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The 8 Best White Noise Machines to Help You Sleep

You're basically fighting noise with noise.

best white noise machines

As part of your effort to get a better night's sleep, you changed your bed sheets, you switched up your pillows and you even got a whole new mattress. Except none of those bedroom upgrades can mute your neighbor's music from playing late into the night or drown out the sound of the dog barking down the street. Maybe it's time to try a white noise machine.

White noise machines are designed to play sounds to help drown out the noises that are keeping you up out night. But white noise isn't all they play, with some machines playing any range of noises to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. So if things that go bump in the night are keeping you awake, get one of these white noise machines to help you get a better night's rest.

      What Is White Noise?

      "White noise is essentially noise from the entire sounds spectrum and serves as a filter or a shield for auditory interruptions to your sleep," says Abhinav Singh, M.D., the medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center. Basically, every frequency of sound is played simultaneously at exactly the same intensity to mask undesirable sounds. (If you haven't heard white noise before, it sounds like radio static.) Fun fact: It's called "white noise" because it's similar to how white light is a combination of all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum. Besides white noise, there's also pink noise and brown noise.

      White noise: All sound frequencies played at equal intensity. Real life comparisons: radio static, a whirring fan or a hissing radiator.

      Pink noise: Lower sound frequencies are played louder, and higher frequencies are played more quietly. Real life comparisons: rainfall, rustling dry leaves or a sweeping broom

      Brown noise: Lower sound frequencies are played at an even louder intensity than pink noise. Real life comparisons: crashing waves, stomach growling or a waterfall.

      What to Look For in a White Noise Machine

      Find a white noise machine that can be tailored to play a sound that's soothing to you. Singh recommends that a white noise machine should have a range of frequencies and a built-in timer, and if you're unsure what noise is best for you, find a sound machine that plays a variety of sounds. Check to see if your white noise machine has to be plugged in or runs on a battery, especially if you're interested in portability. Once you have your white noise machine, it's important to not rely 100 percent on it. "Make it a part of your sleep ritual. [Use] a timer so that it can shut off after while, and to see if one can reduce the reliance on this device down the road."

      Why Can't I Use a White Noise App on My Phone?

      As soon as you pick up your phone to turn on a white noise app, it "may tempt you to be on your phone for longer and thereby reducing sleep time," Singh says. Those who are confident they can turn on their white noise app without getting distracted by other things, a white noise app might be perfectly fine. However, some folks who like fan sounds may enjoy the sound of an actual fan sound machine than one that plays a digital fan sound. But to totally avoid the phone distractions, go for a white noise machine.

      I Have a Voice Assistant. Can I Use That?

      Those who own a Google Home or Amazon Alexa device already have free access to white noise, effectively turning those devices into white noise machines. You can download Sleep Sounds to your Alexa-enabled device for free, which gives you the ability to play dozens of soothing sounds for up to 10 uninterrupted hours. You can even tell Alexa when to shut off the noise. Google Home users have the same opportunity with their devices, and voice commands for sounds ranging from white noise to fireplace sounds can be found on Google's support page.

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      How We Tested
      white noise machines
      Gear Patrol Staff

      Our testers were tasked with using their white noise machines before and during their sleep. Sounds were evaluated for their clarity and effectiveness, and testers were free to explore every and all feature on their machines. Some, like the Hatch Restore, have more functionality than being a simple noise machine, while others, like the Dohm, were more limited in their capabilities. Another important factor in testing these sound machines was its appearance. Despite some of our picks having exceptional functionality, they also look slightly archaic. If looks are the most important thing to you, we recommend not judging these sound machines by their cover.

      Best Overall White Noise Machine
      LectroFan Evo
      Now 42% off
      Best Splurge White Noise Machine
      Hatch Restore
      Best Budget White Noise Machine
      HoMedics White Noise Sound Machine
      Best White Noise Machine for Fan Sounds
      Marpac Yogasleep Dohm
      Best White Noise Machine for Nature Sounds
      Best White Noise Machine for Travel
      Sweet ZZZ White Noise Machine
      Best Multifunctional White Noise Machine
      Best Looking White Noise Machine
      The Best Headphones To Help You Sleep Through the Night
      bose sleepbuds ii

      Sleep headphones have been specifically designed and engineered to help you fall asleep and stay on your ears at night.


      Tyler Chin is Gear Patrol’s Associate Staff Writer.
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