Imagining all the negative ways someone could react would lead me to attributing negative feelings to them, even though they haven’t responded negatively.

On the flip side, if I attributed a specific positive outcome to someone that didn’t live up to my exact interpretation, I’d end up feeling disappointed with an outcome I should’ve been happy with.

- Lastly, I’d push to resolve a situation immediately because I didn’t want to go through another beehive of scenarios while waiting to continue the conversation another time.

Sometimes that push to resolve the conflict resulted in a positive breakthrough. However, other times the person would agree to a certain resolution due to sheer exhaustion which leave us with an unsustainable outcome.

Of course, there were other things that helped calm my brain down. Things that helped me take a step towards these realizations and act on them.

Hopefully, my comment can be one of those steps for someone else.


This resonates with me a lot. I can be quite genial in social settings, but it's extremely taxing to my psyche because I unwillingly rehearse and predict all possible outcomes and how would I react. I catch myself having had a mental back-and-forth between myself and the person I have to meet, and if it's to be a particularly unpleasant occasion, I will have a heated argument all in my head that leaves me upset for hours.

Yeah, that's not very healthy.


> I will have a heated argument all in my head that leaves me upset for hours.

The conversation is imaginary but the emotions are real.

I used to think my ability to deep dive situations was a superpower but it’s really a curse.

Thankfully, I’m learning to shed the worst of it.

Hope you can too.


Excuse me, sir. Kindly get out of my head, thank you. :)


> Of course, there were other things that helped calm my brain down. Things that helped me take a step towards these realizations and act on them.

Please share. Great comment, BTW. Enlightening for someone like me who suffers from the same situation and hates himself for it.


Thanks, it means a lot to know my comment help others! I thought it was going to be buried and didn’t expect an upvote, much less getting replies that it was helpful.

It’s tough to share many of the other steps I’ve taken on a public forum. Honestly, I doubt they’d be as helpful as my previous comment because they’re so personal. Because they are so specific to me.

However, I can share that group therapy is the main resource I used to take those steps. I highly recommend it.

What’s nice about group is that I get to hear various perspectives on a situation. Everyone there has gone through somewhat similar struggles but their interpretations of those struggles are different.

As each person speaks, I find a nugget of wisdom that I can use. A bit of insight that I wouldn’t realize on my own. A phrase that finally helps a concept click in my head.

Of course 1-on-1 therapy is helpful too but group is a treasure trove of insight for personal growth.


That sounds similar to me. I was diagnosed unexpectedly at 38 and it changed my life. There is a good chance your internalised coping mechanisms are adding undue stress to your nervous system, making you tired and depressed, and ironically exacerbating the conditions for symptoms to become more disruptive (when you're tired, aren't eating properly, hyperfocusing too much and wearing yourself out, working late nights to catch up and not getting enough sleep, rinse, repeat, constant burnout).

If it's within your means to do so, I can't stress enough how much better it is knowing, for sure.


Same, except aged 28. I completely randomly happened to stumble upon a detailed description of inattentive ADHD, and had the thought, "Hmm, I wonder how doctors are able to differentiate between someone who has these symptoms and has ADHD, and someone like me who has these symptoms but doesn't have ADHD."

Then it hit me like a brick wall. Now I understand the phrase "it was like time stopped." Blinders came off and I felt like I re-evaluated every life experience I'd had in about 30 seconds. Two doctors appointments later I was hearing "Oh yes, you certainly have intense ADHD, the question is just how intense."

ADHD affects so many things as you mention. For me, getting treated has nearly entirely eliminated all forms of anxiety. For instance, I was a socially anxious mess in any sort of group setting; now I intentionally seek out conversations and enjoy telling stories. Some days I hardly recognize the old me. Strange feeling.

But yes, diagnosis + treatment highly recommended. Untreated ADHD increases your risk factors for so many things -- for instance, substance issues (NIH estimates fully 50% of people with substance issues have ADHD whether they know it or not).


What did your treatment look like?


I thought about getting diagnosed too, but to be frank, while I certainly wanna try those meds, I don't wanna take them for the rest of my life, let alone pay for them on a regular basis.


Yeah. Also, some countries still treat anyone with any kind of official mental "unusualness" as needing to be thrown in a looney bin. :(

Additionally, it's an unknown how long the current acceptance of ADHD (etc) will last in modern / western countries. We could just be going through a limited-time golden period.


> I don't wanna take them for the rest of my life

That's not the biggest worry. The largest psychological hurdle is seeing how much better your brain is with an illegal medication, and accepting the very uncomfortable truth that a pill that's often maligned, misunderstood, abused, and controlled is the difference between a fulfilling life and a slow spiral into the Abyss. Your fortune is not completely in your control.

As someone that has relied on himself all of his life, this idea still is very hard to live with.


I'm of two minds on this. Having taken them before and quitting, I know that you definitely can. But also once you see the kind of person you can be with medication, the really low unmedicated days feel extra hard compared to the effortlessness of the best medicated days.


I took them for a few months and then stopped. It felt restorative.


There's so many different meds though... with different effects. And for some people it takes time to figure out which one works best.


I tried just one medicine at different dose levels for a few months and then stopped. Never figured out a long-term solution because I didn't take it long-term.


It is interesting you say this. While I have never been diagnosed ADHD I have been diagnosed with anxiety and was on SSRIs for about a year, which did help tremendously, but there were side effects and ultimately I decided I was in a place I could manage without the medication and so far have.

I am interested in if you could elaborate on how ADHD medication helps you with anxiety.


God I hope I can get my diagnosis soon. You describe me to a T right now and I'm 27.


I've mentioned this before but there are serious warnings against getting tested in Sweden.

I was told that it can affect my health insurance, my mortgage and that I can't hold certain licenses (Pilot, HGV).

There are some direct consequences to being diagnosed and some indirect ones; and they warn that once the process of getting diagnosed starts; it cannot be stopped.

So, of course, I didn't seek a diagnosis- despite having many ADHD markers.


Another Swede here. I have never heard any of this before. Who told you this? I mean.. health insurance? You mean if you have supplemental private insurance? Mortgage? I have a mortgage and they have no access to any kind of health information and I would be very surprised if any bank would request it from me.


The information I got was from a company called Modigo but it was already discussed with my private psychologist; So Modigo just clarified what I had been told and had understood in writing.

Regarding the mortgage thing, I had the same feeling as you, but how it works is that mortgages are cheaper if you buy them with private insurance (income protection, life insurance).

For example: Nordea (a bank) and “If” (an insurance company) have a close partnership offering discounts for each others services when buying an apartment or house. Based on the information If gives backs to Nordea there can be greater discounts on mortgages; this worked in my favour previously and I got a 1.34% mortgage when the list price for 3y fixed was 2.1%.

It could be expanded further to say that if “If” considers me too high risk from various factors regarding my health that they would not even offer me health insurance at all, then the bank could use as justification itself that I am high risk and not extend a loan offer.


This sounds like it should be illegal imo. I’m not Swedish but your country strikes me as one where there are lots of protections for all kinds of people. Your (mental) health status really shouldn’t have an impact on whether or not you can get a mortgage, you cannot change anything about that. To me it sounds just as bad as profiling based on race or gender.


It's common for gender to be a factor in insurance. It's starting to become illegal, but it's a fairly recent thing. Most states allow it, California banned it in 2019.


Interesting, thanks for clarifying.


(HGV = Heavy Goods Vehicle)

The pilot thing is the same in AU too.


Did you become medicated?

