Is the silence, or maybe lack of silence, keeping you awake at night? Whether it is outside noises, anxiety in general or even the dead of silence, your sleep may be effected. Often times the addition of white noise machines become a common suggestion for soothing yourself to sleep. But, what are the short term and long term benefits to these noise inducing machines?
So we took a deeper look into the pros and cons of sleeping with a white noise machine. As you’ll see below, there are several reasons this may be a great addition, and a few reasons you may overlook this option. You’ll also find our top 6 favorite sound machines on the market today too.
How does white noise work?
All sounds have different frequencies. When we are sleeping, our brains are still processing noises as we rest. Which would explain why you may have a dream about playing basketball and when you wake up, you find that someone had put a basketball game on the TV. When you are sleeping and there is a sudden noise in a different frequency, your brain is alerted and wake you up for safety purposes.
White noise has a broad blanket of frequencies that are buzzing which camouflages other noises as they come and go. Making these random disturbances through the night less disturbing and more likely to go completely unnoticed. It is important to keep in mind that a lot of sounds found in life that are thought of as “white noise” like waterfalls, wind, or the hum of an idling engine are all similar but they are not true white noise. There are other color noises that work in very similar ways with slight variations that also work well for sleeping. We will get to those a bit later.
Want to learn about how music can effect your sleep? Check out our page Best Music For Sleep to learn more.
Pros of Noise Machines to Fall/Stay Asleep:
1. Go To Sleep Faster
You are most easily disturbed by noises right as you begin to fall asleep. Which is why using a sound machine is such a great way to get to sleep faster.
If you are only wanting to use a sound machine for a short period of time (instead of all night) then we suggest falling asleep to it. The sound machine will muffle any potentially disturbing sounds, making it much easier to fall asleep faster than you normally would.
2. Stay Asleep Longer
While sleeping with a sound machine, you are more likely to sleep longer as you will experience less noise disturbances while you sleep.
So no more being startled awake by different sounds like the ice machine, the AC kicking on, or a car horn. Instead you will be able to sleep through those minimal disturbance better and get a deeper longer lasting nights rest.
3. Lowers Anxiety
Sleep anxiety can make it very difficult to get to sleep. Trying to fall asleep with no sounds what so ever can feel oppressing, while putting on music or TV can be distracting and keep you awake longer. White noise can really help a lot in these situations.
Small sounds and disturbances that most people would dismiss immediately can be incredibly disruptive to someone with anxiety. White noise helps to camouflage those disturbances and make it easier to fall asleep with sleep anxiety. It is also nice to have a sound that disrupts and alleviates silence while also not adding extra distractions.
4. Alleviates Headaches
Headaches and migraines can be difficult to get rid of. However, new studies have come out claiming that Pink Noise (a variation of white noise) can actually help alleviate pain caused by headaches. It is a soothing consistent sound that does not overwhelm you senses. Instead it illuminates external noises that can trigger or irritate migraines.
5. Improves Memory & Focus
When you get a better nights sleep, you have more energy and focus the following day. Getting a good nights rest also helps to move things you learned during the day into your long term memory. Which means getting a great nights sleep is a cycle for improved retainment of the things you are learning, this is vital for children and adults alike.
Cons of Noise Machines to Fall/Stay Asleep:
For some, the low frequency buzzing of white noise can be irritating and distracting. While it may blur lessen the impact of other noises around you it is after all a sound itself. While it turns into a background noise that most minds do not try to even process.
Making it feel practically unthought about and essentially “unheard”. Other individuals may work slightly differently, finding the noise to be a constant and unwavering irritation that must cease in order to get some real peace and quiet.
2. Hearing Damage (If too close or loud)
If you turn up white noise too loudly or place the noise machine too close to you or your little one, then you could be causing hearing damage. While it is a gentle sound, if turned up too loud it is persistent and can absolutely cause hearing damage if left on too loud or too long.
