The effects of white noise on concentration and memory

At home, school and work, noises, such as computer equipment, ringing phones, video, games and the television are just a few examples of disruptive noises that will break one’s concentration and affect memory capabilities.


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said, that ambient noise can have a negative effect on a person’s health by increasing stress levels (and adding to an already stressful situations). Affected diseases include, but are not limited to: coronary disease, raised blood pressure, migraines and ulcers.It has been extensively studied, that when a white noise machine is used, it can aid in releasing hormones that will restore the body and mind to a normal and healthy state, following a stressful situation.

White noise, for the purpose of this article, is defined as a created signal; that is the combination of several different sound frequencies that are perceived by the brain and the human ear. Basically, you are “hearing” thousands of tones simultaneously.Imagine yourself in the center of a quiet restaurant, you can hear your dinner companion’s voice, but you may also be able to pick up the voices of the people sitting at the nearby tables. Now consider yourself at a large sporting event, you will not be able to zone in on one voice, because the sound that is registered in your brain, is a general “roar”.

White nose machine

A white noise machine is similar to the stadium example, since there are so many different sounds going on at the same time, it is blurred in your mind, and it becomes one sound. It is for this reason, that many people enjoy the sound of wind, rain noises, oceans and waterfalls as background noises, and they are commonly used for sound machines.

Many clinical studies have proven, that white noise machines can be an effective method to improve concentration in individuals of all ages, and especially for children with ADHD. This type of research has been published in several scientific journals, including, but not limited to: The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry; Behavioral and Brain Functions; as well as the NeuroReport.Cognitive processing can be disturbed very easily when outside stimulation distracts one’s attention from the task at hand, and young people that are hyperactive or have an attention deficient disorder, are more prone to outside distractions. White and pink sounds were used, and it has been proven, to improve the concentration of children that, as a norm, are easily distracted.In one study, about a dozen adult individuals learned new word associations, prior to sleeping, and they were tested before they were instructed to sleep with a white noise machine. When they awoke, they were tested again, and remembered twice as much.

brain waves

Brain waves were monitored, and it was noted that the benefit of white sound boosted the slow wave oscillations, and this proved that memory could be enhanced and sleep could be improved.The sound of ocean waves is considered to be a very soothing sound, as it enhances a state of relaxation, because many people relate this sound to an enjoyable vacation experience. This type of sound is commonly used in white noise devices, because it evokes relaxation, and helps a person to sleep more efficiently.

Other relaxing sounds could be a waterfall or the hum of an air conditioner. These types of sound are considered some of the best sounds to mask annoying noises. The right sound will make a big difference in your life, and your ability to concentrate and be more productive in your everyday activities.

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