If you’ve been having trouble getting to sleep or have been waking up throughout the night because of outside sounds and disturbances, it might be time for you to invest in a white noise machine.
For a lot of people, white noise can get them a sleep like nothing else – and considering how little sleep the average American is getting these days, there’s a good chance you need a bit of help.
That’s why we’ve put together this complete guide to the best white noise machines out there today!
What Is White Noise?
Let’s begin with the basics, here: just what, exactly, does ‘white noise’ really mean?
You’re likely most familiar with the common definition of this term.
In casual speech, ‘white noise’ just refers to any kind of monotonous background sounds – rain falling on the roof, ocean noises, etc.
The technical definition of the term, however, is a little bit more specific.
In the scientific sense, white noise is a combination of all the sounds you’re capable of hearing, just like how white light is a combination of all the colors of the rainbow.
If you’re looking for an actual white noise machine, though, there’s a good chance you’ll wind up with something that doesn’t actually meet either of these two definitions.
You see, if you actually sat and listened to all the frequencies your ear is capable of hearing, you’d wind up with a lot of really high-pitched tones that would feel incredibly grating.
Because of the way ears works, all those squeals would come out amplified in your hearing and probably give you a headache after a while.
Instead of pure white noise, you’ll probably really want to give pink noise a try.
It’s just like white noise, only all the high-pitched junk is softened, allowing for a deeper and more soothing tone – the way white noise would sound if our ears didn’t amplify those frequencies.
You can also check out Brown noise, also known as ‘red noise,’ which is softer and deeper still.
How White Noise Typically Helps with Sleep
One of the biggest advantages to ‘white noise’ (or pink noise, Brown noise, etc.) is that it tends to drown out louder noises that might otherwise disturb you in the night.
It’s just like when you’re at a loud concert and have to shout into your friend’s ear in order to make yourself heard – but when you’re in a library, even a whisper can seem startlingly loud.
Our brains work by comparing baseline levels to peak levels, so if you have a lot of sound in your environment to begin with, most disturbances won’t be enough to mess up your sleep.
It’s Also Useful in Creating a Healthy Sleep Routine
White noise can also be highly useful in creating a regular nighttime routine.
If you’re trying to get better sleep in general, you’ll find a lot of sites recommending you to develop soothing rituals that will get your body and brain ready to power down.
People thrive on routine, and by adding in a couple extra steps every night as you get ready for bed, you’ll quickly learn when you’re supposed to start feeling tired and prepared for sleep.
White noise can add on to those rituals.
Your body hears that familiar sound of white noise, and it immediately starts winding down.
It’s an easy ritual to add on since it takes no extra time, and that sense of familiarity can help if you’re having to spend the night in a different setting from normal.
If you talk to a lot of people who use these white noise machines, in fact, they’ll often tell you they can’t even get to bed these days without it!
Don’t Destroy Your Ears with White Noise When Sleeping
It might seem kind of obvious, but if you’re playing super loud white noise for 8+ hours a day 365 days a year, that can do some pretty bad things to your ears.
Although when done right, white noise is completely harmless, too-loud white noise can end up doing permanent damage.
Generally, it’s not recommended to play white noise machines at anything louder than 50 decibels.
Anything more than that, and you start playing dice with your health.
This is especially important if you’re buying a white noise machine for your baby, since babies have more sensitive ears than adults, and prolonged exposure to excessively loud noises may result in developmental issues.
When the American Academy of Pediatrics took a look at 14 different infant white noise generators, they found that these could all be played above the max recommended volume of 50 decibels.
Because of this, it’s recommended to keep white noise machines over seven feet away from your baby at a very low volume.
The same goes for adults, too!
Don’t risk your ears over a white noise machine.
There are better options!
