Falling asleep can be hard. A white-noise machine creates a consistent, soothing background noise that can help you drift off to sleep, especially if you're easily disturbed by background noises around the house or out on the street.
Basic white-noise machines produce white noise only, while more advanced options offer a range of sounds — but which is right for you? Consider what you want from a white-noise machine and you'll soon be lulled to sleep with soothing sounds.
Some white-noise machines use recordings of white noise, while others contain a fan or other moving parts to create natural white noise. Because there's no looping or repetition, some people find it easier to fall asleep to natural white noise. On the other hand, machines that use recorded white noise are more versatile because they often contain several types of white-noise sounds and sometimes other types of sounds as well.
Although you can find sound machines that exclusively play white noise, many play other sounds too. Some offer different colors of noise — such as pink noise that's found in nature in the sounds of wind, steady rain and rustling leaves, or brown noise created by thunder and heavy waterfalls.
If you choose a white-noise machine that uses recorded sound, at some point, the recording will need to loop back around to the beginning, which can be jarring when you're trying to fall asleep. How noticeable this is depends on a range of factors.
Length is a major factor — if the recording is 10 minutes long, looping will be much less noticeable than if it’s 30 seconds long. Some machines design loops that have no perceivable cut when they loop. The most advanced sound machines blend a couple of noises or use accent sounds, which differ each time so no recording ever sounds exactly the same.
If you're interested only in white noise, this is the ideal option. It contains a fan that creates a natural white noise — so there's no need to worry about looping or repetition. It has two speed settings, each providing a slightly different tone. It's great for fans of classic white noise, but some buyers prefer more variety.
This affordable white-noise machine offers a range of recorded sounds, including fans, rain, train sounds and ocean waves. It's aimed at babies and kids — with a built-in night light and a range of lullaby sounds — but it has plenty to offer for adults too. You can leave it running until you switch it off, or choose from four timer options between 1 and 4 hours.
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With five options in addition to white noise — ocean, rain, brook, thunder and summer night — this sound machine gives users a decent choice of nature sounds without being overwhelming. It's easy to use, with a button for each sound, plus simple volume buttons and a timer.
Creating natural white noise with the help of a fan, this machine is perfect for anyone who finds repetition of recorded sounds bothersome. In addition to having two speed settings for different tones, you can adjust the amount of air that comes out of the holes, which changes both the volume and the quality of the sound.
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Although it might be considered overkill, this unit is extremely versatile. It links to an app, so you can play from a huge library of sounds, including various types of white and colored noise, nature sounds and sleep stories. The built-in sunrise alarm clock makes waking up easier too.
This is an excellent choice for anyone who likes white and other colors of noise but finds white-noise machines with real fans limiting. This one offers 10 digitally reproduced fan sounds plus 10 white-noise sounds and colored-noise variations, including pink and brown. It uses special technology to make sure the sounds are continuous rather than looping or repeating. You can adjust the volume from whisper quiet up to far louder than a white-noise machine that uses a fan.
If you like the sounds of a natural white-noise machine but want more variation, take a closer look at this model. It offers digital recordings of four classic sounds from the original Yogasleep Dohm machine, plus other fan sounds, nature noises and more. It's simple to switch among sounds and adjust the volume.
An updated version of a natural white-noise machine, this model uses a real fan to create white noise but is fully adjustable with 10 tone and volume settings. You can use it with an optional companion app that lets you adjust volume settings from your phone or tablet, as well as schedule a timer and activate the built-in night light.
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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.