I was diagnosed but also have High Blood Pressure (HBP), genetics, and most of the meds we tested cause an uncomfortable rise in pressure that just wasn't worth it.

My coping mechanisms are what I have left I suppose.


As documented by Scott Codex[0], there is a medication that may address these issues, but you may have trouble getting it prescribed.

[0]: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/know-your-amphetamines


In Switzerland you can get dextroamphetamine made by a pharma chain from here. Other than ritalin and Adderal that are also commonly available, it's not only much cheaper (no brand licenses), but also way more effective with less side effects.

Pretty sure it doesn't help with blood pressure, but especially the way to common Ritalin comes with weird side effects that most people likely won't enjoy.


Thanks so much for this link. Super helpful. Went through them and found commenters who had hbp. guanfacine was a recommendation to try. I'll see if I can get a hold of some... not sure.


I did, my Blood Pressure is not great either but luckily, not enough to prevent taking anything, but enough to be careful. I'm in ok shape, not the best I've ever been in, but not terrible. I just take something to help reduce my heart rate at night.

Unfortunately stimulants don't have much of an affect on me so I take quite a high dose at the moment. I'm doing all the suggested things to help them along, like increasing protein, getting more Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin D etc, staying away from citrus. Ensuring good sleep hygiene.

I see a psychologist regularly to unpick the weight of all the masking and coping mechanisms. It's a long process, but making much more progress than when I thought it was just depression and perfectionism issues.

I'm starting Neurofeedback to see if that helps and planning to use an ADHD specific performance coach in the new year to help with work.


You might discuss an SSRI with your docs if you don't already take one. They can help with the depression, and seem to promote neurogenesis which can help the re-wiring process. Of course they can have side effects.

I've been curious about neurofeedback too. You mean the ones that record physiological responses right? Theres also brain stimulation devices which seem intriguing https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20190422/fda-permits-...


Warning: SSRIs are highly habit forming despite not being scheduled as narcotics. They cause intense physical dependence. In my opinion, the juice is not worth the squeeze.


Question: what's the issue with citrus in this regard? Does it make long-acting medications not work as intended? My doctor never mentioned anything about citrus so I'm curious. thanks


Citrus (grapefruit is probably the worst offender) inhibits your body's absorption of some medications, so taking both in conjunction can become toxic over time.


What's your health like? Meaning, age, gender, weight, height and fitness level (aka are you fat and unhealthy or fit and train 3x+ weekly)?


fwiw, i got diagnosed earlier this year and have a background of high blood pressure. the doc prescribed me clonidine alongside my stimulant which has kept my blood pressure around normal levels.


What's the benefit in knowing for sure?


Besides stimulants there are a lot of effective interventions for ADHD. There is good literature behind balance exercises, vigorous cardio exercise, sleep adjustment, ADHD specific therapy, and coaching. Once you're diagnosed, you have access to meds and a directive from your doctor to get therapy. Don't take the common advice and seek Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT doesn't work very well for ADHD, we tend to try to outsmart the process.

Mostly the benefit is understanding yourself and allowing a measure of grace for your challenges. It helps you calibrate your goals, and be self aware when making decisions that you may be suffering an executive function deficit, and to seek known good supports for managing impulse control challenges.

There was a time when I started taking stimulant meds, but still felt the need to finish off-topic ideas to completion. It took a lot of learning to understand that my instincts need scrutiny, and that I don't have to beat myself up for not being able to do impossible things on a regular basis.

I like myself better. I get more of the important stuff done. I can even relax from time to time. I also accept that I will always have some unique struggles and special abilities.


Interesting regarding CBT, matches my experiences. I'd also add that the CBT classes, to a guy like me, is SO FREAKING BORING. This is really hard to beat if you have poorly controlled ADHD.

CBT strategies are probably good for everyone to familiarize themselves with. You can probably use things like grounding at the very least. I found it useful. Some relaxation techniques could be valuable.

Stimulant access is becoming a massive issue these days. I think we need legislation that grants it as a right to people with ADHD or narcolepsy. I think there's even a case for legalization.

Relationships with psychs can be complicated, and the medical industry is not very kind to ADHD. eg. you can get fired by your psych and be abandoned with medication, basically for having ADHD.

People with ADHD are perceived to have behavioral problems. Those same problems can be used as an excuse not to treat you.


> It took a lot of learning to understand that my instincts need scrutiny

I think this is may main takeaway from this thread.


For me it allowed to stop blaming myself for the ADHD symptoms. I'm not lazy, I'm not failing. You can't imagine how much pressure that took off, and how much better I am doing as a consequence.


Access to medication, which is reported to work well in conjunction with targeted therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

For more info see the book "Taking Charge of Adult ADHD" by Russel Barkley https://www.amazon.com/dp/1462546854 and the DIVA-5 test that many physicians use as part of the diagnosis process https://www.divacenter.eu (costs 10 EUR to download the PDF).


Acknowledging the problem (regardless of what one calls it) allows one to seek out solutions. If the problem has a name e.g., ADHD, one might notice a HN post about brown noise for ADHD treatment, open it and find a possible drug-free remedy that's possibly effective for them.


There is a lot of overlap in symptoms with other conditions. OCD, Autism, MDD etc. Knowing exactly what the underlying issue is gives you the best way forward in treating effectively.


Is there even a precise "underlying issue"? Isn't it just one horrible blob of dysfunction?


https://www.researchgate.net/publication/363858039_Identific...

There is strong clustering for sure, but also good and recent evidence that ASD, ADHD, and ASD + ADHD (the community has adopted the term Audhd) are distinct at a genetic level. Those and related comorbidities are tied to dopamine transport, and thought to be strongly impacted by endocrine disruption. Brain scans reveal most differences in the basil ganglia and cerebellum, and then downstream dysfunction in the frontal lobe with executive function and sensory processing issues.


Extensive testing can yield pretty specific and accurate results. You won't get that from an hour one session but my testing took ~ 15 hours total. Expensive but worth it for me.


you got it!


I certainly do!


For me, lots of things I used to struggle with suddenly made sense and now I have strategies for coping with them that actually work. Whereas previously I would try various strategies and end up hating myself when they didn't work.

I used to drink far too much - that was a way for me to quiet the noise in my head - and now I'm aware (and have meds), I can drink sensibly.

I used to be late for everything - this is because I hate waiting and would rather have been late than have to kill ten minutes doing nothing. Now I know, I give myself things to do before the meeting (or whatever) starts.

I used to have a long-running internal conflict between my need to plan and control everything and my desire to "go with the flow" and take things as they come. Now I understand there are some things that I need to keep tight control over and all the rest I can just let it happen.

It's possible I would have come across these strategies without the diagnosis, but I'm in my late 40s and was only diagnosed last year. I had been failing with all the strategies I had tried and it was resulting in me hating myself and feeling inadequate that I was unable to cope with things everyone else seemed to find easy. But now I know the cause, I know where my boundaries are and what I can and can't "fix".

(As for blood pressure - mine was borderline high but it actually fell once I started taking the meds - I assume this is because I was actually more relaxed and able to cope with life).


Legal tweaking?


It is only because of shit opinions like this that the stimulant medications (which many ADHD sufferers are prescribed) are still so difficult to get. Draconian laws based on racist and classist ideals by non-medical professionals created 50 years ago make these life-changing medications difficult to use uninterrupted due to the excessive amount of regulation surrounding just getting them filled at a pharmacy. These are not street drugs nor are they used recreationally, rather they are prescribed under the strict supervision of a qualified medical professional and that should be the end of any discussion.


