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Have you ever considered investing in a white noise machine for the sake of your sleep?
Unless you’re one of the lucky few who could sleep through a tsunami, you probably struggle to fall asleep in a noisy environment.
Barking dogs, rowdy passersby, traffic and beeping car horns, snoring partners — and even chirping birds — are all forms of noise pollution that can disturb our sleep.
Sudden or periodic noises can jostle us awake — even if only briefly — or even prevent us falling asleep entirely.
All this has a negative effect on our health and leaves us feeling fatigued and ill-prepared to face the brand new day.
If this all sounds rather too familiar, take heart — a white noise machine might very well be your white knight in shining armor.
More and more people are using white noise for sleep, and many of those people will swear to the fact that white noise has been a game changer and that they can’t fall asleep without it.
In fact white noise machines are becoming such a popular sleep hack, that there are a rapidly growing number of appliances and mobile apps on the market that generate white noise to let you sleep soundly.
So what is white noise all about? Read on to find out…
- 1 What is White Noise?
- 2 The Best White Noise Machines for Sleep
What is White Noise?
Even when we’re asleep, our brains are still keeping one (metaphorical) eye open.
While you’re catching your zzzs, your brain continues to register and process sounds — albeit on a basic level. This is why we are still susceptible to disturbance from environmental noise, even when we’re in the land of nod.
When our sleep is disturbed, it causes our bodies to react — waking or moving, changing heart rate and blood pressure, and elevating stress levels — and if we happen to be in one of the most important phases of our sleep cycle this can prevent us having the deep, healing sleep that we need to regenerate cells and recharge our batteries.
…So it may seem a little nonsensical to add yet another noise to the equation. But white noise is no ordinary noise — white noise is better noise.
Technically speaking, white noise is a special type of consistent sound signal that is evenly distributed across all audible frequencies.
The environmental noises that wake us, disturb us, or stop us from sleeping are normally inconsistent, sudden noises — or ‘peak’ sounds — that jolt our senses.
The constant, gentle frequency of ambient white noise acts as a screen to camouflage and even out other unexpected, irritating noises that thwart our attempts to sleep.
It’s a background noise, something that distracts your brain but that you don’t have to pay attention to.
Instead of drowning out the offending sounds, they become masked by the frequencies of the white noise signal, quieting your mind.
Here’s a quick preview of what it sounds like:
White noise can also be beneficial in other situations too.
Finding it hard to concentrate in the office because your co-workers are too noisy? Try adding a white noise machine to your work environment to help you drown them out and focus on the important stuff.
Suffering from tinnitus? White noise can help cancel that out too, making you more relaxed and more likely to drop off to sleep.
Are you a parent of a young baby? A white noise machine could well help your little bundle of joy quieten down and soothe him or her gently into slumber.
Genuine white noise can only be generated electronically and sounds a bit like fizzing static on the TV or the radio.
However the term white noise also encompasses other soft, steady background sounds like the sound of rain or the sea, or the sound of a crackling fire.
There are also other sound ‘colors’ which have different intensities. Pink noise for example works on a lower frequency range than white noise, which some people find more agreeable.
We suggest you experiment to find the type which suits you best. There are a whole bunch of white noise machines to choose from to suit all tastes and budgets — from standalone machines to mobile apps.
Here’s the rundown of our favorite white noise machines for sleep…
The Best White Noise Machines for Sleep
For many white noise devotees, it is the sound of a whirring fan that they find the most effective — but they don’t want the annoying breeze that comes with it.
The Marpac Dohm-DS is super simple to operate.
It is possible to adjust the volume and pitch of the white noise by turning the acoustic casing, and the continuous flow of white noise sounds fluid and natural.
There are two motor speeds to choose from with the flip of a switch. This machine is subtle enough to be used anywhere — even in the office, and its compact, low key design is very unobtrusive.
- Natural sounding white noise
- Very effective at masking intrusive sound
- User friendly
- Small and light – easily portable
- Comes with a one year guarantee
- Available in 3 colors
- 2 speeds on offer
- No additional sounds or features
This popular device has a great range of customizable features.
In addition to white noise sound, the HoMedics Sound Spa also offers six different looped nature sounds including rolling thunder, a babbling brook and calming rain to send you off to sleep. You could easily create your own home spa with this atmospheric tool!
It operates either via mains electricity or with AA battery power, making it ideal for taking with you on trips away.
It comes equipped with a timer should you wish to switch off the sounds automatically after 15, 30 or 60 minutes.
- Variety of sounds to choose from
- Small and easily portable
- Easy to use
- Great value for money
- Good sound quality
- Adjustable volume
- Looped sounds transition smoothly
- Auto off timer
- Not as durable or high quality as other machines on this list
You’ll love the sleek, modern lines of this white noise machine, but the attractive design is only one of the many features of the Wave Premium.
Like the HoMedics Sound Spa above, this sleep therapy system has a choice of six seamlessly looped sounds including nature sounds, plus white noise and a fan sound to soothe you to sleep. It too has an optional automatic timer to turn the sounds off once you have nodded off.
This unit comes with good quality integrated speakers, volume control, and features a handy built in USB charger to charge your smartphone or other USB devices while you sleep. We found the audio and durability to be of a higher quality than the similar HoMedics product.
- Lightweight, attractive design
- High quality sound for the size
- Comes with an impressive 5 year warranty
- Good range of sounds
- Useful USB charger
- Easy to use
- Includes a timer
- No battery power, mains electricity only
- Lights are soft but may disturb particularly sensitive sleepers
This is another product, like the Dohm white noise machine, that is mechanical rather than digital, using a dual speed fan to create the sound of rushing air without creating a draft.
The virtually non repetitive whirring noise that the fan provides is effective at cancelling out those irritating environmental noises.
The volume and tone of the white noise sound is adjustable to suit your preference. This machine works with mains electricity only — you can’t take it camping with you!
- Very affordable — a cheaper version of the Dohm white noise machine
- Good at masking unwanted background noise
- Neutral color and design
- Very simple to operate
- Compact, light and portable
- Adjustable tone and volume
- Dual speed
- Limited choice of sound and no other features
- Can be a little on the quiet side for some users
- Mains electricity only
This sturdy mid-range white noise sound machine uses non-repetitive and non-looping digital sounds (10 fan sounds and 10 white noise sounds) to successfully mask the majority of annoying noises in the surrounding environment.
The LectroFan benefits from a useful automatic timer which acts to shut off your chosen sounds whenever you want.
The user friendly interface on this stylish little hexagonal unit features simple volume, sound and timer buttons.
The LectroFan white noise machine is powered by a USB cable with AC adaptor, meaning you can use it plugged into any device with a USB slot (like your laptop) as well as plugged into the mains.
- Great compact, robust design
- Quality sounds which efficiently mask disturbing noises
- 1 year warranty
- Portable – good for travelling
- Large range of volume adjustment
- Good quality and value for the price
- USB is easy to plug in anywhere
- Lack of other sound options – sounds are very similar
- No battery backup
- On the expensive side
Which is your favorite white noise machine?