Lo-Fi Music and ADHD

woman listening to headphones with a smile on her face

I still vividly remember that lightbulb moment stumbling upon lo-fi on Spotify a few years ago. I was working hard on a client project and feeling overwhelmed in the moment hoping to find some motivating music that would also calm my insides. I clicked play on the recommendation with hesitation, wondering how this fuzzy, repetitive music could help me.

But about twenty minutes in, something shifted. My frenzied thoughts slowed to a steady comfortable pace, mirrored by the calm cadence of melody. I could focus – truly focus – on the content in front of me for the first time in what felt like a very long time. I dove in, amazed at the difference this created in my ADHD brain. The work I was doing felt soothing and engaging.

In chatting with others also hypnotized by lo-fi beats, I discovered a shared connection. We’d outgrown the ADHD stigma assuming it’s just juvenile distractibility and lack of discipline…I mean I’m not a kid anymore and still struggle. We knew it went deeper, that our brains sought stimulation while paradoxically struggling to filter inputs. But where typical music’s layered instrumentation and abrupt shifts tended to overstimulate us, lo-fi’s predictable simplicity hit the sweet spot.

Research now suggests what I stumbled upon accidentally – that lo-fi activates “the groove mode network,” allowing more cognitive flexibility without overtaxing our working memory. One study even shows lo-fi with binaural beats boosts focus and mood more than traditional concentration music. The science confirms what I feel when the music transports me into a fully present headspace.

This isn’t to say lo-fi miraculously “cures” ADHD or removes the need for other evidence-based care. But it speaks to the power of finding hacks that work with our neurology rather than against it. Of seeking understanding instead of judging ourselves for deviations from mythical norms. All brains are unique, but maybe we have more shared wiring than society leads us to believe. Wherever you land, I hope you find the rhythm that sets yours free.

Here are a few playlists from Spotify to get you started. Enjoy!