I'm so angry. Cut off from STIMs, maybe for life, and the psych basically just told me to give up my career.

Adderall is not a very good recreational stimulant.


Why did they cut you off?


Stimulant meds difficult to get? Racist? Classist? This must be parody.


It is very difficult in many parts of the US to get a prescription. If one is a high-functioning child of professionals, much less so. Someone who is rather dysfunctional as an adult can find it very difficult, when they are precisely the group that can benefit most.

The tendency for poor undiagnosed people to attempt to self-medicate just to feel okay is considered a factor that places them at-risk to abuse the medication in the minds of many, when medicating the ADHD would be extremely helpful to reduce self-medication in many situations.

Adult non-professionals and "losers" who have managed to get diagnosed, a huge hurdle in and of itself, often face an uphill battle to get a prescription, much of which is unnecessary and based in classism and racism.


Nope, I'm in Alabama, where I cannot get more than 30 days supply at a time, and must meet monthly with a psychiatrist in an area where almost no doctors are taking new patients, and even once you're an existing patient, appointments can be impossible to get. It can take me weeks just to get a call back from my doctor's office. Supply is regularly interrupted, and it can take weeks to get a prescription refilled.


I'm so fed up of typing long, well reasoned, balanced replies to this attitude. I'm angry at this point.

My friend, we/they have a physical neurological defect that is helped by medication. We are not high.

Like someone who is short sighted benefits from glasses.


Diagnosed at 32.

I knew beforehand even (guessed at least), but I put off doing anything about it. I didn't realize how much it was affecting me. And how many unhealthy coping mechanisms I had built up in my life.


I was diagnosed at 29.

FWIW, this is exactly what it's like for me too - "Not enough stimulation and I get distracted easily, too much stimulation and I shut down completely."


This is also how I fall asleep. I need to find the right podcast; not too boring but not too exciting either.


I listen to space videos, stuff like Astrum.

Usually fits that niche cause I'm interested but I can live without knowing how many moons does Jupiter have

And with stuff like audiobooks you can't doze off because you loose track, but with this you'd just missed 1 of the 10 things he was talking about


Oh shit... This whole thread is making me nervous, but this comment is straight up scary...


Interesting - have you ever music without vocals such as lofi?

Here's a couple of live streams I regularly listen to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4sJkuOPUP8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfKfPfyJRdk

And here's a channel that as well as sometimes having a livestream regularly uploads ~1 mixes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCKbkDggYQ0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GWyf-35QHI&t=2s


I recently stumbled upon this one, could be a whole genre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcqFKzzYc44


You might like Nils Frahm.


I was diagnosed at 22, ironically after I graduated from college after struggling to study effectively and fortunately by complete willpower and energy drinks managed to have decent grades.

Get a recommendation for a neuropsych and get a diagnosis. People here love to objectify and hate on anyone using stimulants. A 5mg dose of stimulants daily has quite literally changed my life. You don't have to live wondering what you could've been cognitively capable of.


Agree, the real wake up for me was when I wasn't just able to focus at work, but felt calm on my drive home, didn't feel anxious while sitting and talking over dinner, etc.. My initial goal was to leverage the racy, focused energy of stimulants to get work done, but I ended up most enjoying feeling calm and present hours after that part has faded.


I've been diagnosed with ADHD and I have the exact same coping mechanism. Another I have is to use Pomodoro timers and todo lists religiously. What other coping mechanisms do you have?


Similar. I put every appointment or meeting in my calendar immediately, take as many notes as I can, and keep to do lists by due date. For me a lot of it is just offloading things to my phone / computer because I know I will forget. If something isn't in my calendar it might as well not be happening. Doesn't matter what it is.


> If something isn't in my calendar it might as well not be happening. Doesn't matter what it is.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Similarly, drawers and cabinets remove things from existence. Only a wall of open shelving will do. Is this ADHD, or something else ?


I am the exact same way, both with calendars/notes and shelves. Weird!


Avoid Ikea. Get the kinds of all-metal shelving that goes together with nuts & bolts.

Then the only remaining challenge is to convince the wife to put them up in front of every wall.


Have you tried ambient music? If not, check out Brian Eno’s “Music for airports”.


I can also recommend William Basinski's The Disintegration Loops.

https://williambasinski.bandcamp.com/album/the-disintegratio...

The combination of noise, repetition, and minimal melody really helps me focus.


lofi hip hop seems to work pretty well, but there usually are three stages:

- I don't get into the groove despite the music

- Something clicks and I get into the groove

- I'm so deeply in the groove that even lofi hip hop bothers me, so I turn it off and go ham

Also I find it funny that lofi hip hop has an alternate title of "beats to relax/study to"--I used to listen to it while studying in college, but now I use it for working on personal projects or at work.


The Jazz Vibes playlist on Spotify does it for me.

Really anything without lyrics. Talking has a way of hijacking the attention centers in my brain.


If I know the lyrics super well and it's something kind of sad, it works for me.


Lofi-girl helps me too, it's completely out of my traditional musical tastes but there's something in it that makes me start working. I also have to turn it off eventually though, I find I need to revert to silence after a while for some reason. And if I notice a beat or tune I've heard before, it can rip me out of concentration.


The sudden need for silence after needing the audio is such a distinct mood. Interesting that it hits other people.

I feel like it’s related to once I hit the point where I’m really into what I’m working on.


Yes it's hard to say. Sometimes it's when I feel like it's a natural time for a break, but also maybe whatever it is (that the audio tickles in my brain) becomes fatigued or used up.

Either way the silence gives a great feeling of relief. I sleep with a noise generator in my room and can't really do without it (tiny noises fill me with adrenaline at night) but when I wake up and turn it off my body loves me for returning the silence.


Sometimes I find ambient music to be too dull, but I find music with lyrics too distracting.

But if I listen to music with lyrics in language which I don't speak, then I don't get distracted.

Spanish mambo works well for me. Also I've recently listened to some operas.

Classical music is good and bad. A lot of classical has instruments that I don't like, and some of the music is too erratic for focus.


I use video game soundtracks. They tend to be designed to hit that sweet spot of easy to tune out but engaging enough to placate a distracted brain. A few I can recommend:

    Samarost 3
    Hundered Days
    Far Lone Sails
    Far Changing Tides
    Obduction and Myst series
    The Red Strings Club
    Conspiravision (which is a remake of Deus Ex OST)
    Hyper Light Drifter


Video games and certain movie composers. Ramin Djawadi, Bear McCreary, and Howard Zimmer are on almost constant repeat for me.


I really like 'Groove Salad' from SomaFM for when I need to focus, it helps get me into a better flow state than anything else I've tried. However, there are times when I know I need to turn it on but don't/can't which is less helpful!


The Bloom app by Brain Eno and Peter Chilvers has been a life life for me throughout the years.

Music for Airports, with even less repetition.

https://www.generativemusic.com/bloom.html


I fully understand. I do much of the same. Work from home. Keep the fan on at all times for the noise. Have one monitor playing content-less videos on a loop. For me personally, train cab ride videos and asmr massage do the trick. There's nothing to follow. The content is relaxing. It does the trick. I used to follow a couple of Buddhist podcasts where the speaker is calm & measured. Never paid much attention to the content, but the voices helped immensely.

Anyways, thanks for sharing. It's a little good to know I'm not unique in these tactics.


Music works for me if: a) it's without words, and b) I know inside out. For a long time it was Beethoven's fifth symphony :)

Music also works for me by triggering an emotional state that helps me focus.


I work in an open-plan office and headphones with brown-noise or the right-type of music is absolutely essential. The thing is, you can only do that for so long. At some point you get tired of the headphones.

