You’ve probably heard that white noise machines and sleep music can help infants fall and stay asleep. But do sound machines really help adults sleep, too?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, your brain continues to process sounds as you sleep, regardless of whether you’re three years old or thirty. As a result, noises in the night can easily disturb you, especially during the second half of the night or right after you’ve fallen asleep. Even if you don’t wake up, sounds may cause you to experience a change in heart rate or blood pressure, or just make you toss and turn — leaving you feeling groggy and tired the next morning.
How does a sound machine help you sleep?
Sound machines and white noise machines work by establishing a constant noise for you to fall asleep to — and stay asleep to. Because this noise is already whirring or jingling in the background, it masks any new noises (like closing doors or running faucets), making them less likely to upset your rest.
Not all background sounds are created equal, however. Sleeping with a sound machine or with white noise is good for you, but external noise that comes from the TV, for example, can actual damage the quality of your sleep. Sound often spikes during TV shows, and these peaks of noise are what pull us from our slumber. This is why sleep machines that create white noise and rain sounds or play soft music have become so popular: they establish a constant, soothing noise that can help us fall (and stay) fast asleep.
Best sound machines for sleep
Whether you sleep better with white noise, nature sounds or deep sleep music, there’s a sound machine on the market that will help you catch more z’s in no time. Here are three that we recommend for all types of sleepers:
HoMedics is a leader in sleep noise machines, and its HDS-1000 Deep Sleep White Noise Machine is an impressive option for struggling sleepers. The white noise device lets you choose from four digitally recorded relaxing white noise tones, ranging from soft rain sounds to deep tones, perfect for tinnitus sufferers. You can also customize each tone by tuning it using the dial on the machine. Small and sleek, the device easily fits on a nightstand or desk. HoMedics also offers a more portable option, priced at $30 that can help you sleep easy on the road.
If you’re not sure what kind of white noise sound will help you sleep best, the LectroFan is your best option. This versatile sound machine comes with 20 different digital sound profiles: 10 fan sounds and 10 ambient noise (white noise) variations. Compact and unobtrusive, the LectroFan is almost small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, though powerful enough to create sounds louder than any mechanical fan-based conditioner. This sound-masking white noise machine also comes with a handy auto-off timer if you don’t want those soothing sounds running through the night.
While it’s not the prettiest sound machine on the market, the Marpac DOHM is a classic for a reason. This white noise product has been around since 1962, when it was originally sold as the Sleep-Mate (or Sleepmate). It’s been impressing sleepers ever since, offering fan-based natural white noise that you can tune to your preference. The experts seem to like it, too; it was chosen as the official sound machine of the National Sleep Foundation. Unlike the other two products on this list, however, it does not have a built-in sleep timer, instead running all night.
Sleep machines for babies
New parents know how important it is that your baby can sleep soundly — both for them and for you. Once your child no longer needs to wake up every few hours, they may still need help staying asleep through the night. This is when some parents turn to a white noise machine for help instead of a Bluetooth speaker and a white noise app.
Sound machines have been shown to help babies fall asleep, particularly during otherwise noisy times of the day. Some machines even have a setting that mimics a mother’s heartbeat, which can be quiet soothing. However, you’ll need to make sure the machine is quiet enough so as not to disturb their sensitive ears. Start your search with the three noise-masking products below, which were specifically designed for infants.
Another product from Marpac, the Hushh has a number of features designed to help your soothe your baby. This sound machine has three gentle noise settings: bright white noise, deep white noise, and gentle surf, which you can listen to samples of on the Marpac website. It’s also designed with a warm amber LED nightlight and a child-proof volume button, meaning your little one won’t accidentally blast the volume if they grab onto the device. One of the most useful aspects of the Hushh is its portability; the baby-safe clip lets you easily attach the machine to a stroller or car seat, helping you block surrounding noises and disruptions on the go.
Developed by MyBaby, the SoundSpa is tailor-made for restless babies (and their sleep-deprived parents). It’s filled to the brim with features that infants will love. In addition to customizable white noise and a unique ocean setting, the sound machine has a lullaby function that plays Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star and a heartbeat setting that is meant to replicate sounds heard in the womb. While its simple design means you won’t be bragging about its aesthetic qualities, the SoundSpa is affordably priced at $24 and provides many options for families.
Like the original SoundSpa, the SoundSpa Lullaby from MyBaby has numerous sound options: heartbeat, gentle rain, and ocean waves. Its lullaby repertoire is improved over the original, however, with added tunes like Rock-A-Bye Baby and Brahms‘ Cradle Song. As your child drifts off to sleep, the machine can also project soft images onto the wall or ceiling of the nursery, acting as a deluxe nightlight. While you may not end up using all the bells and whistles of the SoundSpa Lullaby, you can rest easy knowing they’re always ready at the touch of a button.
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