Can A Brown Noise Machine Help You Sleep Better? A Physician Explains

This white noise alternative might be the relaxing brain massage you’ve been looking for.
The LectroFan high fidelity noise machine, iDealSleep brown noise machine and the portable Sleptive white and brown noise machine.

The first time I heard brown noise, I was instantly lulled into a state of deep relaxation. The tones were much more velvety and lower-pitched than the better-known sound of white noise, which, to me, has always sounded staticky and impossible to sleep to, despite what many people say about its somnolent properties.

Aside from sound clips on TikTok and anecdotal claims in support of its soothing ability, it was difficult to find a lot of information on brown noise and why it affected me this way. But Courtney Paré, a Rhode Island-based naturopath who specializes in mental health guidance, said it may possibly be due to a degree of neurodivergence.

“[The reason] why individuals with ADHD and/or sensory processing issues may find brown noise so soothing and silencing could be due to ‘stochastic resonance,’” Paré said. ”[This] is a phenomenon seen in electronic devices as well as human physiology, where adding a certain amount of noise actually increases signal transmission.”

As someone with a history with sensory processing difficulties, this made sense to me, since, as Paré explained, many neurodivergent symptoms are related to a lower rate of signaling between neurons.

Most of available studies touting the benefits of noise therapy center around white noise, but Paré said brown noise is technically one and the same — just at a different frequency.

“White noise encompasses sound from the complete spectrum,” she said. “Brown noise, also known as red noise, or ‘brownian noise,’ consists of only low frequency sound, giving it more bass-heavy notes.”

This deeper resonance, according to Paré, can often remind people of sounds in nature, like wind rustling trees or calm ocean waves.

“As such, I find it can be a very grounding sound and help move the body from a ‘fight-flight-freeze’ state back into ‘rest-and-digest’ state,” she said, adding that the benefits of such a state shift can include everything from improved focus to increased sleep time and quality.

Like many healing tools, Paré stressed that noise therapy really comes down to individualized care and personal preference. If you’re not yet sure how general white noise will impact your sleep, it’s a little-known fact that iPhones have a free white noise feature you can try, although its brown noise options are very limited.

If brown noise appeals more to your senses than white noise, you might appreciate the following selection of noise machines that feature brown noise frequencies. They may help you sleep better.

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1
Amazon
A color-changing nightlight sound machine
This nightlight and sound machine features 30 non-looping noises, including brown and pink (another frequency on the white noise spectrum) as well as fan noises and nature sounds. It has a battery-powered operation and 12 different colored light settings to choose from, along with 10 levels of brightness. The timer settings and memory function allow you to automatically program when and for how long the sounds run.
2
Amazon
A compact machine with eight brown noises
The ultra-compact Sleptive machine has eight brown noises to choose from, the biggest selection out of all the options on this list. Users can also toggle through 12 white noises and 14 nature sounds along with eight different ambient colored light settings and 15 levels of volume.
3
Amazon
A high-fidelity 30-sound machine
This noise machine delivers a selection of 30 different soothing sounds through a high fidelity speaker with 36 levels of volume. The sleep sounds include white, brown and pink noise, nature sounds, fans and lullabies.
4
Amazon
A non-looping fan sound and noise machine
The LectroFan noise machine, which has a USB plug-in for power, offers 10 unique and non-looping fan sounds and 10 levels of the white noise spectrum, including brown and pink.
5
Etsy/TheFulfilledLife
A brown noise digital download
If you'd rather just pop on some sleep headphones and drift to sleep to the sounds of brown noise, this highly rated and instant digital MP3 download contains an hour and 40 minutes of brown noise across five different tracks

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