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White noise machines help block out environmental sounds, which helps some people sleep. Some people also use white noise machines to help them focus or to soothe infants.
This article will discuss the benefits of white noise machines, some white noise machines to consider, and whether or not there are any risks associated with using them. It will also look at other methods of promoting restful sleep.
Please note that no one at Medical News Today, including the writer, has tried or tested any of the products in this article.
White noise machines may help promote restful sleep, improve cognitive ability, and help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) focus on tasks.
One 2016 study into the effect of white noise on patients in coronary care found that white noise machines helped the participants block out environmental noise. White noise also reduced the amount of time it took for them to fall asleep and increased the quality and length of sleep.
A 2017 study found that the use of white noise in learning exercises helped adults with no health or cognitive conditions recall and retain new words when compared with adults who did not use a white noise machine. This suggests that white noise machines may improve cognitive performance.
Also, a small study from 2020 found that white noise at 75 decibels helped elementary school students with ADHD focus in class and promoted better sleeping practices at home — even if the white noise only played during class times.
The sections below will list six of the best white noise machines and what their benefits and drawbacks are.
LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Sound Machine
This white noise machine helps block environmental noises, such as snoring, so that people can sleep without any disturbances. It creates non-repeating sounds, including 10 different fan sounds and 10 ambient noise variations.
This model has precise volume controls so that people can set it at the perfect level for them, and it also has a sleep timer. People can power this white noise machine with an AC adaptor or USB cable.
Reviewers say that this portable white noise machine effectively blocks sounds such as snoring, storms, and other environmental noises. However, there is not a display to tell people which sounds are currently playing.
LectroFan Micro2 Sleep Sound Machine
This white noise machine is one of the smallest on the market, measuring 2 by 2.1 inches and weighing only 6.4 ounces. It is suitable for small spaces, such as office cubicles, or for use while traveling.
This product uses a USB connection and internal rechargeable lithium batteries for power. It can also connect to devices via Bluetooth.
The Micro2 Sleep Sound Machine includes five fan noise settings, four white noise settings, and two ocean noise settings. According to reviews, the sound quality is good considering the size of the speaker.
Reviewers also state that this product helps them sleep and block out noise while traveling. However, when connecting their own music to the machine, they say that the sound quality is slightly worse.
HoMedics White Noise Sound Machine
This product is one of the most affordable white noise machines available. It is compact and portable, so people can take it wherever they go. It includes six different sounds: white noise, thunder, ocean, rain, summer night, and brook.
This product includes an auto-off timer so that people can choose to turn off the sounds after 15, 30, or 60 minutes. People can either plug this product into a wall outlet or use four AA batteries (which are not included) to power it.
Reviewers say that this product has a good volume range, and that it is very easy to use. However, it may not last as long as some of the more expensive options on the market. Some reviewers also had difficulty keeping the batteries in the battery compartment.
Adaptive Sound Technologies Sound + Sleep SE Special Edition
This product is one of the more expensive white noise machines available. It has adaptive sound technology, which means that it automatically adjusts the volume to drown out any environmental noises while switched on.
This white noise machine includes 64 non-repeating sounds. People can also use the device to play their own music. It includes a sleep timer that turns the machine off automatically after 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes. It also has dual USB power ports and a headphone jack.
Reviewers say that this product effectively blocks out background noises, with one reviewer saying that it helps with their tinnitus. Others have said that the noises help their dogs during fireworks and storms.
However, some people have noticed that not all sounds are immediately available, and that they have had to perform factory resets to be able to use all 64 sounds.
Munchkin Sound Asleep Nursery Projector and Sound Machine with LED Nightlight
This product aims to help infants and young children get to sleep. As well as white noise, it includes the sounds of a heartbeat, the ocean, two lullabies, and two Mozart compositions.
It can also project three different images onto the wall, including rainforest and ocean scenes. People can set this machine to turn off automatically after 15, 30, or 60 minutes.
Reviewers say that this product is effective in keeping infants and young children asleep, and that their children like the images that the machine projects. It is also small and compact.
However, some people say that the images are not smooth and tend to shake every few seconds.
HoMedics SoundSpa Ultra-Portable Rechargeable Sound Machine
The HoMedics SoundSpa machine is one of the most portable options available. It contains rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, allowing people to use the machine for up to 12 hours before having to recharge it.
This product includes 12 different sounds, including fan, ocean, rainforest, thunderstorm, white noise, and campfire. This product also has a timer so that people can set it to turn off after a certain amount of time.
Reviewers say that this machine is long lasting and effectively blocks out environmental sounds. They also state that the machine holds its charge well. However, this model cannot plug into a power outlet.
Although white noise can be beneficial, people should be careful about the volume of the white noise coming from their machine, particularly if they are using it to soothe infants.
A 2014 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that white noise machines regularly emit noise at a high enough level to cause hearing damage in infants. This level of noise may also affect aspects of development, such as speech and language development.
As a result, the AAP recommend that parents and caregivers use white noise machines:
- at the lowest volume setting
- for short periods of time
- at a distance, placing the machine as far away from the infant as possible
White noise machines with sleep timers can help people automatically switch off the noise once an infant falls asleep.
Adults should not increase the volume of a white noise machine to more than 70 decibels. Any sound over 85 decibels can damage hearing over time.
In addition to a white noise machine, a person can try other methods for inducing sleep, such as:
- going to bed at the same time each day
- doing something relaxing before bed, such as taking a warm bath
- using blackout blinds or curtains to block light from the room
- minimizing background noise or disturbances
- soundproofing the bedroom, if necessary
If a person cannot sleep due to another member of the household snoring, they may find earplugs helpful. People can reduce the chance of snoring by avoiding alcohol before bed and sleeping on their back. Sleeping on the side or with the head slightly elevated may also help.
White noise machines can help improve sleep quality and improve focus in both adults and children. There are a number of white noise machines available, with a variety of additional features, including sleep timers, nature sounds, and portability.
However, although white noise machines can be beneficial, they may cause hearing damage if a person uses them for long periods of time. They can also exceed the volume limits that experts recommend for infants. Therefore, use white noise machines at a low volume and place the device far away from the bed or crib.