I feel like I might "snap" one of these days and start telling people to STFU. The noise is dominated by a couple of people who, for whatever reason, can't seem to modulate their volume. Perhaps there's a name for that disorder as well?

In the meantime, my workplace has "focus rooms" which I use a few times a week. Since there's a box of tissues in there, I refer to them as crying rooms :-).


How do you feel afterwards? Let's say after a hard working session with music on. Because I just like you, use music for concentration and I can pull some long hours, but afterwards I have difficulties calming down. Maybe it's because I am tired, but I have some suspicion that the dopamine hit from music might be the culprit.


Good question. I think my ears usually get physically tired before I get to that point... However, on the downsides, it can turn into an earworm in the evening. Or the rest of the day can feel depressingly bland compared to the emotional elation that got me through the work session.


Synthwave/retrowave works great for me.


I also use Beethoven's 5th symphony when I really want to get something done. I also like the 9th as well as Mozart's requiem.


Yes. Classical music and calm electronic music helps.

But my favorites, metal and reggeaton just distracts me too much because of the lyrics.


My go-to is Futurama episodes...

Didn't realise this was a common coping mechanism till I asked around and both my brothers do it (Adult ADHD diagnosis) and one friend (Also diagnosed).


I found Audible books are great for me. Put in earbuds and do chores, or program, etc.


> It is ideally something I already know.

Yes. I've listened to some albums 100s of times and they are so familiar they aren't distracting but actually help me focus.

If I listen to something interesting and new it's harder to focus. If I listen to primarily speech (Howard Stern, podcast, etc.) forget it.


For me it's the Twin Peaks soundtrack


There are 7 distinct types of ADHD according to recent brain scan research. you have what I have which is type two with internal HD not external HD.

I did find that Rhodiola, Green Tea extract, Raw Cacao, and low dose of L-DOPA, and Lions mane does make an impact in helping me handle it as now I notice I am starting to get to the point of mind-seeing code which is a first with me in that I have 4+decades of my ADHD being uncontrolled(mind seeing code happens at about the 6 month point after you get the right med doses settled)


Fascinating - do you have some recommended sources where I can find out more about the 7 types of ADHD & dietary recommendations?


What do you mean by "mind seeing code"?


Similar here.

What's working for me is listening to the same lofi channel, which helps me focus without being disturbed by the music because it's, hmm, generically bland. Like some brain filling. But still enjoyable. (a bit harsh definition for a genre I like)

I become too emotionally invested when I listen to any other kind of music.

So lofi for work!


I've been diagnosed 3 years ago and I used to use the exact same coping mechanism as you do. I'd watch a show I've seen before while working on things. Music also worked for me to a lesser degrees but only if there's no vocals.

Getting diagnosed was one of the best thing I could have done. Knowing for sure, being able to use medication (although I limit very strictly how much I use) has been super helpful. I got tested privately, without involving health insurance. I didn't want it to be on any public records.


I feel the same way, but still wanted music in the background. This channel was a great balance since I can't understand the lyrics, but the tunes are catchy enough to hum to sometimes. https://www.youtube.com/@MyAnalogJournal


Interesting.

I had the same experience as a kid, but I didn't try the noise thing yet.

Mostly, because music leads to very emotional responses.

But, maybe I should try other "sounds". My mind keeps wandering all the time and it's quite stressful.


Your experience matches mine and I do the same thing with shows and movies.


I'm exactly the same.


this is me 100%.


I have ADHD and I straight-up don't do silence. Between restless brain and tinnitus, actual silence, or anything with a noise floor below ~15dB, just doesn't sit right with me. 20-30dB is about ideal. Especially when trying to sleep. I have some sort of fan/filter in just about every room. When I'm working, I'm almost always listening to music (unless I'm way over stimulated).

It probably started when I was much younger with much worse asthma and always had a HEPA filter running in the background. Eventually this turned into basically always having some kind of fan in my primary locations. Right now I dig the Coway air filters on low or medium.

Even beyond the alleged "noise floor dopamine boost", I find some kind of background whoosh really nice for masking otherwise variable sounds, such as cars, airplanes, and the wind, which are far more distracting.

10/10 would recommend running some sort of air filter all the time. Plus, cleaner air (air pollution has all kinds of bad effects).


> I have ADHD and I straight-up don't do silence.

> It probably started when I was much younger with much worse asthma and always had a HEPA filter running in the background. Eventually this turned into basically always having some kind of fan in my primary locations.

Same exact experience.


For tinnitus, try massaging the back of your head/neck. Tightness there can be the cause in some people.

Reddit posted a similar trick a few years ago, but in my experience, massage seems to be just as good, so if you haven't tried it, do so and you might get some relief from that.


If massage does work, consider getting a Theragun percussion massage tool. That thing has done wonders for my old age pains.


I'll second this. I keep one at my desk now.

Between switching to a standing desk and the Theragun, my hips/back/neck are in much better shape than they were a few years ago.


It could also be high cranial pressure.


Silence is horrible for me. Best is paid programming. Someone that keeps me on task.

At home best I’ve found is ear plugs with music in background.

Or I can take my medicine and the horrific pain of boredom goes away. I just get a few days of severe nerve pain throughout body.


Do you mean in ear headphones with music or actual ear plugs with music on a stereo?

I don’t know why but I feel a million times better with ear plugs in. I had these etymotic ear plugs that were more like sound filters for years before I lost them, and I loved them so much. I’d wear them with headphones over top while working for this oddly silent and muffled sound experience.

I didn’t replace the etymotics because my wife was too embarrassed to be around me having these things in. But at a restaurant or other loud places they were an absolute saviour.

I use AirPods in a similar way, but it’s not as nice. Sometimes I actually just want plain old ear plugs. Even so, the AirPods are a lot better than nothing at all. I use them with no sound perhaps more often than I do with sound.


Once I lived in the worst place noise wise. The street was transited at night, there were many dogs barking in the neighborhood, and people came in and out of the nearby rooms.

After one month, I managed to sleep by wearing something like these: http://static.grainger.com/rp/s/is/image/Grainger/2FLL3_AS01...

and over that, thick headphones playing a recording of popcorn in a microwave.

I managed to stay 4 months there.


Haha, that sounds awful. I hope you’re somewhere peaceful now.

I do find those work (and I keep a pair in my toiletry bag which I take just about everywhere), but if I leave them in for prolonged periods I find my ears start to hurt. Almost like I could be developing some kind of inner ear skin irritation.


Actual ear plugs. Dampens eveything. Eliminates most distractions. Music in background becomes more soothing.


Loop earplugs[1] are made for this. I have the “Experience” model and love them dearly. I can pop them in instantly, and they attenuate without much muffling, so I can still interact with people.

1. https://us.loopearplugs.com/collections/all


I too love having AirPods in!

Do you clean your earplugs daily? I discovered I had to after a minor ear infection. Wet wipes alone didn’t cut it. Needs wet wipes + hand sanitizer. Don’t forget the case too.

I also made the mistake of putting the AirPods on too quickly after a shower. I was like 90% dry but inpatient. That too can trigger ear infections.


Not directly related to your post but tinnitus + Airpods.

I have tinnitus. And after starting to use Airpod Pros, I feel the tinnitus has become *much* worse. And I basically don't have any music on. And if I do, at very low levers. I basically just use the transparent mode, or silence mode.

Am I the only one experience this? I'm sort of hestistant to use Airpods to not risk getting permanent worse tinnitus. At the same time, they are very practical. And the dampening of noise makes work and concentration easier.


