Last updated on November 28th, 2023.
If you’ve been looking for a solution to your insomnia or simply a noisy street, you’ve almost certainly encountered sound machines. With so many options online, you may wonder how well these devices work and how to identify the best one for you.
Our picks for the top five sound machines for sleeping range from multi-purpose speakers you may already own, all the way to one noise machine that actually creates its sounds with a physical fan. Each sound machine has distinct features which may appeal to different individuals.
If you’re looking to narrow your search for a good noise machine, we’ve got you covered. Below we will lay out our picks for the five best sound machines on the market today and then discuss how and why sound machines can be so effective at treating insomnia. Your journey towards a better night’s sleep starts here.
What’s the Best Sound Machine for Sleeping?
The best sound machine is somewhat subjective, as are so many factors that are dependent upon the individual. We’ve outlined five questions below that will help you decide which one is best for you.
- Do you sleep best with white noise, other mechanical sounds, or sounds of nature? Many noise machines provide both options, however, if you already know that you like one way more than the other, you could potentially save money.
- Is your sound machine primarily for sleeping when you’re traveling, at home, or both? If you are going to be travelling, it’s a really good idea to look for a noise machine that has a long battery life and isn’t particularly difficult to move around or install. Two of the sound machines we will discuss below fulfill this need splendidly.
- Are you trying to mask external sounds or do you just want something that is soothing? If, for example, you live in a city and you’re trying to block out loud noises, then you’ll need a sound machine with a loud speaker. Something more mechanical like the first noise machine we will discuss, probably won’t be right for you. However, if you’re just looking at the soothing aspect of sound machines, you’ll have more options.
- How much variety do you need? You can save a considerable amount of money if you only want one kind of sound. At the same time, if you’re looking for variety, you’ll want to carefully consider the options provided on each machine.
- Is the sound machine for you or an infant? For infants you really want a low soothing sound that’s not too loud with a built in timer that way you can set it up for them ahead of time.
The Top 5 Sound Machines for Sleeping
We’ve carefully combed through customer reviews and professional suggestions to find the five best sound machines that could improve your sleep tonight. We’d like to stress however, that there really isn’t one best sound machine.
What’s best for you is highly dependent on your needs, as we’ve outlined in the previous section. As you read through our list, please make sure to browse over all of the features each machine has to offer and carefully consider which one is right for you.
Yogasleep Dohm Classic
Why have artificially created mechanical sounds when you can have the real thing? Yogasleep Dohm Classic, actually has a real fan inside of it with speeds that can easily be adjusted. The white noise created by this device is perfect for people who do best with less obtrusive sounds or are just looking to mask other mild noises.
This isn’t the prettiest device (it looks like a small smoke alarm), however it has all of its competition beat when it comes to an easy-to-understand user interface. You simply click the button on the front to adjust the volume and twist the top of the device to adjust the speed. Because it’s using an actual fan, you get a real sound you won’t find in its digital counterparts.
- Two speed options for the fan
- Adjustable tone and volume
- One year limited warranty
- Easy user interface
Lectrofan Micro 2 Sleep Sound Machine
If you want a noise machine that is easily portable but loud enough to block out most invasive noises, you can’t go wrong with the Lectrofan Micro 2 Sleep Sound Machine. This noise machine can not only generate white noise but pink and brown as well. Pink and brown noise are great for masking unwanted sounds at bedtime.
The Lectro Micro 2 is easy to travel with in large part because you can fold the speaker down and protect it with the body of the device. Though the speaker is small, don’t let it fool you, it can get quite loud if that’s what you need.
- 10 distinct fan sounds
- Two separate ocean sounds for those who favor the sounds of nature
- Bluetooth Audio streaming
- Built-in-microphone for smartphone use
- 40 hour rechargeable battery
The biggest advantage to using this noise machine is that it combines a high powered speaker, with a small portable design and a lot of battery power. This makes it perfect for travelling or using even if the power goes out.
Homedics Sound Spa
Homedics sound spa is one of the most popular options for noise machines that can be taken anywhere. It’s known for its versatility and quality. If you’re planning on using a noise machine at hotels or when you’re visiting family, this is one of your best options. It’s also perfect for helping infants get a good night’s rest. The low soothing selections on this sound machine aren’t going to be too obtrusive for their little ears.
