Monday, June 5

Brown noise, does it really work to relax?

Do sounds have color? What relationship does this curious synesthesia maintain? If we dig a little deeper into this topic we will see that there is practically a rainbow to fill our ears. White, pink, blue or brown noise. They all have a certain wavelength and vibrate at different frequencies.

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Like many of the fashions that arise in these times, last summer we received a new trend from the hand of TikTok, especially from people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD).

It’s all about the benefits of a noise that could be reminiscent of waves crashing on the shore or a purring fan, and even a steady heavy rain or a conch shell and that would help them relax and focus. We are talking about brown noise, a close cousin of white noise that has more than 95 million views in its hashtag of the Chinese social network.

In YoutubeFor example, brown noise videos that are eight to twelve hours long have been viewed millions of times; and there is playlists Spotify dedicated to this sound and even specialized applications to reproduce it. But what exactly is brown noise? Does it really work?

Brown noise, older than we imagine

“Sounds are made up of different frequencies. Depending on the frequencies they have, they are given a name: white, pink, brown…”, says Dr. Gonzalo Martínez-Monche, an ear, nose and throat specialist who specializes in tinnitus.

White noise, for example, is embodied in a kind of constant hum that is produced by an equal distribution of energy at all audible frequencies.

Brown noise “has a prevalence of low tones”, qualifies the expert. It is a category of sound that contains all the frequencies that our ears can detect. It is like white noise, which integrates the entire spectrum of sound frequencies that exist in a harmonic way and is used above all to mask loud background noise, but with a lower quality, made up of low frequencies.

With higher frequencies muffled that make it sound less metallic, this type of noise, surely without being aware of it, was already used “a long time ago” by cultures as diverse as Buddhist, Christian or Australian primitive, that “they learned and used this low-frequency, bass and resonant noise, especially in large environments for their rituals,” says Dr. Martínez-Monche.

What benefits are associated with brown noise

One of the main benefits associated with brown noise is the calming effect, similar to other techniques such as breathing and meditation by activating the parasympathetic system, the way the body relaxes after a “fight or flight” response. to stress. This would be especially beneficial for people who suffer from anxiety, who admit that repetitive thoughts are reduced and, therefore, bring them to a state of calm.

Brown noise “would be like a mantra, and this relaxes,” says the otolaryngologist. “Physiologically it relaxes you, our auditory cortex processes that information in such a way that it achieves that relaxing effect.” On the other hand, a very sharp, very strident sound achieves the opposite.

It is also associated with greater concentration when working or studying because it reduces distracting noises – what is known as auditory masking. A little pilot study published in front psychology talk about stochastic resonance, a certain amount of exposure to auditory noise to improve the performance of a brain that is not functioning optimally. The study found that this helped people with ADHD do their tasks better by damping out distractions and “occupying the brain” by keeping the person focused.

It is also associated with better sleep. This is because while part of the brain can still sense and respond to sound (traffic, music, or sirens) during sleep, the frequencies of this noise would act as “sound masks”—that is, they would drown out isolated loud sounds. when playing at a continuous rate.

What science says about brown noise

The research on how meditation music and low frequency sounds can affect the brain and how it works is still very recent, although people who use it sing its praises, acknowledging, as we have seen, improved concentration, better sleep and relaxation.

Some theories suggest that lower frequencies may stimulate the brain more and that brown noise may have some auditory masking effects, disguising or covering up some of the more unpleasant sounds.

In other words, the brain could muffle the noises you don’t want to hear, while amplifying the noise you do want to hear. Although it is not known for sure if they are safe in the long term.

For the moment, and according to the Sleep Foundationstudies have shown that brown noise may be helpful in reducing symptoms suffered by people with ringing in the ears and in improving cognitive performance, although its effect on sleep has not been widely studied.

A revision A 2020 review of various studies on the effect of noise on sleep finds conflicting results as to whether constant noise at night can help us fall asleep. “The best thing is to sleep without anything,” acknowledges the otolaryngologist Martínez-Monche.

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