White Noise and ADHD

Playing white noise in the classroom can help inattentive children learn. Researchers in Sweden have, over the last 10 years, been studying the effects of white noise on memory, attention and learning. Several published studies have found that white noise can improve cognition and that it diminishes distracting stimuli. Researchers have discovered that neurotransmitter levels change as a response to continuous random frequency noise and this may be the reason why these ‘white sounds’ can help inattention.

White noise is defined as a sound made up of random frequencies from the whole spectrum of noise frequencies. The human ear hears it as calming hum. Some people have said that white noise is soothing because it is the sound that we heard in our mother’s womb and in fact, babies appear to sleep more soundly and be soothed by random frequency noise machines.

Over the years white noise has been used successfully to treat migraine headaches, insomnia, tinnitus (ear ringing) and now, in Sweden, ADHD. The brain’s neurotransmiter levels change as a response to noise frequencies and noise level. Studies have found that in dopamine deprived children with ADHD, white noise improves inattention significantly by normalizing dopamine levels. Normal controls without a neurotransmitter problem are hindered in performance by white noise that is too loud.

The most recent study from the University of Stocholm tested secondary school children’s ability to remember words with and without random frequency noise. In the classroom, the random frequency noise machine helped the memory of ADHD kids while it hindered the kids that had no attention problems.

According to Goran Soderlund, the lead researcher in the study, “There was significant improvement in performance for the children rated as inattentive by their teachers, and a significant decline in performance for those rated as attentive as noise levels were increased. This finding could have practical applications offering non-invasive and non-pharmacological help to improve school results in children with attentional problems.”

My mother recently gave my son a sleep MP3 that he took on the school camping and it never made it back home. With his own money he purchased this continuous random frequency sampler from Amazon. It has seven 15 minute track and my son reports that it is almost as good as Grandma’s gift. The sampler plays while my son sleeps and while he does his homework and he seems to find it both soothing and focusing.

Parents of children with ADHD and inattention may find that a random frequency noise machine or a white noise MP3 will help their children’s inattention. These MP3 are inexpensive and a are a small price to pay for improving attention at home and at school.

Tess Messer has a Masters Degree in Environmental Medicine and has published many articles on ADHD. For more ADHD information and for the links to many free ADHD resources visit: http://www.primarilyinattentiveadd.com

For information on organizing homework for ADHD students visit: http://www.primarilyinattentiveadd.com/2010/12/inattentive-adhd-but-organized.html

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