Govind M., the Stanford student who wrote me about walking while studying, has written again to say that brown noise (deeper than white noise) makes him “calm and focused”. He discovered this while trying to find something to listen to while doing schoolwork:
I tried listening to rain, and that was ok. I know some people try to find places that are really, really quiet and then work there. But that’s pretty hard to do. Plus, it seems that the more silent the place, the more distracting individual noises potentially are. So one day I tried brown noise, because it was on the same site as the rain, and I was a fan immediately. I tried white and pink but I found them less calming and a bit too static-y. I use brown noise when I really need to focus. So any “serious” reading, writing, coding, studying, etc. I don’t know if there are contexts in which brown noise doesn’t help, but it does seem a bit much for responding to emails. . . . [It] makes the outside world melt away.
It also helps him fall asleep. He uses headphones to listen to it. Unfortunately, he said, “everyone that I have told about this thinks I am crazy.”
I tried it and quickly became a fan. Brown noise is much more pleasant than white noise. I especially like the Getting Wet preset on this page, which is close to brown noise. It does help me focus. Putting on my noise-cancelling headphones and listening to this is like being instantly transported to a faraway peaceful place. A cabin in the woods. I use it when I am doing something that takes full attention. Unlike podcasts or books, it doesn’t interfere with writing. Unlike music, it never becomes boring. (The same piece of music over and over gets boring.) Why isn’t something like brown noise piped into waiting rooms, waiting areas, and elevators?