And How to Find the Best Model For You.
Have you heard them? I’ve certainly heard them over the last few weeks — and they’re about to pick up steam as we head towards the Fourth of July, which is easily one of my favorite holidays each year.
I’m talking about fireworks, of course. It’s officially Fireworks Season here in Southern California, where they’ve been firing off for about a week now. And it’s not just SoCal. Several friends and clients across the country told me they’ve recently heard more bangs, booms and crackles at night.
I love it, but I also know those late night explosions can make it tough to fall asleep. Luckily, I’ve got my “secret weapon” ready to go: my white noise machine. White noise is a great tool you can leverage to help block out loud noises and create a quiet and peaceful sleep environment. Research indicates white noise machines can help people in loud environments get nearly 50% more sleep on average each night than those not using white noise machines.
If you’re facing insomnia or restless nights, I recommend buying a white noise machine. The best part is, they don’t just help when your neighbors are setting off fireworks; they come in handy all year. Whether it’s a barking dog, a loud party across the street, or your kids having a noisy sleepover with friends, a white noise machine can help make sure your sleep isn’t derailed.
We have a lot to cover this week. First, I’ll explain what white noise is, how it works, and why it’s so effective as a sleep aid. Finally, I’ll tell you how to find the best white noise machine for you — including my picks for the seven best machines you can buy right now.
What Is White Noise?
Let’s get technical for a moment. White noise is the consistent noise created by combining low, mid and high frequency sounds. It has a flat spectral density, which is to say white noise has the same amplitude, or intensity level, at all points on the audio spectrum (from 20 to 20,000 hertz).
I know that’s a bit confusing, so let me put it in simpler terms. Imagine you’re talking to a couple friends in person or on Zoom. If asked, you could easily point out which voice belongs to which friend, even if they’re talking at the same time. But if 100 people were talking at the same time, it would be much harder; distinct voices would instead blend together into one jumbled sound.
That’s how white noise works. It spans the audio spectrum and contains all frequencies, making it where one sound doesn’t overwhelm the other. The term white noise derives from white light, which similarly combines all colors of light together, similar to white noise combining all different sound frequencies.
And how does it sound? A white noise machine tends to sound like wind is steadily rushing by, akin to a fan blowing air.
How White Noise Helps You Sleep
I know, it’s a bit counterintuitive: noise to help you sleep. But white noise is different. You can think of it almost as an anti-noise, working to distract your brain while you sleep.
Typically, when you wake up during the night, it isn’t necessarily a loud sound that jars you awake. Sure, the loud sound is a factor. But the real issue is the sudden change in noise frequency that alerts you. That’s what wakes you up.
White noise counters that problem, essentially acting as a mask to cover up any sounds that could disturb you during the night.
Remember, white noise is a combination of all audio frequencies, which safeguards your body from being caught off guard by a loud noise. White noise reduces the frequency gap between what you’re hearing and a sudden loud noise, like a firework going off at night, giving you a better shot of staying asleep.
How White Noise Machines Work
Multiple studies have shown using white noise machines are an effective way to get better sleep in loud environments.
Hospitals have tended to be the best place to research the benefits of white noise machines. One study, published in the Journal of Caring Sciences in 2016, looked at 60 patients staying in a coronary intensive care unit. Half of the patients were given a white noise machine at night, while the other half slept without one.
White noise machines were shown to significantly increase the time patients spent asleep. Patients using a white noise machine, after three days, saw their average sleep time rise 49%, from 4.75 hours per night to 7.08 hours per night. On the other hand, patients who did not have white noise machines reported “no significant changes” in their time spent sleeping.
Ultimately, the researchers concluded “white noise is recommended as a method for masking environmental noises, improving sleep and maintaining sleep” in a loud environment.
The findings built on a similar study from 2005 in the journal Sleep Medicine. In that study, researchers played recorded hospital sounds for some participants while they slept, while the others did not receive a machine. Researchers found participants without a white noise machine dealt with more sleep arousals during the night than usual, due to the hospital noises, while those using a white noise machine did not experience an increase in sleep arousals.
