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sleep / wellness

Brown Noise

by BetterSleep
Nov 24 2022 • 4 min read

You just finished up your nighttime routine. You turn off the lights, put your book on the side table, and get cozied up in your bed. A minute goes by, then five minutes, and the next thing you know it’s been an hour and you still can’t get to sleep!

Every night it’s the same old story. Sleep just doesn’t come easy to you. But what if there was a sound that was so calming, it could put you to sleep?

No, not white noise, or pink noise - we’re talking about brown noise. But why and how can brown noise help? What are the benefits? And what’s the difference between brown noise and white noise, and pink noise? Keep reading to find out.

What Is Brown Noise?

Brown noise is one of many “sonic hues.” Sonic hues are also known as the “noise spectrum”: it’s the basic practice of naming colors after certain sounds.

Think of white noise and pink noise; brown noise sounds fall within that spectrum. It has a sound that’s like a low roar.

Some examples that you can find in nature itself include:

  • A strong wind
  • River current
  • Heavy rainfall

The name “brown noise” comes from Robert Brown, who was a Scottish botanist. He discovered something known as Brownian motion, which was the way that grains of pollen in water move when looked at under a microscope. The idea is that brown noise mimics these movements by using sound signals that change randomly and produce static.

What’s the Difference Between Brown Noise and White Noise?

Although brown noise falls on that same spectrum of “sonic hues" that white noise and pink noise fall under, there’s a difference between brown and white noise and pink noise.

Let’s look at each individual one and what they represent:

  • White noise. White noise sounds spread broadly across the sound spectrum. It ranges from lower frequencies, mid-frequencies, to high-frequencies. Think of white noise like a waterfall, but not one that’s consistent. One that’s falling at different speeds and onto different surfaces beneath it. Like the others,
  • Pink noise. This sound tends to be softer at high frequencies and louder at low frequencies. It creates an even and more flat sound. Think of steady rain or waves at the beach.
  • Brown noise. Stronger and deeper at the low end compared to its pink and white noise counterparts. It has no high-frequency sounds that the other sonic hues have. For brown noise, as we mentioned earlier, strong wind or heavy rainfall could represent this sound.

White noise is the most well-known and popular of the three. They even have white noise machines now. It’s also likely the most common sound used to help with sleep. Although brown noise is a bit rougher, it can be used to help with sleep as well.

And these are just three of many other “sonic hues” that are recognized. There is violet noise, which is a variation of white noise; blue noise, which simply has a less intense frequency increase than violet noise; and there is also gray noise, which is said to be like pink noise, but it does sound different for each user.

What Are the Benefits of Brown Noise?

These sounds offer a variety of benefits for many different circumstances. Some of these include:

  • Improved sleep. This sound can help you fall asleep. It may be for a variety of reasons. Some experts suggest that random changes in noise while we’re sleeping can cause you to wake up or even keep you up. Since a noise like brown noise is continuous and can potentially work in “sound masking,” or in other words, block other noises, it may prevent this effect. It may also help you calm your breathing and lower your heart rate, allowing you to fall asleep easier.
  • Improved focus. Using a noise like this can mask any other distracting noises that may appear in the background while you work which would normally distract you. This soundmay also have a positive impact on your working memory as it increases the firing rate of neurons in the brain. Overall, all of this can lead to a greater attention span and a better ability to work through a single task without distraction.
  • Promotes relaxation. The continuous non-interrupted noise that a brown noise provides may help to promote relaxation. In a sense, it quiets your mind - helping you to be more present in the moment rather than in your own head. Certain sounds associated with brown noise may reduce stress and help your brain relax.

When to Use Brown Noise

You can use brown noise in a variety of scenarios. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it could be a great addition to help you relax and unwind before bed. It may also help to block any noises that wake you in the middle of the night. Although, if you do fall asleep with headphones in, it’s important to keep it at a low volume to avoid ear damage. It’s recommended not to fall asleep with them, so it may be best to just listen before bed.

You may also like listening to certain brown sounds during a relaxation activity like meditation, visualization, or even breathing techniques. Listening to natural sounds can help you relax easier and concentrate on the task at hand.

Lastly, another great time to use it is during any studying or working activities. Doing this can help you concentrate and relax while working or preparing for an assignment or test.

Where to Listen to Brown Noise

Brown noise can be found in nature in many areas, whether it’s crashes of waves at the beach, heavy rainfall pouring down, or even a steady waterfall. However, it may be easier to find noises online. Doing this can help you get a more customized sound that suits your personal preferences and needs. BetterSleep offers a variety of sounds you can use for sleep - including ocean waves and wind. Try it for free today.


Brown noise is clearly a useful tool you can use to help in a variety of life scenarios. Whether studying, working, or trying to sleep, this noise can help you relax and focus. And although there are other noises out there like white noise and pink noise, you may find that you’re much more attuned to using brown noises as it helps you relax the best.

Seeing as each person is unique, this could be true for you. We encourage you to try out brown noise if you haven’t yet, as it could be the difference between you getting good sleep, doing a job well done, or even relaxing enough to help you recharge for another day.

Whether you want that constant background noise, or you simply enjoy the sound frequency and what certain noises sound like, listening to brown noise can help you in many ways.

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