>just get a few days of severe nerve pain throughout body.

What is this? I get the same experience and my docs haven’t given any explanation after multiple times bringing it to their attention.


Neuropathy. Lots of damage to my nerves. Makes me hyper sensitive to many medications.

Heavy vitamin regiment has reduced issues. LDN, and getting a previously undiagnosed autoimmune condition under control has given me some tolerance.

I still avoid Medication as best I can. But Family likes having a house.


Welbutrin? That sounds a lot like a common side effect of that drug.


Adderal, vyvanse, concerta. And Xarelto (blood thinner) all cause burning pain


Yup, Adderal. When I take it the two sides of my brain stop fighting each other and I'm able to be what I think is normal. But then i get nerve pain (which I've had, mildly, in general due to two surgeries when I was a kid.)


« Between restless brain and tinnitus, actual silence, or anything with a noise floor below ~15dB, just doesn't sit right with me.»

As someone with both (and particularly bad tinnitus) I look forward to my new air filters/fans.


Any slight sudden noise also tends to wake me up, last year I bought some Bose Sleepbuds 2 and they have been fantastic, they play a range of sounds such as white noise while your sleep and it really blocks out everything else.

I've used them to sleep like a baby in a tent at a music festival when all my campmates woke up tired and complaining from lack of sleep.

When working I use Endel / Brain.fm.


Ditto and a plug for https://austinair.com/ I run it in my office on low during the day and sleep with it at night. Its a sizable investment but WOW its been worth it. I'm on year 12 and its still going strong.


Many people use sound machines to drown out background noise so it doesn’t wake you up.

You can however train yourself on to a sound machine or off of one. Some people can’t fall asleep unless the tv is on or the radio or a podcast… same principle. But it really only makes sense if you environment is quiet in general.


I think it's consistent sound/noise that matters. My Dad worked on a ship and he said when he was trying to sleep the worst sounds were intermittent. He preferred a constant sound no matter what it was.


I think this is it. The change is what does it. Intermittent noise is constant change.

Loud music in the next room never stopped me from sleeping as a kid. I'd wake up when the music turned off, though.


Yeah, in other news many environments are badly engineered, badly outfitted, and their inhabitants are content to let their artificially occupied mind anguish with squealing refrigerators, air conditioners, notifications, sleep issues, illumination issues, blood sugar spikes and trenches, social uncertainty and misplaced conscientiousness, and so on without attributing their focus issues to anything more specific than "something wrong" or, in medical terms, "disordered."


When you're stigmatizing mental health, avoid writing it as a single run-on sentence that's 63 words long. The point loses its punch.


In what sense are any of those elements of distraction or the claim about vagueness "stigmatizing mental health"?


It's possible my interpretation was wrong. I took it as you saying that lots of people live in distracting environments without saying that they have a specific problem (such as ADHD). It seemed like hinting that those things problems aren't real or it's unnecessary/bad to get a diagnosis.


Are ocean waves to you calming or distracting?


is asthma correlated with ADHD ?


For me there was an unknown psychological dependency on my inhaler due to anxiety.

The paranoia of needing the inhaler due to allergies/whatever would itself trigger a panic attack.

Since my ADHD diagnosis (aged 38!) I can happily leave the house without the inhaler without fear of needing it - but only when I'm on stimulant meds.

The ADHD diagnosis has brought to light several things which I never knew would be connected.

The meds are life changing in many ways more than just help with concentration.


I use this too. You should know the iPhone has this as a accessibility feature.

Go to Accessibility -> Audio/Visual -> Background Sounds -> Sound -> Dark Noise

After that go to Accessibility -> Accessibility Shortcut -> Background Sound and you'll be able to activate the noise with a tripple side button click


This is awesome, wish there was a way to turn it on and off from Control Center without having to set it to triple-click side button (would prefer to avoid accidental activation from the button but still have easier access to this feature)


Add the "Hearing" control to Control Center.


On my iPad I’m able to access it via Control Center [1] so you can probably also get it working for the iPhone I just haven’t bothered

[1] https://imgur.com/a/FhzjJmH


There is a way to set up a simple Home Screen toggle shortcut via iOS Shortcuts app.


this is amazing, thank you so much.

I have been using a 90-minute Brown Noise loop on Spotify, but even though it is downloaded on my phone, I have to connect to the internet to start using it, which can lead to distractions when messages start pouring in.


Why don't you just download music? like an mp3? and put it on your phone? you can easily rip tracks off any source (youtube), I never understood why or how spotify became the choice


macOS Ventura has this feature as well. Under Accessibility -> Audio -> Background noise


Anyone know if there anything similar for Android?


oh wow, virtual toast to you my friend - this would've come in handy many times had I known about it


This also helps cover up constant early morning construction and traffic.

If I can help it I just use: play -n synth brown on any linux system with sox installed... it's definitely the cleanest sound I've found.

Problem with most phone programs is that despite brown noise being comically easy to generate live, they record a clip and then loop it so there's weird artifacts.

I honestly don't know why I don't have the ability to run such a trivial command for an open source system on my phone. If I paid for a phone app to make noise it'd be inferior for money. I don't know why it's not at least equal for money.


Really cool command, although for some reason I find the brown noise it generates to sound harsher than the one from this website[1] for example.

The command I'm using is `play -c 5 -n synth brown vol -20dB`.

[1] https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/whiteNoiseGenerator.php


I tried this but the sound is too… white? Is there a way of making it deeper? I’m not familiar with Sox at all.

EDIT: actually in that short time I got what I needed: play -n -n --combine merge synth brownnoise band -n 550 550

Put it in a .command file, renamed it as .app, dragged it to the dock, renamed it .command, and now I can quickly trigger it from the dock at any time.

Thanks a lot!


I'm having the same problem. I found this command on a random site[1] which improves it a bit:

    play -n -n --combine merge synth '24:00:00' brownnoise band -n 750 750 tremolo 50 1
If possible I'd like to replicate the brown noise preset used on this[2] site.

If you come up with anything please let us know.

[1] https://www.cloudacm.com/?p=3145

[2] https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/whiteNoiseGenerator.php


I've settled on this over the years:

    play -c 2 --null synth brownnoise reverb bass 6 treble -3
It's close to the myNoise brown preset, IMO, if a little bass heavier.


Just tried this, as a longtime ambient electronic fan I totally understand what brought me there. Instant calm for my noisy mind using:

play -c 2 --null synth brownnoise reverb bass 10 treble -6

Diagnosed around 40, concerta helps with focus but does not provide a calming effect.

Thanks for this eye opener!

`Brew install sox` for those wondering how to get this working on macos.


I love all of your variations, thank you so much for this! I combined them into this one, which I really like, but I think I will play around a bit more :)

`play -n -n --combine merge synth brownnoise band -n 550 550 tremolo 50 1 vol -17dB reverb bass 10 treble -6`


That 2nd link in 'b'rown mode immediately makes me feel like I'm standing on the seashore on an overcast day... for some reason it brings memories of Disco Elysium. Exactly what I need today, thanks.


mynoise is the gold standard for generators, for me.


To me, these sounds produce fatigue. When I used to travel frequently by air, I had a habit of wearing noise-cancelling headphones just to try to suppress the background, whether or not I actually played any other media over it. I didn't really like the leftover hiss, but cutting the deeper sounds seemed to reduce my fatigue anyway.

So, I am wondering how brown noise fans find the noises of travel. The different synthesizers posted in this thread overlap a lot with highway and airliner environments for me. Different vehicles had different equalization, of course.

