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Is Brown Noise the New White Noise?

by Angela Maple


At a Glance:

Why Does Noise Help Some People Sleep?

What is Brown Noise

What are the Benefits of Brown Noise?

Where Can You Find Brown Noise?

For better or worse, our brains continue to process sensory information while we sleep, so noises like our dog barking, our partner's snoring, or even leaky sinks can easily cause us to have sleepless nights.

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If you prefer to block out distractions at work with the sound of a running fan, you may already be familiar with white noise. You might even use pink noise to fall asleep, which simulates the soft lapping of the ocean waves against the shore.

Brown noise, also known as Brownian noise or red noise, is a different frequency to try out because it emphasizes lower-frequency sounds. It resembles a low roar or rumbling and has the loudest intensity of any sound.

Do you enjoy loud noises like wind, loud rain, or the constant hum of an airplane? Perhaps the sounds of water rushing in the distance or a fan's gentle rustling of cool air currents will put you to sleep?

Welcome to the BROWN NOISE CLUB!

In order to hear and feel how your own ears and brain respond, turn up the volume. Learn more about brown noise and how it may enhance your sleep and mental health.

Why Does Noise Help Some People Sleep?

brown noise

Different people respond differently to outside stimuli. That includes physical contact (like hugs), potent odors, caffeine, glaring lights, or noise.

So, while one person may find a sound calming or relaxing, another may find it annoying. There are a number of theories as to why some people think that sonic hues have advantages.

Distraction And Relaxation

You can be diverted by noise and kept from worrying or overthinking too much. According to some research, listening to music can help people unwind mentally, which may promote sleep. The noise alone, though, might not be sufficient to divert your active mind if your thoughts are unsettling or powerful.

Sound Masking

Loud noises can wake us because our brain continues to process outside sounds while we sleep. However, masking "drowns out" isolated loud noise through persistent background noise. The same car alarm or dog barking will be much louder and may be more likely to wake us in a quiet country town than in a busy city center.

Classical Conditioning

The learning process known as classical conditioning can explain how we react to noise while we are sleeping. Combining noise with sleep may make it easier for someone to fall asleep and stay asleep if the noise is relaxing. Noise serves as a reinforced stimulus for restful sleep in this way. If the noise bothers you, it will prevent you from falling asleep and act as a reinforcer for sleep disruptions.

Auditory Stimulation

Pink, white, or brown noises are not the only types of auditory stimulation. This involves playing low-frequency tones to "boost" specific sleep stages, like deep sleep, possibly enhancing sleep quality.

What is Brown Noise

The higher frequencies of white and pink noises are further lowered by brown noise. It sounds a little rougher than pink noise and is comparable to the roar of a strong wind or river. Brown noise has calming effects, enhances focus, and of course, improves sleep.

Brown Noise Vs. White Noise Vs. Other Noise Types

white noise

It may seem strange to think of noises as having different "colors," but the frequency of a noise determines its color.

In actuality, their names were derived from the arrangement of a rainbow's colors. The lowest frequencies of sound are red, just like the lowest frequencies of visible light; they are simply referred to as "brown" because of how much they resemble Brownian motion. Violet is the highest frequency of sound.

White noise is in the middle and has equal amounts of all frequencies, but it is not a sound that is present in the natural world. The majority of white noises are artificial and well-known, such as radio static, a fan spinning, or an air conditioner humming.

Brown noise includes all frequencies, just like white noise does. However, it emphasizes lower frequencies more, making low tones louder and higher-pitched sounds quieter.

According to Dr. Amy Sarow, a clinical audiologist at the Michigan Ear Institute, brown noise has rounder, more calming characteristics than white noise, making it a little less sharp than white noise.

Examples of brown noise include: 

  • Thunder
  • Crashing waves
  • Heavy rain
  • Strong waterfalls
  • A shower

Other Kinds of Noise: 

  • Pink noise is intermediate between white and red (brown) noise. Compared to brown noise and white noise, it emphasizes high frequencies more. Pink noise can be heard frequently in nature, such as during steady rain, low waves, and wind through trees. 
  • Blue noise has higher frequencies that are slightly louder than lower frequencies. It has a hissing water spray-like sound. 
  • Violet, or purple noise, is the polar opposite of brown noise, with higher frequencies being louder than lower frequencies. Violet noise has a high-pitched TV static-like sound.

What are the Benefits of Brown Noise?