If you are using the sound machine for a young child, you should be especially mindful about this. Your little one won’t be able to express to you their discomfort or move the machine away themselves. You may misinterpret tears as standard nighttime irritation. Be sure to keep the noise machine across the room and at a gentle volume in order to ensure their developing ears remain safe and sound.
3. Not Woken Up For Danger
The reasoning behind why we wake up to sudden noises is for safety purposes. When you are in a deep sleep, your mind cannot distinguish a loud noise between the ice maker or someone breaking into your home. So it is important you wake up in case there is some kind of potential danger. However, if you are sleeping completely undisturbed, warnings and call for attention may go unnoticed.
This is important to take note of for children, if they are sick or not doing well, they need their parents to hear them in order to receive help. If you cannot hear their cough or cries, then you may sleep through a moment when they really need your to wake up. Or if someone is really breaking into your home, it would be nice to hear them and wake up. A sound machine may block out these alert sounds.
4. Potential Delays in Young Children’s Development
When it comes to developing brains, children’s mind are constantly busy soaking up any and all information possible and processing every bit they can.
While these white noise machines may help them sleep, there are now theories that it may potentially cause delays in their developing minds.
The constant input of white noise is blurring and they are not able to listen or process any of the typical sounds they would normally hear throughout the night. Which may set them back in categorizing and developing those sounds.
By far the most documented and likely con of using white noise machines is that you or your little one will become dependent on using it in order to get a good nights rest. The truth is that we are creatures of habit and if you find it helpful to get to sleep while using a sound machine, then go for it.
However, you may find one day you forgot to pack it on vacation. It may not seem like a big deal until you find yourself in bed wide eyed and unable to get to sleep. Thankfully their are apps and different portable options so you can have and use sound machines pretty much anywhere you go.
The sleeping habits you set up as children can be much more impactful than sleeping habits we pick up as adults. If you teach your child to sleep with a sound machine every single night, they may find it difficult to sleep without one. Ever. It is important to set your kids up for successful and healthy sleeping habits so they do not have to depend on a machine to get a good nights rest.
Which Noises are best?
There are all sort of different versions of white noise that have been given different colors, such as pink noise, or brown noise. There are 9 prevalent “colors” of these types of generated noises. Those 9 include red, blue, violet, black, green, orange, brown, pink, and of course white. The only colors that are thought to really be beneficial to sleep promotion are pink, white, and brown.
The OG of color noises, white noise features the entire spectrum of frequencies pretty much an even volume all squished together. Sounds like rainfall, or a running fan or humidifier, while very calming and potentially similar sounding to white noise, a true white noise sound is typically generated in a program.
Some research has even suggested that pink noise is a better option for sleeping than white noise is. This is because while white noise contains all of the different frequencies at the same volume, pink features all of the frequencies as well.
However, in pink noise the lower frequencies are louder than the higher frequencies. Making it a more soothing sound overall while still masking other noises.
Brown noise is rather similar to pink noise, it is heavier on the low frequencies. However, with brown noise you do not have any of the high frequency pitches like the white and pink noise have. So why is this? For one reason, lower frequencies are more soothing and calming than high pitches.
Yet, this is what makes brown the least beneficial to sleep than the other two. By sticking to only lower frequencies, you have cut out the camouflaging of high frequencies. Meaning if there is a sudden burst of high frequency noise, you will be more likely to wake up than with the other two options.
Getting your kids to sleep isn’t always easy, but getting them on a set sleeping schedule can help. Visit our page How To Get Your Kids Back On A Sleep Schedule to learn how.
Our Favorite Sound Machines:
We searched through the top rated sound machines on the market and picked our absolute favorites for getting your best sleep possible. We even slipped in a sound machine app as well. Keep reading to find out what we love about each of these individual sound machines.
1) SNOOZ White Noise Sound Machine
This is such a unique and effective sound machine. On the inside of the Snooz is a small adjustable fan, it is actually the fan creating the noise, no speakers or looping soundtracks on this sound machine. You can adjust the tone and volume of the Snooz on your phone, they even have a specialized setting made just for babies in order to keep your little ones ears safe and sound.
