Last updated:

January 24, 2024


 min read

ADHD and music: How can it help you focus?

Discover the therapeutic impact of music on ADHD, exploring how it enhances focus and emotional regulation. Dive into personalized playlists, music types, and practical integration tips.

Reviewed by
Sneha Toppo
Written by
Shreya Shankar


Music can play a role in helping individuals who struggle with ADHD. In this blog we will deep dive to see how it can help individuals improve their focus and manage symptoms.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects people of all ages, making it challenging for them to concentrate, control impulsive behaviours, and manage hyperactivity. While there are various treatment options, ranging from medication to therapy, an emerging area of interest is the use of music to help individuals with ADHD. 

The impact of music on the brain

Music has been a part of human culture for centuries, recognized for its ability to evoke emotions, stimulate the mind, and create a sense of unity. In recent years, researchers and clinicians have begun to explore the therapeutic potential of music, particularly in the context of ADHD. 

Music engages various regions of the brain, including those responsible for memory, emotion, and attention. Understanding how music affects the brain can provide valuable insights into its potential role in managing ADHD symptoms.

Studies have shown that listening to music activates the brain's reward system, and this triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with motivation and pleasure. This neurological response to music is what makes it a potentially valuable tool in managing ADHD symptoms. Many medications prescribed for ADHD, such as stimulants, target the dopamine system to improve attention and impulse control. Similarly, music has been found to stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain, creating a pleasurable and rewarding experience.

Another way music influences the brain is through rhythmic stimulation. Rhythm is a fundamental element of music, and it has the ability to synchronise brain activity. Research suggests that rhythmic auditory stimulation can enhance attention and focus in individuals with ADHD. When exposed to a rhythmic beat, the brain tends to synchronise its neural activity with the external rhythm, promoting a state of increased alertness and attentiveness. 

For individuals with ADHD, whose attention spans may be shorter than average, the rhythmic stimulation provided by music can act as a stabilising force. This synchronisation may help regulate neural processes associated with attention, potentially aiding in the management of ADHD symptoms. When individuals with ADHD listen to music with a steady beat, it can help regulate their internal sense of time and improve focus. The rhythmic structure of music provides a predictable and structured environment, which can be particularly beneficial for those struggling with impulsivity.

Emotional regulation is an area where individuals with ADHD often struggle, as impulsive reactions and emotional fluctuations are common. Listening to music can serve as a form of emotional regulation for those with ADHD. By choosing music with specific emotional tones, individuals can create a personalised auditory environment that promotes a desired emotional state. For instance, calming and soothing music may help reduce anxiety and stress, while more upbeat and energetic tunes can boost motivation and focus.

Personalised playlists and ADHD

The concept of personalised playlists tailored to individual preferences and needs has gained traction in the realm of using music to manage ADHD. This customization goes beyond the generic recommendations and takes into account the diverse preferences and sensitivities of each person with ADHD.

The tempo, or speed of music is a crucial factor in its impact on cognitive performance. Different tempos can elicit varying physiological and psychological responses. For individuals with ADHD, experimenting with different tempos in their personalised playlists can help identify the optimal pace that enhances concentration. Fast-paced music with an upbeat tempo may serve as a stimulant, increasing alertness and energy levels. On the other hand, slow and calming music can have a soothing effect, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Finding the right balance and discovering the tempo that aligns with an individual's cognitive needs is an essential part of leveraging music for focus.

Another consideration when creating personalised playlists is the choice between instrumental and vocal-centric music. While lyrics can be engaging, they may also serve as distractions for individuals with ADHD, especially during tasks that require verbal processing or reading. Instrumental music, without lyrics, eliminates this potential source of distraction and allows for a more seamless integration of music into activities requiring focused attention.

Types of music and their impact on focus

Not all types of music have the same effect on focus and attention. The choice of music genre and tempo can significantly influence the outcome. While individual preferences play a role, certain characteristics of music are generally more conducive to enhancing concentration in individuals with ADHD.

  • Classical music: Known for its calming and structured nature, classical music, particularly compositions with a slow tempo, can create a tranquil environment that promotes focus. The absence of lyrics reduces the risk of distraction, allowing individuals to immerse themselves in tasks without interference.

  • Binaural beats: This is a new form of sound wave therapy where sound travels from one ear to the other ear. It is a form of auditory beat stimulation where sounds are played at a certain frequency in one ear, and at a similar but different frequency in the other ear. This allows the brain to translate a sound with both tones and frequencies. This increases focus, motivation, and concentration. 

  • Ambient and instrumental music: Ambient and instrumental genres, characterised by gentle melodies and minimalistic compositions, can provide a soothing background for work or study. These genres are often free from the potential distractions of lyrics, making them suitable for individuals with ADHD.

  • Upbeat and energetic music: While slower tempos are generally recommended, some individuals with ADHD may find that moderately upbeat and energetic music helps stimulate their minds and maintain engagement. Experimenting with different genres and tempos can help individuals identify what works best for them.

Incorporating music into daily life

Integrating music into daily routines is a practical approach for individuals with ADHD looking to harness its benefits. Here are some suggestions on how to effectively incorporate music into different aspects of life:

  • Study and work sessions: Create a playlist specifically for study or work sessions, considering the tempo and instrumental versus vocal preferences. Experiment with different genres to find what enhances concentration without becoming a distraction.

  • Physical activities: Use music as a motivational tool during physical activities, such as exercise or household chores. Match the rhythm of the music to the pace of the activity to maintain focus and energy.

  • Relaxation and stress reduction: Develop a playlist for relaxation and stress reduction, incorporating calming and soothing music. Practise deep breathing or mindfulness while listening to music to enhance its stress-relieving effects.

  • Transitions and organisation: Use music as a cue for transitions between activities, signalling a shift in focus. Create playlists for specific tasks or times of the day to establish a structured routine.

  • Social interactions: Incorporate music into social settings to create a positive and enjoyable atmosphere. Choose background music that complements the social environment without overwhelming it.

  • Creating a music routine: Incorporating music into daily routines can be a personalised and effective strategy for managing ADHD symptoms. Some ways this can be done are by identifying personal preferences, establishing a listening environment, matching music to the nature of tasks to be completed, experimenting with background music, and using music as a signalling tool to transition between activities. 

Challenges and considerations

While music can offer valuable support for individuals with ADHD, it is essential to acknowledge that its effectiveness may vary from person to person. Additionally, there are some challenges and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Overstimulation: For some individuals with ADHD, certain types of music or excessive volume levels may lead to overstimulation. It is crucial to be mindful of individual sensitivities and adjust the music environment accordingly.

  • Task-specific preferences: The effectiveness of music may depend on the nature of the task. What works well for one activity may not be suitable for another. Experimentation and flexibility in choosing music based on the specific demands of each task are important.

  • Balancing silence and sound: While music can be beneficial, periods of silence are also valuable for concentration and reflection. Striking a balance between incorporating music strategically and allowing moments of quiet is key.

  • Individual variability: Each person with ADHD is unique, and what works for one individual may not work for another. Regular self-reflection and adaptation of music preferences based on personal experiences are essential.


While music alone may not be a comprehensive solution for managing ADHD, it can complement existing strategies and contribute to a more supportive environment. As our understanding of the intricate relationship between music and the brain continues to grow, it opens up new possibilities for holistic approaches to ADHD management. Whether it is the calming notes of classical music or the energising beats of pop, the power of music to influence focus is a melody worth exploring for those navigating the challenges of ADHD.

If you are looking for professional help and want a personalized treatment plan for ADHD, the Rocket Health team is here for you.


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