We live in a world that is constantly filled with activity. For some people, it is difficult to settle down to the point that they can get a good night’s rest. It may seem impossible to relax. You may feel that it is because the bed is not comfortable enough or you simply aren’t tired enough to sleep.
However, the truth is, it could be the things your subconscious mind hears when you are trying to relax and sleep. Your partner snoring throughout the night or cars driving by outside could be causing more issues than you realize. That is why many people are choosing to purchase a white noise machine, to see if it helps them get a full night’s sleep or if they need to look further into their sleep issues. To discover whether white noise machines will help you get through the night and feel more rested during the day, we invite you to read everything there is to know about them, including our top 5 choices for best white noise machines.
What is a White Noise Machine?
A white noise machine is a device that creates a steady sound. The steady sound that it produces will work to mask or block out sounds that may interrupt your sleep. For instance, if you are resting in a quiet room and a dog begins barking outside of your window, you may get woke up. However, if you have a constant noise, such as a loud fan blowing, and the dog barks loudly, it will not wake you because your mind will associate it with background noise. Your brain will not interpret the noise as an annoyance or be startled by it. The white noise machine creates the consistent sounds, so that your mind has something to focus on. If it is turned up loud enough to make other noises blend into the background; you will be able to rest easier.
There are machines that sound like waves crashing against the shore or birds chirping. There are even machines that mimic the sound of a heart beating so that your subconscious mind can focus on the calming and relaxing noises instead of the hustle and bustle around you. In other cases, it may be that you need the sound of traffic or music to sleep better, especially if you use to live in a city and are visiting or now live in the country. There are white noise machines that can provide these sounds as well. Their only purpose is to provide a soothing sound that your mind can “listen to” and by doing so, other sounds become less noticeable or offensive to your sleep.
The Benefits of a White Noise Machine
Have you ever heard someone, or perhaps you have noticed, that they sleep better with a fan running? The simple truth is, a fan is a consistent noise that their body needs in order to relax. Often those people will say that the louder the fan is, the better they will sleep, but if you add in a rocky ceiling fan, they will not be able to sleep at all. This is because the noise suddenly becomes inconsistent and their ears pick up on it. It is the same with people who claim they need complete silence to sleep. If you enjoy complete silence and end up sleeping in a room with a ticking clock, the clock will keep you awake, even if it is a consistent sound that never changes. It isn’t the noise that will keep you awake, it is the inconsistency in the noise that your ears pick up on and your mind says, “There is something different here. Wake up.”
The idea of counteracting this with more noise may seem like a strange concept, but it is effective for many people who suffer from poor sleep habits. The white noise machine creates a steady noise. If you turn it up, it will mask all potentially inconsistent noises so that you can sleep soundly throughout the entire night. This means that if you are listening to a white noise and someone drops a dish in the other room or a dog suddenly starts barking, your brain will not alert you. It will simply become a part of the background noise that is already there. This is ideal for people who need to sleep during the daytime when household noises are happening constantly and for people who live in large cities where sudden, potentially very loud noises, occur throughout the day and night.
In short, you can use white noises to trick your mind into relaxing. It gives your subconscious mind a sound that it can become accustomed to. Then, as long as it is hearing that noise more prevalent than all others, you will be able to sleep more soundly and everyone knows that getting a good night’s sleep is important for all people, both young and old.
White Noise and Infants
Every new parent can tell you that infants are plagued by sleep issues. That is why so many parents are excited by the idea of one day having their infant sleep through the night. Most new parents are excited when their infant sleeps more than a couple hours at a time. The truth is, it is not the infant’s fault. When a baby is born, they are used to loud noises all around them. This is because there is always a constant noise within their mommy’s womb. They hear a heart beating, they hear belly and intestinal noises, they hear their mommy talking, and water moving around. When they are born, they have no real idea of what normal sleep habits are. They do not understand that day is for play and night is for sleep. The connection isn’t something they can put together for at least the first couple months of life.
Newborns also have a startle reflex that is triggered by sudden, loud noises or twitching nerves. This is because of their immature nervous system. It is not something they can control, but anyone who has ever had a baby in the house knows that startles are a frequent occurrence.