Another sound this reminds me of is the old background rumble they put in the Star Trek Next Generation TV show to represent their shipboard environments.


Investigated the characteristics of that page's brown noise preset: https://files.catbox.moe/ptql0b.png

Despite the sliders being a straight line, it's not really brown noise, as the slope starts going down again below 550Hz. (Which is a good thing in terms of being nice to listen to: this sounds more natural, and pure brown noise has too much bass to use with headphones.)

I was able to get pretty close (80% ?) in Audacity with Generate > Noise > Brownian Noise,

followed by Effect > High-Pass Filter > 550Hz (12dB roll-off).


I use a surprisingly complete shell on iPhone to synchronize git repo.

For some reason, that shell can go out of his own box, so he can write into obsidian files for instance.

The play command trigger the phone media player but there is a package manager and it’s akin to git-bash for instance. It ‘s provably a pain but it boils down to find the right binaries.

It’s called “a-shell”, there is others. I use this one for simple things but it can run cron for instance. It kinda changed how I use my old crappy iPhone. ( moving file around )


Thanks for the tip, this looks fantastic.


Is there anyway to create an http stream of your output?

I have a home automation on Hubitat to play a 10-hour brown noise file, hosted on a home Ubuntu server, created in Audition to play for night time on a Sonos speaker.

Would love to get rid of the file and just get a live generated output.


Honestly your solution is probably already the simplest unless you're short for disk space. Maybe someone knows a way to make Ubuntu create a special file that contains a buffer with brown noise, like one of those old tape to CD converters, so that the system sees a music file but it just keeps going. It sounds like a lot of work.

Using 'play -n synth brown' is easy if it's an option. I'd probably use a sound file if it were harder.


> It sounds like a lot of work.

  mkfifo brown.wav
  sox -n brown.wav synth brown

?


Check out mynoise.net (or the mynoise app- "White Noise and Co" generator on the brown noise preset)


You can probably pipe that to VLC Not sure it’s the most appropriate, and you might need a file for it to plug to anyway. Not that can be a stream


Slightly tangential but this reminds me of the short story "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut [1]:

> In the year 2081, the 211th, 212th, and 213th amendments to the Constitution dictate that all Americans are fully equal and not allowed to be smarter, better-looking, or more physically able than anyone else. The Handicapper General's agents enforce the equality laws, forcing citizens to wear "handicaps": masks for those who are too beautiful, loud radios that disrupt thoughts inside the ears of intelligent people, and heavy weights for the strong or athletic. [2]

[1] https://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_Bergeron


> Slightly tangential

That's a little more than slightly. I've got no clue what in the article brought that up for you or how you're relating it back.


Maybe the excerpt from the Wikipedia article I used was a bit too subtle, but the similarity is, in the story they are using random noise coming through earphones to suppress thoughts ("loud radios that disrupt thoughts inside the ears of intelligent people").


I think the background noise the old guy has to listen to (I can kind of see it relating to brown noise)


ADHD is a "disorder" that is predicated on "this person's behavior annoys people around him and therefore should be corrected."

ADHD is only a disorder because human pegs must be pounded into the square holes of class in a sterile schoolroom behind bars, during daylight hours for much of the year, in preparation for white-collar office jobs that many of them won't achieve, but nevertheless you must sit down, pay attention to lectures and study irrelevant things.

And if you can't pay attention, don't take away their computers, video games, or reduce their screen time, just pump them full of amphetamines until they're so drowsy during the day they're just struggling to fall asleep.

ADHD is very Harrison Bergeron, and the schizophrenic Vonnegut knew exactly what he was writing about.


> ADHD is a "disorder" that is predicated on "this person's behavior annoys people around him and therefore should be corrected."

This is just wrong. I have ADHD and it can prevent me from doing and completing tasks that I decide to do myself and which are entirely on my own schedule. The constraints and expectations of others certainly don't help, but even if I lived in a world where I never had to be anywhere at a specific time, never had to perform any task that didn't interest me, and always had total freedom over where/when/how I performed the activities I chose to participate in I would still suffer because of ADHD and I'd still require medication.

ADHD is not just some quirky march to the beat of a different drum thing that wouldn't be a problem if people were only more accepting of it. It'll always be a problem for me. Thankfully it's one that can be managed without being 'pumped full of amphetamines until I'm so drowsy during the day I'm just struggling to fall asleep'.

If I'm drowsy during the day its usually because I'm my symptoms get more severe late in the day and it can result in me getting caught up in something and staying up until long after I should have gone to bed. That's something I've noticed I can struggle with both on and off medication. It isn't too often it's a problem though.


I strongly disagree with this opinion, even though it is sadly common.

Go speak to an adult with ADHD, listen to them and find out the real pain and anguish experienced by someone with ADHD. Many people desperately want to do well in school, have a career and successful relationships but are held back by their disorder. Instead, they experience joblessness, poor human relationships and unfulfilled dreams. People with diagnoses in later life experience genuine grief. The medication and counseling can help a lot, but it can't fix a divorce 10 years ago or getting fired repeatedly. The damage is done.


I am halfway between agreeing with both of you.

There are many symptoms of ADHD that I consider severe impairments - especially the short term memory loss.

However there are symptoms of it that I prefer over my state of my mind while medicated. The freedom of direction of thought is much more pleasant than the drive to focus intensely on one task - but is simply at odds with the world around me driven by productivity.


That isn't an issue for me when I am medicated. When medicated I have the ability to choose whether to focus or not, unlike when I am not medicated and focus is elusive at best.


Different experiences I suppose. When medicated, focus is forced upon me. I have to be very diligent about setting alarms lest I end up working long past the time I have designated.


I actually appreciate being able to sometimes do paperwork around the time it's due instead of never and no longer regularly needing to break into my house.

If you'd like to propose societal reforms that greatly reduce the amount of paperwork required of adults or allow ICs to just say "hey I'll probably not get anything done like 70% of the time but the other 30% will be pretty good" then I'll support them, but they don't seem to be forthcoming.


You usually "pump yourself full of amphetamines" to be able to sleep, calm down and focus, not the other way around.


I don't have any sources other than anecdotal, but I'm under the impression many are diagnosed with ADHD as a result of behavior shown in school.

It's almost like, ADHD is the disease you have when you're "unable to do consistent & focused work". Obviously medically it's some dysfunction in dopamine regulation, but how many underpaid overworked teachers/parents have access to equipment that would actually measure that? Maybe some kids are gasp bored in school, or shudder don't mesh with the thought-system of menial productivity the school -> work pipeline tries to instill.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Js4NiTFq9Pw


Speaking as an adult diagnosee, whose diagnosis had nothing to do with the behavioral problems in the DSM other than finding a way to fit my actual symptoms to diagnostic criteria, with a caring and mindful intake doctor and then a psychiatrist…

I agree the diagnostics are unhelpful. I think takes like this are equally if not more unhelpful. I definitely struggled with boredom and didn’t mesh with the design of my educational programs… but I also struggled intensely with anxiety and depression, both very deeply rooted in my ADHD experience. I struggled with them for decades before I understood what my experience was and found helpful treatment. I may well have suffered a much less severe and much shorter time had I not had a parent who was just as dismissive of the actual disorder I experience.

Your take is the same as the diagnostics: attributing it to externally observed childhood behavior that doesn’t suit adults. Meanwhile adults with undiagnosed and untreated ADHD experience higher anxiety and depression, higher suicide rates, higher rates of substance abuse. We’re permanently in a state of trauma.

