The best sound machines
- When you've got a sound machine, noisy nights don't have to equal a lack of sleep.
- Many sound machines incorporate several white noise variations in the form of nature sounds, such as wind, waves, rain, or burbling streams.
- Of all the sound machines we researched, the Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sound Machine is our favorite because it eases your way into a refreshing night of deep sleep with many different customizable sounds.
The dog next door is barking, someone nearby is beeping their horn, your significant other is snoring like a chainsaw, and you're staring at the ceiling in frustration rather than sleeping soundly. Or maybe it's not you having trouble sleeping. Instead, your baby or young child wakes up at every sound, which means that in turn, they wake you up with their unhappiness.
Noise - it's hard to escape, especially at those times you'd most like a little peace and quiet. And that's exactly why sound machines, also called white noise machines or sound therapy machines, were invented.
These handy devices aren't intended to play so loudly that they overwhelm outside disruptions. Instead, they work with your brain's natural tendency to mostly notice new or variable sounds while tuning out steady, repetitious noise. That's why people who live near freeways or in big cities tend to "get used to" steady traffic sounds, yet awaken when a taxi blares its horn, a helicopter flies overhead, or a dog suddenly barks.
White noise machines, with their soft, steady, repeating loops of sound, help mask sudden or unusual noise, thus lulling your brain into relaxation, and eventually, sweet sweet sleep. Of course, really loud or irregular noise, such as your baby's crying, is still going to break through, but in general, you'll sleep far more soundly with white noise playing in the background than without.
What is white noise?
If you're old enough, you probably remember the sound of static after a television station went off the air for the night or the hissing sound between radio stations. That's the sound of true white noise. It's made up of all the frequencies audible to the human ear playing all at once and at the same intensity. With no variation entering your ears, your brain interprets the sound as a steady hiss.
But white isn't the only "color" of sound. There's also pink noise, which is white noise, but with the higher frequencies somewhat muted. This makes it more soothing than white noise. If you've ever peacefully fallen asleep to the sound of steady rain, you've enjoyed pink noise.
Brown noise is another popular variation of multi-frequency sound. It's basically pink noise with even more muting of the highest frequencies. It's also found in the natural world. Think of waves crashing on the shoreline or the sound of high winds.
Many sound machines incorporate several white noise variations in the form of nature sounds, such as wind, waves, rain, or burbling streams.
Here at Insider Picks, we take our sleep seriously. That's why we've analyzed information on the many sound machines available and whittled the choices down to the ones we feel are best.
Here are the best sound machines you can buy:
- Best sound machine overall: Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sound Machine
- Best white noise sound machine: LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine
- Best budget sound machine: Big Red Rooster Sound Machine
- Best sound machine for travel: Homedics Portable White Noise Sound Machine
- Best sound machine for babies: WavHello SoundBub White Noise Machine and Speaker
- Best sound machine for kids: Bubzi Co Sleep Soother
Updated on 10/22/2019 by Lisa Sabatini: Updated prices, links, and formatting.
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