The best white noise machines for better sleep


Angela Lang/CNET

Sleep: We all need it, but many of us don’t get enough of it. Whether you have trouble falling asleep, find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night, or waking up inexplicably early, a white noise machine could be the solution to your sleep problem

White noise machines — or, more aptly, sound machines, as many offer more than white noise these days — can help you fall asleep and stay asleep by masking sounds from outside your bedroom. When I lived in an apartment complex with questionably thin walls, white noise machines drowned out revving engines, barking dogs and crying babies. 

Read more: Find the right mattress and the right pillow for you. 

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably trying to find ways to get better sleep, or to help someone else improve their sleep. To help everyone get more shuteye and snooze deeper, I tested a selection of white noise machines and divulged the details for you. If these machines can send me — the self-proclaimed lightest sleeper ever — to dreamland, there is hope they can  work for you, too.

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Angela Lang/CNET

A favorite on Amazon, the Homedics Sound Spa strikes the perfect balance of quality and budget — that is, it’s a good value. This white noise machine has a timer you can set for 15, 30 or 60 minutes and six calming sleep sounds. Choose from white noise, brook, thunder, summer night, ocean and rain. You can plug the Sound Spa into a wall outlet or use batteries to take it on your travels, which brings me to the one of the best features — that it’s incredibly portable. It’s lightweight and thin, so you can slip it into a carry-on or personal item with no problem. 

What I love: The Homedics Sound Spa is inexpensive, easy to use and portable. It produces high-quality sound for the price (although the rain setting has an obvious loop), and it has enough sound settings for the average person.

What I don’t love: When the Sound Spa is turned on, there’s a little green light on top of the machine. I’m pretty sensitive to light when falling asleep and while sleeping (I’m a very light sleeper), so this green light felt very bright and unnecessary to me. If you want pitch-black darkness, the Homedics Sound Spa is probably not the right choice for you, or you can try covering up the light.

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Angela Lang/CNET

Unlike many models, the LectroFan doesn’t have sounds of birds chirping, water falling or other nature goings-on, and I think that’s a good thing. It means that people who buy a white noise machine for white noise are getting exactly what they want. The LectroFan has 20 total sounds — 10 white noise sounds and 10 fan sounds. It’s only got three buttons on the front: power, volume control and sound selection. The volume control is pretty sensitive, and I’ve never had a problem finding just the right volume to mask outside sounds on any given night — I’ve used the LectroFan on and off for about six months, both at home and while traveling. 

What I love: I really adore the simplicity of the LectroFan. Its small size and portability add to that. This is the perfect white noise machine for people who don’t need much in the way of sound options, but do need to bring their white noise machine when they travel. 

What I don’t love: There’s not anything to really dislike about the LectroFan, unless you’re looking for something with nature sounds. If that’s the case, definitely look elsewhere.

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Sound of Sleep

If you want a white noise machine that’s much more than just a white noise machine, the Sound+Sleep SE from Sound of Sleep is the one you need. It may be pricier than what most people would want to spend on a white noise machine, but you definitely get your money’s worth: I’ve been using this white noise machine for more than six months, and not only does it put me to sleep (and keep me asleep), but it also helps me focus while working from home and drown out distracting sounds. 

What I love: The sheer range of sounds you get with this white noise machine. I use the pink noise setting to fall asleep and the meditation or rainfall settings to focus while I’m working. I also love the acute volume control and sleek design. It doesn’t look out of place on my nightstand or my desk. 

What I don’t love: There’s nothing I dislike about the Sound+Sleep SE. It’s expensive for a sound machine, but it’s well worth the price if you have trouble falling asleep at night — you can’t put a price tag on feeling well-rested. 

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Honeywell makes trustworthy, high-quality products, and the Dreamweaver Sleep Fan is no different. This small bedside fan doubles as a sound machine, but it doesn’t actually use white noise — it uses pink noise, a softer type of ambient noise that’s been shown to increase time spent in deep sleep and improve memory. When living in a busy apartment complex last year, this fan and pink noise combo helped drown out the sounds of cars and passers-by. 

What I love: There’s a little night light on top of the unit that has three levels — if you like to sleep in pitch-black darkness, tap it three times to turn it off completely. If you like a little bit of light, the Dreamweaver can be your white noise machine, night light and fan all in one. 

What I don’t love: It seems like the fan collects dust pretty easily, but that’s what fans do. It’s nothing a quick wipe-down can’t fix. 

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Two more great white noise machines

While these two white noise machines aren’t my top choices, they still offer value and might be right for you. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Dohm proclaims itself the first company to manufacture white noise machines, and the Dohm Classic is apparently the original sound machine for sleep. The Dohm Classic is super simple, much like the LectroFan: It only produces white noise, and the only controls are on/off, high and low. Once you choose high or low, rotate the cap to adjust the sound to the perfect level for you. 

If you’re really looking for simplicity, the Dohm Classic embodies it. To me, this white noise machine feels a little limited for the price, and the sound quality isn’t as great as some of the others on this list. However, it comes from a reputable brand and has nearly 4,000 positive reviews on Amazon, so it’s worth looking into if you want a trustworthy product at the middle of what seems to be the price range (about $15 to $90) for white noise machines.  

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The Snooz White Noise Sound Machine is a good choice for people who want an authentic fan sound. Most white noise machines come with a fan sound, but if you’re used to falling asleep with a fan, you can tell the difference. 

That’s where Snooz comes in: This sleep machine is a simple acoustic enclosure with a mechanical fan on the inside. Obviously, this means the sound doesn’t loop, so that’s a bonus. By rotating the body of the machine, you can alter the pitch of the fan sound to find one that best drowns out the sounds keeping you awake. 

I, for one, would probably just prefer to sleep with a fan because I sleep warm anyway. It’s kind of pricey for a white noise machine with such limited sound options, but Snooz could work well for people who like fan sounds but don’t want cold air. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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