The Top 5 White Noise Machines for Sleep
Alright, now without further ado, here they are…
They absolute best white noise machines of 2021!
|Sound+Sleep||MARPAC||Big Red Rooster||LetroFan High Fidelity||LetroFan Micro|
|Number of Sounds||30||2||6||20||10|
|Type of Sounds||10 non-repeating sleep sounds with 3 “sound stories” each||Two speeds of rushing air||Various sleep sounds||10 fan sounds, 10 varieties of white noise||5 fan sounds, 4 white noise sounds, 1 soothing ocean roar|
|Timer Settings||30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes||N/A||15, 30 or 60 minutes||60 minutes||N/A|
|Notes||High-end white noise for ultimate relaxation||Simple, no-frills||Extremely affordable||A true white noise classic||Super portable (fits in the palm of your hand)|
|Price||$69.99||$41.10||$22.99||$44.54||Out of stock!|
The Sound+Sleep Sound Machine
First up, we have the Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine.
This thing impressed us with the sheer variety of options it gives you.
The button format is simple and clear, with a total of ten different sound settings: train, meadow, ocean, fireplace, waterfall, city, rainfall, brook, meditation, and white noise.
You can also set a “sound story” at either low, medium, or high for each of these locations, which controls the amount of variation in the sounds you’re listening to.
So for instance, “low” sound story for the ocean is just the sound of waves, while high sound story includes waves, birds, seals, bells, and foghorns.
These sounds are also marketed as non-repeating, so if you’re having trouble getting to sleep, you won’t find yourself listening for the break in the recording.
As if that wasn’t enough, it also comes with a timer you can set for 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes, so you can just play it while you’re drifting off to sleep instead of having it rushing in your ears all night long.
The MARPAC Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine
Next up, we have the MARPAC Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine.
This is substantially simpler than the Sound+Sleep, working off a classic design model that hasn’t really changed much over the past several decades.
It has just one button, which allows for two different speeds on its motor.
You get the classic, soothing sounds of rushing air without having to deal with the actual coolness that comes with a fan.
There’s not really much more you can say about this product – it’s built for no-nonsense sleepers who just want a basic white noise machine to cover up random annoying sounds.
It’s easy to operate no matter how sleep deprived you are, and customers are highly satisfied with its soothing sound effects.
The Big Red Rooster White Noise Machine
The Big Red Rooster White Noise Machine, meanwhile, is the option for the shopper on a budget.
It’s by far the least expensive of the products we’ll talk about here, and the amazing thing is, it does this without sacrificing much in the way of quality.
To be sure, you’re not going to get the variety you did with the Sound+Sleep or the comfortable elegance of the MARPAC, but it’s a pretty dang solid buy.
You can select from six quality sleep sounds – rain, thunder, ocean, brook, white noise and summer night – and there’s also an optional timer you can plug in for 15, 30 or 60 minutes.
There have been some complaints about the computerized nature of its sounds, which can create an unpleasant grating sound on some people’s ears.
That said, it’s also perfect for travel, as it can be powered by either its AC adapter or three AAA batteries.
Not too shabby for something so budget-friendly!
The LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine
Another quality option is the LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine.
Like the MARPAC, this takes a pretty classic approach to white noise generation.
Rather than trying to fake it with any kind of nature noises, the LectroFan zeroes in on fan sounds and true white noise.
It comes with a total of ten different fan sounds and ten white noise varieties, including white, pink and Brown noise.
It has no moving parts, so there’s less chance of any mechanical failures, and you can power it by either AC or USB.
The LectroFan Micro Wireless Sleep Sound Machine
Finally, we finish off with another handy product from LectroFan: the LectroFan Micro Wireless Sleep Sound Machine.
It actually has a slightly smaller range of sound options than its counterpart, offering only ten soundscapes: five fan sounds, four white noise sounds, and a soothing ocean roar.
The biggest advantage to this thing, however, is its size.
This is the ideal travel white noise machine.
It can easily fit in the palm of your hand, and you can swivel the speaker on the top to direct your sound however you want.
The battery lasts for 16 hours, too – so no matter where you’re travelling, the LectroFan can be there with you.
Conclusion About The Best White Noise Machines
So there you have it – the absolute best white noise machines on the market today.
Hopefully that was helpful.
If you still have any questions feel free to leave a comment in the box below, and we’ll get back to you.
Happy shopping, and pleasant dreams!
Founder and Owner
Ted is the founder and owner of Mattress Guides and is an expert in his field. Ted believes that having the right mattress is key to getting a good night’s sleep and feeling well-rested in the morning.
Updated at November 11, 2020