Instead of rescuing kids from symptoms assigned to them by adults, if you want to help kids with ADHD, help them have a voice about what they feel and need.


The idea that an ADHD diagnosis can be a band-aid over a deeper personal or societal problem isn't a very unhelpful one, considering that it can reveal, you know, deeper issues.

I'm not saying all ADHD diagnoses are false. My prescription will always be, do whatever helps you. If a kid says ADHD meds/accomodations help them with no problems, then I'm very supportive of continuing that. But if others have been on and quit the meds even before adulthood, and they still feel unable to focus/depressed/etc., maybe we should consider that the problem isn't in their body.


But also plenty of them could eeeeek actually have ADHD.


ADHD is relatively known, and the solutions for it are institutionalized. In the U.S. at least, people not meshing with society isn't a problem that's super well documented and no institutional solutions exist.


You think... "people not meshing with society" is a new thing you've just discovered? That needs more awareness?

Rather than like, that's approximately half of what mental healthcare is, and "people not meshing with society" is known by dozens of different specific technical names depending on the details of what "not" or "mesh" or "society" looks like in any given case?

This is embarrassing. One of the worst cases of HN "I just noticed something outside my field so it must be a novel insight!" I've ever seen.


> "people not meshing with society" is a new thing you've just discovered?

> Rather than like, that's approximately half of what mental healthcare is

> That needs more awareness?

So you're saying mental healthcare (in the U.S., mind!) doesn't need more awareness, got it


Ah, the classic "so you're saying" + (putting words into other's mouth) bad-faith argument...


That is their argument, aside from

> This is embarrassing.


No, they made a detailed argument and that was not it.

That was an uncharitable strawman.


If that's what you got from what I wrote I don't know what to tell you. Good luck out there.


Can you sleep in awareness? Can you eat awareness?


Forgo awareness; return to subconscious


That's the second D.

If it's not a powerful enough effect to disorder your life, or you've developed adequate coping mechanisms, the diagnosis isn't appropriate. You can have people with the same subjective experience, same "symptoms" and one can be considered to have adhd and the other not. If you change your life in such a way that the effects you have are no long disruptive to it, don't negatively affect you, it's not adhd anymore.

What is a disorder or not is determined by the environment, not the individual. The social model of disability applies just as much to mental as physical.


I agree, but ADHD has a purported biological mechanism that justifies its treatment. And ADHD meds aren't without effects


It's always worth mentioning https://mynoise.net/

Donate if you can, it's a great resource. No affiliation, just a happy user.


More specifically open https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/whiteNoiseGenerator.php and press ‘b’ for brown noise. Use j/k for volume.

I use this all the time, long before the article. White nose improves focus in everyone, not just ADHD folks.

This workflow is part of my standard work. If I have a document to read, a code review, or something that’s not mechanical coding (which I use music for), brown noise helps increase focus.


For some reason I find that hissy, even if I turn the slider up. I found for example this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqzGzwTY-6w

It feels smoother and more relaxing to me.


You can set the EQ to fit your ears and sound system https://mynoise.net/calibration.php

That might make it better for you.


I've been using this exact same smoothed brown noise track for a few years now. It's worked wonders for focus and concentration! Even turned down low it works well. White noise is too high pitched and hissy. Brown noise gets quieter the higher the pitch.


That's definitely a much nicer sound to my ears than the white-noise hiss.


They have an iOS app which has different things you can purchase. Also a good way to support them.


I like it. I find the UI a bit clumsy, but the configurability is great.


That’s super interesting! I’ve noticed that I really enjoy the background sounds iPhone has when mixed with music. Helps me focus on house chores like those in the article.

I wonder if this is the reason lofi music has taken off in a big way with the static in the background - (something we’re experimenting with at Double https://doubleapp.xyz)

Edit: also remembered about the Kia instrument that popped up - it’s based on making music with pink noise https://www.kia.com/us/en/movement/our-instrument


Funny that you mention pink noise. After reading the headline alone, I wondered if pink noise had been considered. I find sometimes brown noise works well, and sometimes pink noise works well, depending on mood. White noise is almost always too harsh for me.

I also use an app called Chroma Doze from F-Droid, which can generate different spectrum noise. My only gripe with it is there's no "presets", or no way to export/import presents.


Agreed - white noise is usually too piercing for me, but the lower levels seem to resonate well with me (apologies for the pun :) )

I'm going to check that app out - thanks for sharing!


You’re on to something! The idea behind Double addresses a problem I‘ve been struggling with for a long time. The question is how to get it to take off - it needs scale and reach, network effects to really work well I believe. Maybe piggy back on existing communities?


Thanks! And stoked to hear the idea of Double can address that problem for you.

Totally agreed on the network effects point - that’s why we made the Double Communities and are focusing on growing those!


wtf? the Kia thing is so left field from cars that I thought this was some other company using that name along with the car company, but I saw the logo and realized it's the same shit.

What's going on?


I think car makers often do "surprising" marketing campaigns -- more often than companies selling other products. I would guess it's because buying a car is a very big purchasing decision for most people. You can't really sell them on impulse, to people who aren't in the market.

So car makers may rely more on advertising that builds their brand, rather than convincing you to buy a specific product today.

Building a toy app that people actually want to play with is a great way to get your brand name and logo visible installed semi-permanently on people (and their devices).


Acoustic white noise ameliorates reduced regional brain expression of CaMKII and ΔFosB in the spontaneously hypertensive rat model of ADHD https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S245183011...

Early continuous white noise exposure alters l-α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid receptor subunit glutamate receptor 2 and γ-aminobutyric acid type a receptor subunit β3 protein expression in rat auditory cortex

White noise and ADHD https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C10&as_vi...

Noise Exposure Alters Glutamatergic and GABAergic Synaptic Connectivity in the Hippocampus and Its Relevance to Tinnitus https://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2021/8833087/

Gene Expression Identifies Distinct Ascending Glutamatergic Pathways to Frequency-Organized Auditory Cortex in the Rat Brain https://www.jneurosci.org/content/32/45/15759.short https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jnr.22232


This definitely works. I've been listening to brown noise and binaural beats for years now. The problem of course (and I swear this isn't a joke), I inevitably forget how well it works and stop. I'll have it in the background for a week or so while working or going to sleep, but then for some reason I skip a few days and then forget all about it. Then months later I'll notice that I have links in my Spotify and YouTube favorites to noise loops and remember how well it works and the cycle begins again. (You can extrapolate this to every aspect of my life to have a glimpse into what living with ADHD can be like.)


Buy a hardware device, put it on your desk. There’s less chance you will not notice it for months on end.


I went to college late in life. We had Python programming class which I liked but I couldn't concentrate in a class with people talking even in low tones, key clacking, phones beeping. Exams were the worst but I got permission to use headphones. At first I tried white noise then pink noise but brown noise is what I found the best. I needed maximum concentration and the entire hour to finish the coding exam. To my knowledge I don't have ADHD but I wouldn't doubt I have it in some form.


Music works for me, as long as it has no complex lyrics and I don't spent too much time searching for the perfect music to listen for the task at hand.


My coding juice is psytrance music. If my brain is a CPU, psy is a GHz clock, and it's technical and intricate enough to keep me stimulated but not distracted.

I am a fan of Infected Mushroom, Talpa, Grouch and the 296h "Psytrance Collection - Full-On, Offbeat & Progressive" playlist on Spotify.

But for me music is only for menial tasks. For deep thinking, it's silence and frantically pacing around the house with pen and paper. Can't think if I'm still, one of the reasons a regular cubicle job would annihilate my creativity.