That is why swaddling during naptime is great for some babies. It may not stop them from waking up, but it does stop them from involuntarily twitching. You may also try a white noise if you are having a hard time getting your infant to sleep soundly. Again, white noise may not stop them from waking up, but it could help to ensure that sudden noises do not wake them.
White noise has been recommended for infants and toddlers a lot in the past. Many pediatricians say that if you have a child who isn’t able to sleep well during daytime naps, you should turn on a static station on your television or turn on a vacuum cleaner. The noise blocks out other potential noises that you may make while your little one is sleeping so that they are not disturbed. A white noise machine does the same thing, but it is not as loud as a vacuum cleaner. Therefore, it can be used comfortably by adults and children both day and night, whenever a good rest is needed.
Why Is a Good Night’s Sleep So Important?
You may think that you are resting well enough without a white noise machine, but most of us are not getting the sleep that our body really needs to live a healthy life. If you were to use a sleep tracker each night, you may notice that even though the clock says you are sleeping a full 8-hours each night, your body spends enough time tossing and turning and that you are only getting a couple hours of deep sleep. Deep sleep is the time when your body is completely relaxed and you are not tossing and turning.
The fact that you are only getting a couple straight hours may not seem like a big deal to you, but your body is taking a hit each night that you are not sleeping properly. This can decrease your memory function, your creativity, your energy level, and your overall performance when exercising or working. It can make you appear older than you are and raise the protein level in your blood. Some people also have an increase in their weight when they are unable to sleep the recommended amount nightly. Your stress level goes up when you aren’t well rested, your chances of depression increase, and you stand a much higher chance of being involved in a vehicle accident.
As you can see, even if you feel fine, your body may not be getting the rest that it needs and its impacts can be much more than bags under your eyes and yawning. It is truly beneficial to your health if you get the recommended amount of sleep. The same is true for children as well, because if they are not well rested, their grades will drop and they are more at risk for ADHD.
See more: Top Mattress for Good Night’s Sleep
Our Top 5 Best White Noise Machine Choices
Due to the fact that the idea of white noise is still a new concept for most people, we went in search of the best machines available on today’s market. It is here that we will give you an idea of what types of white noise machines are available and what their owners have to say about them. In our top five, you will find our favorites. These machines have high ratings by most of the people who own them and they are machines that have been purchased by many people who, like you, were having trouble sleeping and wanted to find a better way to get their rest.
Marpac Dohm-DS All Natural Sound Machine
More than 10,000 people have used this white noise sound machine and it still holds a 4.4-star rating. It is approved of and used by the National Sleep Foundation. It has two speeds thanks to a dual speed motor. It has a fan inside of it and an acoustic housing around it to provide the sound of rushing air, but it does not give off actual moving air. This makes it ideal for people who need a fan, but not the breeze during the wintertime. It has a one year warranty. Most people say that it is a great product, but there are a few people who have had issues with it. Some say that it is ideal for masking only softer noises. There are also several people who have had to return it because of a chemical smell or the unit smoking. The warranty covers this issue, but some people feel it is too risky to attempt to purchase another one like it, even though they admit to loving it before it became defective.
LectroFan-White Noise Machine
This white noise machine gives you the option of 20 sleep therapy sound options and after more than 5,000 reviews it maintains a rating of 4.7-stars. It has a sound setting that is great for blocking out noises to create a great sleeping or studying area. It also ensures that noisy neighbors and close construction worksites no longer bother you when you are relaxing at home. It has a total of 10 white noise options and 10 various fan sounds to help your entire family relax. It is even ideal for baby’s nurseries. People who live at home with parents or work in overcrowded offices feel that they gained privacy by having this machine turned on. Of the very few negative reviews, you will see that it has stopped working or malfunctioned a few times. They also reveal that it only has a 30-day return policy on it, so they end up stuck with a broken machine. However, there are only 2% of people that have had this issue and therefore it is perhaps noteworthy, but does not prove it is a poor quality sound machine.
Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine
This white noise machine is designed for babies, but usable by anyone. It has 12 sounds to lull a little one to sleep and a soft glow nightlight. There is also an MP3 plug-in to allow you to play your baby’s most favorite songs, or yours if you want to use it. It has a built-in timer so that you can have it turn off automatically. It has an overall rating of 4.2 after more than 1,000 reviews. It is another product that people say suddenly stopped working after the return policy period ended, but most admit that it started making odd noises long before the 90 days was up and they ignored it. You shouldn’t ignore odd noises. If you catch the noise before the return policy ends, Graco will honor their return policy. You can return it and perhaps become one of many other very satisfied parents and babies.
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Homedics HDS-2000 Deep Sleep II Relaxation Sound and White Noise Machine
With this one sleep therapy machine, you can choose from four white noise tones, four water tones, and four nature tones. It is a simple, elegantly designed dual speaker. There are bass sounds to completely fill any room with sound. It has a remote control to make it easy for you to control the sounds you are hearing and the base of the unit has a lighted LCD screen where you can easily see the volume and tone. Overall, most people like this machine. They love the sound quality, the lighted LCD screen, the remote control, and all other features of it. However, there may be a few problems with it. The volume control is kind of lacking in some cases and many people have had issues with it suddenly cutting off on them. This could be a case of they have the sleep timer set wrong, but it is noteworthy to mention it. It is one of the newer white noise machines available so perhaps more people will say that they love it, but as of right now, it may have a few disadvantages.
Adaptive Sound Technologies-Sound+Sleep, Sleep Therapy System
If you want to ensure you have a good night’s sleep, you may enjoy owning this white noise machine, which has an overall rating of 4-stars. It features 10+ natural sound stories that were captured from natural outdoor environments, non-repeating fans sounds, and white noise sounds. It uses a patented technology that automatically adjusts the sound of the noise based on the noise levels inside of your home. This means if something gets louder around you, the noise machine will adjust to ensure you stay asleep. It also has a sleep timer, which will automatically turn off the noise when you are sleeping if you want it to. People who live in apartments and those who live in cities both agree that the automatically adjustable volume is a blessing for them. The biggest complaint by the current owners is that they wish it had more sound features for them. Some people have had issues with a crackling noise after a few months of using it. Many people state that they contacted customer support and found it helpful. They received a new sound card for the machine. Others didn’t contact customer care and the unit eventually will stop working.
How to Choose the Right White Noise Machine?
Before you think about which machine is best, you need to consider the type of noise that you want to hear or plan to pick a white noise machine that offers multiple options. True white noise is an electronically created sound that contains high-frequency sounds. It is the sounds you hear on a static television channel or on the radio when you listen to a station that is no longer broadcasting. They are not always enjoyable to listen to. Other forms of white noise are more of a constant sound that is unchanging. This could be crickets chirping and crackling campfire sounds, jungle or ocean sounds, air conditioning units or fans, crowd noises, and traffic sounds. Most people who want “white noise” are truly hoping to find a peaceful “natural” sound over the true white noise sounds. These natural sounds often make it easier for the person to fall asleep.
Other considerations may be the size of the machine. In most cases, people want to put a white noise machine near their bed and on a nightstand. If you are considering a machine that is too large to fit in your available space, you may not be satisfied with the noise that it generates. You want a machine that is easy to use and operate. Having multiple settings may sound great, but if it is not easy to get to your favorite white noise sounds, you may get frustrated enough to skip using it. No one wants to own a machine that is unusable. You do not want to have to struggle to get it set up when you are trying to wind down and get ready for the night ahead.
Will Music Work as White Noise?
Many people feel that sleeping with a television or radio on is good enough for them. In some ways, this is true. There are studies that prove music is effective in improving sleep quality, but it is not as dependable as a white noise. It does not have the range of frequencies that will enable it to mask sounds that may interrupt your sleep. Music is also likely to wake up your mind and make you remember moments in your life or stimulate an emotional response that will keep you awake. This is counterproductive. Instead of using music to sleep by, using it for relaxation is best.