Click the link to get your SNOOZ White Noise Machine now.
2) iHome Zenergy Portable Sound Machine
This modern designed sound machine that is compact for easy portability comes with 12 different sound options. This includes white noise, pink noise, and a white noise with added tones. We love the variety this sound machine provides while remaining very intuitive and easy to use.
The iHome Zenergy Portable Sound Machine is available today at Amazon.com
3) Moico Sound Machine
This is a great sound machine for someone who wants the basics for a great price. You can get this quality sound machine for under thirty dollars. Making it the most cost effective on our list. Comes with 30 different sound options including pink, white, and brown noise. All together this is a great option for the nursery or your own room.
Click the link to learn more about the Moico Sound Machine.
4) Relax Melodies: Sleep Sounds
This noise machine app is one of the best out there. We love that you have a seemingly unlimited number of sounds and themes all for under five dollars and you can link your phone to any speaker you currently own.
Our absolute favorite part of this app, is that you can create your own mix of sounds to make your own custom sleep track. We particularly liked the mix of pink noise layered softly with thunderstorm gently playing in the background.
Download the Relax Melodies App by clicking on the link and buying today.
5) Sound+Sleep Sound Machine
This tear drop shaped noise machine comes with all of your standard color noise options plus 13 other noise options and a timer for your noise machine to turn off on it’s own.
We love that this machine will listen and adapt to the amount of sound in the room currently. Which means if your partner starts to snore it will automatically adjust in order to better cover that noise, and then when they stop it will automatically turn down the volume for you as well.
Get your Sound + Sleep Sound Machine on Amazon.com today.
6) SOAIY Aurora Night Light and Sound Machine
Not just a sound machine, the Soaiy Aurora is also a projecting night light. The different colors and patterns are projected onto the wall or ceiling to provide a beautiful mood lighting to help you drift off to sleep. (This is especially helpful for those who are attempting to wean themselves off of falling asleep to the television.) Comes with 6 different built in sounds and a Bluetooth connection for if you prefer to play something off of your phone. Young children and adults alike will enjoy the views and sounds of this machine.
Click the link to learn more about the SOAIY Aurora Sound Machine and watch a video on what it can do.
7) Big Red Rooster Sound Machine
This sound machine comes in at a great price, costing under twenty dollars. It also has 3 different sleep timers to choose from, 15, 30, or 60 minutes. The Big Red Rooster also comes with a variety of different sounds from white noise to thunder storms. It is simple to use and you can’t beat that price.
The Big Red Rooster Sound Machine is available for purchase on Amazon.com.
8) SleepyMe Smart Sleep Soother
This adorable chick shaped sound machine/night light is great for kids. It is adorable and features a night light that projects stars in changing colors onto the walls.
We love that this sound machine comes with an optional timer to ensure that your little one can use it to fall asleep but that it will not stay on all night long.
Perfect for a nursery, click the link to get your SleepyMe Smart Sleep Soother today.
Pros & Cons of White Noise Machines
When used properly, white (and other color) noises can be an effective way to get to sleep faster and improve the quality of sleep you’re getting. It is typically when used improperly is when the potential cons start to have an effect. Making sure the volume and placement is low and far enough away to keep you or your children’s ears safe from any potential damage is a great way to limit the majority of potential risks.
It is also important to ensure that you only use a sound machine when necessary, turn on timers to go off after a certain period of time. This way your little one can get to sleep but isn’t sleeping with the sound machine all night long. Set a timer for you as well, and try to only use it on nights where you really need it. If you sleep with a sound machine every night you may find that you become dependent on using a sound machine to get some rest. While this isn’t particularly terrible thing to be dependent on, you will be wishing you weren’t when the day comes that you are on vacation and forgot to pack it.
We hope you found this helpful and if you decide to purchase a sound machine we would love to hear how you like it yourself. We are always wanting to get feedback from our readers. Click the link to visit our Contact Us page and tell us how you like whichever machine you end up getting.