Yah, thanks there is some good stuff there.

For those that do the techo/trance/electronica.

Check out di.fm. A couple decades ago !!!! I wrote a large fraction of one startup's code base listening to them and groove salad on soma.fm. Then when they died during the .com bust, I flipped over to another and repeated the process at a place that survived selling said product for another 20 or so years. Caffine and vocal trance calmed the head down enough to sit in that flow state for 8+ hours a day for weeks on end and just hammer it out.


+1 on Infected Mushroom, they rock!


My first introduction to them was "IM The Supervisor" two decades ago, and still to this day, they keep releasing absolute bangers.

I quite like their recent "Head of NASA" album, but my favourite one is "Legend of the Black Shawarma".


My pick recently has been Eurobeat when programming / writing, but I used to listen to breakcore for focus too.


Tangential to the article—I didn’t receive an ADHD diagnosis until ~25 when I was at the beginning of my career and struggling much more than my coworkers (ranging from missing important info in long meetings to self starting projects).

For meetings, I fell back on tricks I discovered in elementary school—I found that when I drew pictures or doodled, I could pay attention better to what was being said; a partial distraction (say 10% of my attention) allowed me to focus the rest of my attention on what was being taught. However if I attempted to focus solely on the lecture, my mind would inadvertently wander to daydreaming and I would capture nothing at all.


One of the companies I worked for had a strong ops culture and so having laptops opening during meetings was part of the culture. I started doing it and found out that I, too, can focus on meetings the entire time if I have my laptop open, as long as I'm not doing too much with it (like coding). If I use it for idle stuff, it's like my brain gets to take little minibreaks and I can focus through a whole meeting. Same as if I have something to do with my hands, like a fidget or bendy wires that I can make things out of.


Same for me. I can't concentrate on the lecture if I don't take notes or draw figures and diagrams. I realized this now when I'm 24.


Not to be confused with the "brown note":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_note


Hi, I'm playing with a 8051 right now. I found your comment on another thread, and it made me curious about your implementation. You mentioned that the code was available per request. I am writing you here, because I couldn't find any contact info for you and the thread was too old to allow any new comments. If you read this and are still willing to share the code, shoot me a mail at: simon at simonscode . org


Oh that explains why I was getting weird results


Adult with ADD here. I like to use grey noise while studying and find it has even less of the annoying high pitch of white noise (vs brown). I also like the sound of a stream or creek, which is close to brown noise. Grey sounds like a very large waterfall to me.

These kind of noise also really help for blocking distracting background noises, especially when used with noise canceling headphones. I find noise canceling doesn’t work by itself because it lowers the noise floor so much you can hear everything still.


Adult with ADHD and tinnitus here. I have been using brain.fm with either Bose headset or Apple ear buds with resounding success. Actually made aware of brain.fm from a post here.

Been a long time lurker and fist time posting. Thank you all for the great analysis and commentary!


Music/sound definitely has a strong potential to either focus/align my brain, or scramble it. The image that comes to mind is when you see ferromagnetic dust on a flat surface and then activate a magnetic field, watching all the little pieces align.

Brown noise is really surprisingly good at this. Progressive house at certain BPM’s with limited vocals helps too. On the flip side, certain music, rhythms, etc can be as distracting to me as a mosquito biting at my arm.


I'm not sure if I have ADHD, they say if you get a high from the medication you probably don't have it. But I always play music. All the time. It has to be music I already know for focus. If not working, podcast. Or some YT video. I also am a loner/have lived alone for a few years so idk it's a way to not remember that I guess.


Can chime in on your first comment: back in 2014, I tried cocaine for the first and only time in my life, while at a fancy bar. While the rest of the people went pink faced and got "high" from it for the rest of the night, I got extremely sober and calm from it (and it burnt my nose). I didn't know at the time I had ADHD or even what the disorder was all about. Diagnosed last year at age 32: so much of the last 20 years of my life makes sense now, all the little coping mechanisms, impulsive behaviours, my relationship with caffeine and so on. It's like seeing yourself for the first time.

I cannot imagine what any of the ADHD meds feel like for normal people, and I suspect a good chunk people don't have the same experience from caffeine. For some, it probably makes them sharper & more awake and so on, but for others it would calm them down and centre the brain and make you feel "normal" for a bit.


Glad you were able to get something worked out.

In college days when you use it (not prescribed) at least for me I felt amazing. Like everything I did was correct example playing a guitar every chord was played right. I could sit down and cram for 12 hours straight (pretty amazing) and take an exam. I was better at conversing with people since I could focus on their face/not look away/be in the moment.

But yeah that euphoria part is not great. Because you can do the wrong things too/be focused on that.


I don’t know if I have ADHD but this Brown Noise Loops album relaxes the heck out of me at night time and helps me fall asleep much faster than without it.

https://www.amazon.com/Brown-Noise-Loops-Therapy/dp/B06XQRTC...


I learned this by accident. I recently bought an air purifier and I leave it at full blast in the morning while I'm working. This unintentionally put me in the zone


As a person with ADHD (confirmed by the nice people at the UCI psychiatric departments child development center), I can confirm that background drones help me work.


Sounds like the ocean breaking on the beach. Makes sense that living near the beach would be calming: the shoreline is a rich source of resources.


This is a common pattern I’ve anecdotally seen in myself and others with ADHD.

It’s not just sound, but any sort of background stimulation can help me focus. You can’t play brown noise in a meeting, but you sure can play with a fidget cube in your pocket, and it helps me focus on the content of the meeting. I like taking calls on a walk because background visual noise helps me focus on the call.

> With ADHD, we need to seek an optimal level of stimulation to keep focused.

https://www.hackingyouradhd.com/podcast/the-science-of-fidge...


> fidget cube in your pocket

This could be misconstrued. On the other hand a rosary is a lot less ambiguous.


I'm surprised no one mentioned ASMR. I suppose some people might prefer that to plain noise (noise can be distracting, but) talking/people doing something in what would otherwise be a silent room can be relaxing.


If you're looking for some variation, consider the various Dark Ambient labels on YouTube. It's become my go to music as I've gotten older; I pretty much can't listen to music with vocals anymore.


It's also amazing for people with trouble sleeping. It masks all the noises that pull you out of deep sleep. I've been using white noise for sleep now every night for years. You can get machines that play many different tones to help with that. There's even a machine that uses a physical process to generate white noise that's much more organic than playing a looped file. It's cool, would recommend / 10. Now I have to try coding with some brown noise. If this really is the same tone as a plane I get why so many people love working on planes now.


I’ve seen studies that found that using white noise during sleep did not give the brain proper rest. Don’t remember the study name now unfortunately.


I indeed found pink noise more comfortable than white for me. The explanation around frequency makes a lot of sense.


The best online site for white noise (and background noises in general) in my opinion is this: https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/whiteNoiseGenerator.php by Dr. Ir. Stéphane Pigeon.

You can pick Brown Noise in the left column. You can also customize the sound itself.

Personally, I need to shift it a little to accommodate with my tinnitus to get the relaxing effect of white noise.


I have and love the Mynoise app but it doesn't seem to have a downloadable brown noise.


They release content on streaming websites. You can find it on Spotify and download it: https://open.spotify.com/album/09hLaixeAaAClNfmgfPuG8

There is also a "Order as an Audio file" button on MyNoise where you can buy the result of a customized generator.

(Not directly associated to them, just a big fan and power user)


It’s there, just hard to find.

Open White Noise and Co, then tap “custom noise” and select Color. Brown is on the list.


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