Although brown noise may have a slightly harsher sound than other noises, it can still be calming. 

  • It could help lull you to sleep: Your heart rate and breathing can be lowered and calmed by rhythmic brown noises like the sound of breaking waves and heavy rain, which will make falling asleep easier.
  • It can aid your concentration and focus. Due to the fact that brown noise causes more neurons in your brain to fire, it may improve working memory. According to Sarow, this encourages quicker access to stored information. Theoretically, it might increase attention span, which might be advantageous for those who have ADHD
  • It can help cut down on distractions. According to Andrew Kahn, Senior Subject Matter Expert at and a licensed psychologist, using a brown noise machine is an excellent way to block out distracting noises so you can concentrate while working. 
  • It can help promote relaxation. For instance, the ocean waves' sound can help calm people down and lessen their stress. Your brain may also feel more relaxed due to the rain's rhythmic sound.
  • It may help mask tinnitus. According to Sarow, many people who experience tinnitus, a condition that causes a persistent ringing in the ears, prefer the "softer tones of brown noise to the "sharper" tones of white noise. Depending on your tinnitus, brown noise may lessen or even stop the ringing.

Where Can You Find Brown Noise?

It is no longer necessary to buy a CD or sound machine to play relaxing music while you sleep at night, though you can, if you prefer. There are a ton of free playlists available on YouTube and other websites. Sound apps can also be downloaded using a phone or other device. 

Other Tips to Boost Your Sleep Quality  

While sound machines and apps can undoubtedly be useful for helping your mind unwind just enough for you to nod off, there are also many other organic ways to promote better sleep. If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep, use the following natural sleep aids: 

  • Be Consistent 

Establish a schedule, go to bed and wake up at the same times every day (including the weekends), and stick to it on a quality mattress like this Sealy Posturepedic mattress to slip into the routine easier. 

  • Remove Gadgets 

Before going to bed, remove all electronics from your bedroom, including laptops, smartphones, TVs, and tablets. 

  • Get Some Exercise 

Engaging in physical activity during the day can help you burn off some of the energy that keeps you awake at night if you have trouble falling asleep.  

  • Limit Naps

Taking naps can interfere with your sleep schedule. If you must nap, keep it to no more than 30 minutes.

  • Bedtime Routine

Enjoy soothing pastimes for at least 30–60 minutes before sinking into this plush Sealy Elsanta mattress. Your body and mind can relax by reading, practicing meditation, and stretching.

  • Find the Right Mattress 

When it's time to replace your mattress, let Mattress Land help you find a solution to your sleep problems. Curious about how we're going to do that? With our BedFIT, of course!  

Although brown noise research is still in its infancy, what is known about it suggests that it may be able to enhance focus, concentration, and sleep. Just a few examples of relaxing brown noise sounds include ocean waves, waterfalls, and thunder, but if those aren't your thing, you can also try listening to plain old static frequencies. You can even combine various sounds and frequency strengths in many apps and online playlists to create a customized sound that suits your needs.

Whether you use an app or a sound machine, enhance your sleep experience with the right mattress as you drift to sleep to the sound of heavy rain. Stop by a Mattress Land near you, where we aim to ensure you leave with the perfect mattress that supports and cradles you the way you need.

Why Trust Mattress Land?

Since 1996, Mattress Land has been making strides in the mattress industry to provide our customers the sleep experience they need — and deserve. We do that by offering the ultimate customer experience, complete with our trained experts, BedFIT™ computerized diagnostics, and our impressive showroom. We'll make sure that you find the right sleep solution for your sleeping habits so you can feel energized in your day-to-day life.

We are also proud of our diverse, employee-driven culture, where our teams work hard toward a common goal. We know that better sleep makes all the difference, and our commitment to changing the landscape of traditional mattress shopping is how we know Mattress Land is one of the best mattress stores around.

Shop Mattresses at Mattress Land

At Mattress Land, we provide quality name-brand mattresses for great prices. Our sleep experts are always happy to help you learn more about brown noise. With locations throughout California, Idaho, Nevada, and Washington, Mattress Land is bound to have a sleep solution for everyone. We are more accessible than ever! You can call us at 800-909-9299, visit our website to shop Mattress Land sales, and check out Mattress Land reviews online. Or better yet, stop by one of our showrooms to discover why we are everyone's favorite local mattress store. Visit us today!

Learn More: How Much Sleep Do I Need?