While it seems that people without ADHD can brush off the minor annoyances, it’s normal for people living with ADHD to feel overwhelmed. Alongside hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity, ADHD seems to exacerbate everything in your environment, specifically your senses. If you feel like you can taste, smell, or hear in extremes, you’re not alone.
If you live with ADHD, your brain can have a more difficult time filtering out irrelevant, extra information. Your brain processes everything around you and soaks up different stimuli like a sponge — including the more minor things others find easier to ignore.
A few situations where people with ADHD struggle with auditory sensitivities can include:
- Going shopping
- Repetitive noises like clocks are ticking, taps dripping, etc.
- Loud noises in general, getting startled easily.
- People are chewing with their mouths open.
- Eating utensils scraping the plate.
- Working from home when for instance, the washing machine or the tumble dryer are running.
- Going to parties, with usually a lot of loud sounds and high-pitched laughter.
- Visiting public spaces with a lot of people, like airports or trade fairs.
- Traveling and commuting, specifically public transportation.
If you think of your brain as a sink, information slowly drips down the faucet and gets filtered along the way. For people living with ADHD, the faucet is typically turned up to the highest possible setting.
In principle, a brain with ADHD overwhelms your system with the smallest of details. Every sensation is felt fully, every noise is detected, and everything within your sight quickly rushes into the brain because of its difficulty filtering out all of the extras.
Research has shown that these noises activate your sympathetic nervous system — your “fight or flight” mode. As a result, you may start to feel overwhelmed, while others may not seem bothered at all.
However, people living with ADD or ADHD aren’t always sensitive to sounds. Depending on the quality of your health, sleep hygiene, and stress levels, sensitivity to noise may differ. When you’re feeling tired or stressed, even the tiniest of noises can become painful.
Ultimately, it can become a vicious cycle-being exposed to certain noises for extended amounts of time can drain you even further. You may not even realize how affected you are by the noises around you every day. If you find yourself needing to lay down in a silent, dark room at the end of your day, you may benefit from wearing earplugs to reduce your sensitivity to noise.
Aside from helping you focus by minimizing external sounds, here are a few ways wearing earplugs can help:
Improves your sleep. The more tired you are, the more sensitive you are to different stimuli around you. This also means it’s more challenging to concentrate and focus when you need to. By wearing headphones or earplugs, not only are you helping yourself at the moment, but your future self will thank you when you’re able to get a good night’s rest.
Helps in switching tasks. Generally speaking, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, especially if we’re doing something we don’t want to do. Where concentration is enforced, it is essential to switch between types of tasks or activities. Additionally, to prevent boredom from distracting you, pick a song that’s long enough for the task at hand. Wearing earplugs is excellent for increasing concentration, so you can shift your attention as needed to get things done.
Improves social connectedness. Getting distracted by sounds can result in trouble identifying and processing what others are saying. Focusing on the conversation can get stressful and sometimes result in isolation, loneliness, and depression. By freeing yourself of any distractions and reducing stress, you’ll cultivate more profound and meaningful relationships.
Reduced anxiety. If you have ADHD, you may also struggle with anxiety. If you’re sensitive to certain sounds, you may experience this same feeling when you can’t control some of the intrusive noises happening around you. Wearing earplugs can drown out triggering noises and give you control over your surrounding environment while still having the ability to hear clearly.
The bottom line
Wearing earplugs can become an essential tool for you to cope daily, and taking action now can prevent troubling conditions from occurring down the road. Click here to learn more about how earplugs can help you.