On the other hand, a television is perhaps one of the biggest “no-no’s” according to many sleep studies. The flickering of a television can destroy all potential sleep quality that they may gain. The noises are too varied and even on a static station, the flickering will register in your mind and keep you awake. Considering your first goal in choosing white noise is to build a more relaxing sleep environment, you don’t want to do anything that may disrupt it. That is why, according to most people who study sleep issues, recommend that even if you feel the television makes you sleep better, you try to avoid it and use white noises instead.
Should You Give White Noise a Try?
Most people in today’s world could benefit from a better night’s sleep. If you feel that it takes you a while to relax enough at night to fall asleep, then white noise may be helpful. It is beneficial to anyone who goes to bed tired and then lies awake thinking about all that they should have done that day or all that they need to do the next day. People who suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears) can be helped by a white noise machine that will make the ringing sound a part of the background sounds they are already listening to. It can help you if you have a partner that snores or you wake up feeling more tired than when you went to bed. In short, if you have any thoughts about whether you are getting the sleep that you need or not, chances are good, you aren’t sleeping well enough. Therefore, you should give white noise a try to see if can truly improve the way you feel.
How to Start Using White Noise to Improve Sleep Quality
Any new sound that you attempt to sleep through may first cause you to have difficulty falling asleep. Think about the ticking clock that would keep you awake when you first got it or how loud that new fan sounded when you first put it into your room. White noise is the same thing. At first, it may seem like a disturbance for your mind. Therefore, when you first use it, you should start it out at a lower volume. This will give your mind a chance to become used to it. After a few days of listening to it at a low volume, comfortable setting, you can increase it. You should work up to having it loud enough to block noise that may be right outside of your window.
The most important thing is your comfort level. If you turn it on and find that you are not able to sleep with the amount of white noise you hear, turn it down. Most all machines have a volume level so that you can set it where it is most comfortable for you. You may also want to test it by recording a dog barking or vehicles going down the road outside your home. Set your recording device outside of your room and turn it up to make it loud and then see what the ideal volume for your white noise machine to mask the sound is going to be. In a busy city, avoid the recording and just try to turn up the volume on your machine until it is loud enough that you are unable to hear the daytime noise. This may not be the volume you want to start out sleeping with, but it can tell you the amount of sound that you need to try and work up to sleeping with.
Some people may also set up their white noise machine so that it is on during the day so that their mind can get used to the noise that it produces. That way, when they lay down to go to bed at night, their mind is already used to hearing it. Again, it may not make it easy to fall asleep, even though your mind is already accustomed to the noise, but it may enable you to turn it up to a higher volume faster, which in turn will ensure that outside noises are less bothersome sooner.
Is It Safe to Sleep with White Noise?
With the growing popularity of machines that produce white noise, there is a growing concern that they are not as good as they should be. Many parents worry about their infant’s ears and adults who sleep with white noise also worry about the potential damage to their hearing. After all, it is a machine that is supposed to be turned up loud enough to block outside noises.
The truth is, there are some white noise machines that can produce sounds that are louder than 85 decibels. This is safe for work environments, but most places with this much noise require people to wear headphones to protect their ears. Even newborns in a nursery can be exposed to noises that are nearly 50 decibels. This proves that most machines are safe to use, but there are limits. If you are using a white noise machine in an infant’s nursery, you may want to keep the volume at a comfortable level for them. This could mean you avoid turning it up to more than 30 decibels. More importantly though, is that you may want to take advantage of sleep timer during the night or just use a higher volume during nap times when there are noises in the house that may startle the infant.
If you are using it in your room, you should also avoid prolonged loud white noises. This is easier if you use the “natural sounds” option that many white noise machines offer. There is less risk for it to be too loud for you to listen to comfortably.
Other White Noise Machine Options
Some people want to simply give white noise a try without investing money into it. If this sounds like you, you will be happy to know that there are options. You can use your radio, but it is recommended that you change it to a classical station or a station that does not come in clearly. It is even better if you have an old portable radio that you can set up specifically for white noise. You can even break off the antennae to ensure no “music” comes through, but white noise is prevalent.
There are also smartphone apps that provide some white noise options. Some of them are free and some may cost you a few dollars. However, whether you pay for it or not, the white noise apps are going to be limited by your phone’s speaker volume and their overall quality is not the best in most situations.