More research will continue to look into white noise and how it impacts sleep. But to this point, studies have shown white noise machines help people sleep better and longer by avoiding nighttime sleep arousals.
The Best White Noise Machine For You
Alright, we’ve established white noise is a big help when it comes to getting great sleep, no matter how much racket there is around you.
The challenge, though, is there are countless white noise machines to pick from. That’s why I’ve chosen my 7 favorite white noise machines to help you cut through the mediocrity and make a great purchase. Here are my go-to white noise machines:
The Best White Noise Machine for Any Room: The LectroFan
This is an awesome and affordable machine, no matter how big or small your room is. The LectroFan takes up less space than most white noise machines, and its smooth “shhhhh” sound helps block out high-pitched sounds. If you have a loud dog, this is an ideal machine for you — and it only costs about $45. This USA-made machine comes equipped with 20 different sounds, a sleep timer, and a powerful speaker. It’s a great bang for your buck.
The Best Looking and Functioning White Noise Machine: Douni Sleep Sound Machine
I simply love the way this one looks. Douni’s Sleep Sound Machine comes with a classic wood grain finish. It also has a number of great, easy-to-use features, like its sleep timer, which automatically turns off the machine after 30, 60, or 90 minutes. (That’s if you want to turn it off at all.) It also has more than 20 relaxing sounds, including 7 different categories of white noise to choose from.
The Best White Noise Machine for a Baby: Hatch Baby Rest
White noise can be a parent’s best friend. That’s because research suggests babies fall asleep quicker when accompanied by white noise. With that in mind, what parent wouldn’t want to put a white noise machine in their child’s room? And for babies, I’m a big fan of the Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine. Parents can easily program the machine via the Hatch Baby Rest app on their phones, for one thing. And it’s more than a white noise machine — it’s also a night light! Other features I like include the two-way audio monitor that’s built-in, allowing you to check on your baby while they sleep, and the “toddler lock,” which makes sure if it gets bumped, the settings won’t change.
The Best High-End White Noise Machine: Sound Oasis S-5000
This one is fully-loaded. The Sound Oasis S-5000 isn’t just a white noise machine, it also has an AM/FM radio, iPhone jack, and three powerful speakers, including a rear subwoofer. There are also 145 sound options to choose from, allowing you to create the ideal sleep environment.
The Best Multi-Function White Noise Machine: Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine
The iHome Zenergy machine is the best bang for your buck in my eyes. The machine offers 10 soothing sounds to pick from, including “ocean,” “zen” and white noise. It also has 11 light therapy patterns, guiding you through one stage of sleep to the next by shifting between colors. It’s Bluetooth-enabled, too, allowing you to take speakerphone calls or change the radio station directly from its app.
The Best Decorative Multi-Function White Noise Machine: Zenergy Himalayan Salt Rock Lamp
It’s tough to beat the look of Zenergy’s Himalayan Salt Rock Lamp. The lamp illuminates a radiant burnt orange glow when it’s activated, easily separating itself from the rest of the machines you’ll find. And if someone walks into your room, it looks like a beautiful decorative rock you took back with you from a trip to the Himalayas (without having to travel all the way to Nepal).
The Best White Noise Machine for Travel: Manta Sleep Machine
I don’t go anywhere on the road without my Manta Sleep Machine. It’s small, it’s square shape fits perfectly into my carry-on, and on top of that, it’s versatile, with 40 different sounds to choose from. If you’re feeling like taking a break from white noise, be sure to try out the campfire setting.
Hopefully, by now, I’ve convinced you a white noise machine is a good investment. Sure, it can be a big help when it comes to sleeping through fireworks as we approach Independence Day, but they’re useful year-round. The data is clear: white noise will help you sleep better and longer, no matter what loud and alarming sounds pop up during the night. If you end up buying one of the machines we just covered, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.