One of the nice things about the Homedics Sound Spa is that it’s small with an easy user interface. You simply press a button that corresponds with whatever sound you wish, and then turn the volume dial to an appropriate level. The sound is crisp and clear for such a small device.
- Six digitally recorded sounds, including: Ocean, Rain, Summer Night, and Brook.
- White noise generator
- Lightweight and easy to fit into a purse or a carry on bag.
- Auto Timer for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or one hour.
Okay, so this isn’t just a sound machine. Nevertheless, Google’s Nest Mini features the ability to play relaxing sounds that will help you sleep. The great sound quality coupled with a wide range of options, makes the Nest Mini not only act as an excellent speaker for music, but also for sleep sounds as well. These sounds generally play for 12 hours before they stop on their own, however, you can set them to a timer.
There are a number of artificial sounds that can be replicated by your Nest Mini with a simple command. These include:
- Ambient Noise
- White Noise
- Oscillating Fan Sounds
- Fireplace Sounds
Along with mechanical or artificial sounds, the Nest Mini comes with the ability to play a wide variety of natural sounds.
- Running Water
- Babbling Brook
- Rain Sounds
- River Sounds
- Forest Sounds
- Thunderstorm sounds
- Ocean Sounds
- Country Night Sounds
To activate sleep sounds you merely need to say, “Help me relax.” If you want a specific sound you just need to say “play,” followed by whatever sound you are looking for. For example, you could say, “play babbling brook,” if you find the sound of running water to be helpful for your sleep.
If you’re looking for flexibility or you just want to try out sleeping sounds with something you may already own, Google’s Nest Mini might just be right for you.
3rd Gen, Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon’s Echo Dot is another multi-purpose speaker that can be used as a sound machine. Like the Nest Mini, Amazon’s Echo Dot contains a number of options ranging from natural to mechanical sounds”
- Music Box
- City Sounds
- Oscillating Fan
If you need more options, you can buy a premium membership that provides you with 125+ new sounds and a number of features you can experiment with. We’ve listed a few of those features below:
- Immersive, High quality HD sound
- Create and save custom sounds
- Combine different sounds together to make your own
- Eliminate sound gaps so that you have an endless loop playing all through the night
Do White Noise Machines Block Out Noise?
To understand if white noise machines actually block out noise or not, we have to define our terms. In a practical sense, white noise machines “block” noises that would otherwise keep you up. However, in a technical sense, they’re not just “blocking” noise as much as they are masking it. This really comes down to the distinction between “sound masking” and “sound cancellation.”
- Sound Masking: Sound masking happens when white noise, or some other steady unobtrusive sound, is played to make other sounds less intelligible. Noise machines primarily employ this tactic because it works well in an open environment. If all the background noises flowing into your room at night become unintelligible, your mind is far less likely to pick up on them and become too stimulated to sleep.
- Sound Cancellation: Sound cancellation is when a microphone is used to capture incoming sound waves and neutralize them. The reason why noise machines don’t opt towards using sound cancellation has more to do with technical abilities than anything else.
Sound cancellation has been found to be effective in over the ear headphones, which produce their own little environments around the ears. However, it’s found to be impractical to use in an open space like a bedroom. The process necessary to pick up all the frequencies in one room and cancel them, would make these machines prohibitively expensive and impractical to install.
So in short, noise machines do not actually block or cancel sounds. Instead they make normally obtrusive sounds less intelligible to the mind, and, therefore, less likely to cause a significant distraction from getting a good night’s rest.
Do Noise Machines Actually Help You Sleep?
Noise machines are well known to help people sleep and improve your sleep quality. By masking background noise and projecting soothing rhythmic sounds, noise machines reduce distractions and ease users into a good night’s rest. Sleeping is essential for brain health, so getting a noise machine could help you fall asleep faster and get a better rest.
To pick the best noise machine for you, you should consider a few things first. If you need one on the go, you should check out Lectrofan Micro 2 Sleep Sound Machine or the Homedics Sound spa, as they are small but powerful with long lasting battery life.
If old-school mechanically produced white noise does the trick for you, Yogasleep Dohm Classic will be a dream come true. Finally, if you want to get the best variety, you just can’t beat the Nest Mini or the Amazon Echo Dot.
We also recommend sleep noise on youtube to relax and fall asleep faster!