When I first started Fade Away Sleep Sounds and got into the white noise business, it’s frightening to think how little I actually knew about white noise. I had heard it worked, then saw first hand how it worked, and then saw a a business opportunity. Sadly, that’s about it. It wasn’t until years later that I finally started doing some research into it and started understanding amore about the science behind it.
Most of what I learned was pretty logical… it’s loud in the womb for babies, so it makes sense that noise outside of the womb would be familiar and comforting to them. It also makes sense that it benefits light sleepers, both children and adults, because of it’s masking qualities. But the one thing that I didn’t expect to learn was that studies show that white noise can actually help focus and attentiveness with people who have ADHD.
If you do a simple Google search of “White Noise and ADHD,” you’ll get a lot of results with a lot of scientific data behind it. I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version of it… a lot of test have been done… white noise seems to help the inattentive be more focused… however white noise seems to have the reverse effect to people who do not have ADHD… scientists aren’t sure why.
Interestingly enough, my wife just has happened to have been diagnosed with adult ADHD and my oldest son (13 at the time of this writing) also has ADHD. Their internal chemistry is so similar its frightening, but that’s a rant for another blog.
Being around these two individuals day in and day out, I can really see how the findings of the researchers is spot on. Based on my own personal experiences, what science is telling me is, again, pretty logical. My wife has been pretty much self medicating with sound long before she was ever diagnosed, and ever since I’ve known her. She watches very little TV… I can count all the shows she’s interested in on one hand, yet the TV is ALWAYS on. She seems to be most engaged in our conversations only if she’s stemming on her ukulele or playing Candy Crush… again another blog, another rant.
My son best functions when he’s either fidgeting, doodling or listening to his music… LOUD. As I write this, he’s doing his homework downstairs with the theme from Legend of Zelda on a loop, and I can hear it clearly. Also, he seems to do his best work when he saves it till the last minute… I read another blog of someone with ADHD who said that “the ‘noise’ of deadlines and anxiety” helped him focus. And if you’ve read any of the ADHD books, it says a pretty universal trait of people with ADHD is that they are usually the calm ones during times of crisis.
One thing we do know about ADHD is that people who have it, have brains that produce less
dopamine than non-ADHD-ers. The various medication used to treat ADHD either increase the brains dopamine production, or block dopamine reuptake (the whole reuptake thing starts to get a little “sciency” and the topic of another discussion, so you’re better off just looking it up.) :-) There are also some natural ways of increasing dopamine… one of which is with faster paced brain waves. Some people think that all this white noise stimulates these brain waves, thus stimulating dopamine production.
From my front row seat observing the two ADHD-ers in my house, I have to say, I do see the connection between white noise and focus. And much like I was when I first started Fade Away Sleep Sounds, I’m not sure why it works, I just know it does.
My son struggling with ADHD is also the very same same son who I discovered the effectiveness of white noise with way back when he was a baby. If you look at the cover boy of Bathtub Sounds in the Baby Sleep Sounds section of our web site, that’s him! (And in the interest of equal air time, the cover boy on the Hair Dryer Sounds is my other son). :-)
Just recently my son tried using the bathtub sounds that worked so well with him as a newborn, to see if it could help him focus while doing homework. The result? He think’s it might have helped a little, but more than the helping, it made him have to pee. :-/ I think he’d just rather listen to his Zelda and Mario Bros’ themes, and I can’t say I don’t blame him.