White noise – it might seem like the stuff of horror films or dysfunctional machinery, indeed if any readers are Poltergeist fans then there might be no convincing you – but it turns out it can actually be a fantastically soothing sound, particularly for sleep.
Let’s jump right in to it.
White vs Pink vs Brown Noise: What’s Best for Sleep?
It turns out there’s a whole aural rainbow of colours… Who’dathunk? Let’s explore the kaleidoscope to find out which is the best for sleep…
As we all know, white noise is basically the sound of static. Some very young readers might have gratefully missed the days of tuning a television, where we’d have to travel across great deserts of hissy static before finally landing on a channel.
White noise is perfect for reducing distractions, however, seeing as the actual static noise is coming from a whole range of different frequencies bashing into one another at the same time.This forms a sort of noisy barrier that takes up the space where other noise might interfere, making it ideal for focusing in on a task (like sleeping).
Pink noise is different, in that it tends to anchor around more consistent frequencies rather than the mishmash of white noise. Pink noise is categorized by much lower octaves too, which give it a deeper resonance, for this reason it’s very often compared to the crashing of ocean waves or a soothing breeze.
Pink noise is usually used to relax the brain and calm the nerves – this works due to the consistency in frequency, which can fit in snugly with brainwaves and create a nice atmosphere.
Similar in its mechanics to pink noise, brown noise also stays consistent with its frequencies but uses much lower octaves again.
This tends to give brown noise a very deep rumble, almost like slow, heavy machinery or thunder.
Just like the other colors, brown noise has many benefits when it comes to mental health and is often used in therapy to help alleviate things like stress, migraines and even some hearing issues like tinnitus.
Cool, you say, but which one’s the best to help me sleep?
All of these types of noise have their benefits when it comes to sleep, by virtue of shielding us from the environmental noises that can irritate a restless sleeper. Ticking clocks, dripping taps, creaking floorboards… I’d say they’re the stuff of nightmares, but you can’t even fall asleep to have the nightmare with all this noise going on.
Deciding which type of noise is best for sleep is a difficult one to judge but white noise does tend to be the favored of the three… Maybe it’s an evolutionary thing: generations of humans falling asleep to the TV’s static.
How White Noise Helps You Sleep
It seems so counterintuitive that the way to ensure a decent night’s kip is actually to produce so much noise that it drowns out other disturbing night time noises, and yet… it works. The key to the confusing concept is that there are different types and quality of noises.
Beeping alarm clock? Hellish. Soothing white noise machine? Fantastic.
Why is this the case? Well, aside from the slightly more scientific stuff discussed above – there are a slew of practical reasons for white noise helping us sleep:
- Drowns it all out
White noise is so effective because it creates a new uniform noise that drowns out any individual sounds that cause night time ear-pricking. One tiny, solitary noise puncturing the silence can drive us absolutely mental when the mind picks up on it, but if it’s just one blanket, roving sphere of sound that you’re listening to, your mind will quickly turn off and let the noise do its own thing.
When we jolt awake from the sudden noise of somebody opening the door or the letterbox clattering and so forth; it’s not really the noise itself that’s alarming us, but the immediate change of sound. With white noise running through the night, there’s an aural consistency that can’t be broken.
- Convenient and portable
It works absolutely anywhere – unless you’re trying to catch some quiet shut-eye in the middle of a church sermon or a library, white noise can be applied in just about any environment, no matter how noisy or disruptive it might be.
- Helps establish a bedtime ritual
Once you’re in the habit of using white noise for relaxing slumber, the benefits can begin to pile up. Really, you’re just looking at the normal benefits of a healthy sleeping pattern: increased energy, less grumpy, health and wellbeing take a sharp increase, less risk of cardiovascular issues and much, much less stress and anxiety.
One of the majorly overlooked benefits of using white noise at bed time, however, is its ability to form the bedrock of a nightly routine. Most of us find it hard to establish a solid bed time or to tune out from TV, social media, phones etc. The discipline just isn’t there, and willpower alone is rarely enough to establish a routine.
By introducing something so radical in a sensory sense (say that five times fast), you’re effectively putting a stake in the ground and saying This Is Bed Time.
What is the Best White Noise Machine?
Yes, now that we can no longer rely on unreliable television for our static noise, we have to resort to purchasing white noise machines. Luckily the technology has come a long way; so let’s dive right into six of the best white noise machines on today’s market.
LectroFan White Noise Machine
Starting with LectroFan’s white noise machine, we’re instantly looking at one of the more proficient products on the market. This machine comes with 20 different sound options (ten non-repeating fan noises and ten non-repeating white noise options).
This means that users can click through ten different variations of ‘fan’ sounds such as ceiling fans, exhaust fans and so forth; the thinking being that these types of monotonous machinery have a similar effect as white noise itself. The white noise variations are selected in the same way, with users able to alter and choose along the ten point range.
This is a very compact device – able to fit into the palm of your hand, meaning you can take it with you in the event of travel. It also promises to run through the whole night without repeating or dropping its noise.
Some criticisms from unhappy customers all anchor on the same complaint: that after a few months of prolonged use, the noise quality begins to suffer and distort with crackles, which is the exact opposite effect desired of a white noise machine.
This might make it a risky purchase for some customers but it’s not a bad price for the adjustability and portability of this machine. Plus, the nearly five thousand users who gave it an average rating of 4.5 stars can’t be wrong. Read user reviews!
MarpacDohm All Natural White Noise Machine
The Marcpac Dohm-DS white noise machine is a little different from the norm when it comes to its mechanics. This little device uses a two-speed electric motor with a cleverly designed fan with asymmetrical blades, which helps it to create new sounds all night long without resorting to recordings or running the risk of establishing a loop or pattern.
The actual noise created by this fan system is a ‘whooshing’ type of noise associated with a relaxing breeze (but don’t worry, the fan is housed in an acoustic but shielded shell meaning there’s no unwanted cold breeze). Despite only being a two speed fan, there are lots of adjustments to be made in terms of volume and acoustics of the noise.
Again, this device is small enough to be portable and unobtrusive by your bedside and also comes with a one year warranty for added insurance.
In terms of drawbacks or limitations with this product, we’re really only looking at its slightly restricted range of adjustments – it runs the risk of being too simplistic for some users wanting to really fine tune their experience. But, having said that, it’s got a 4.5 average rating from close to 10,000 reviewers so it’s doing a lot of things right. Read user reviews!
HoMedics Sound Spa Relaxation Machine
Looking at HoMedics SS-2000G ‘relaxation machine’, you instantly see the difference in design and function between a digital and mechanical white noise machine. The HoMedics offering boasts six digital recordings of not only white noise, but also thunder, ocean, rain and the lilting trickle of a brook.
In terms of its customization and adjustments, there isn’t a whole lot going on: namely a volume control and the six noises… However, it does come with an interesting off-timer (three options of 15, 30 or 60 minutes).
Now, you might wonder why this option is so prevalent on this small digital model but not some of the other brands already reviewed, which brings me to one of the biggest drawbacks… it’s battery powered.
You might find yourself quickly going through batteries if you intend to keep this device running all night long – plus there’s the risk of a pattern or loop emerging from the pre-recorded sounds.
All of that being said HoMedic’s machine is very affordably priced – substantially lower than similar devices on the market, which makes it a nice beginner or test machine for somebody who isn’t quite sold on the whole white noise thing just yet. Read user reviews!
Marpac Rohm Portable White Noise Machine
With the Marpac Rohm Portable, we’re looking at another digital machine; this time with three different options for sound – bright white noise, deep white noise and gentle surf. Already this is a step down from even the HoMedics digital machine, but this Marpac model does specifically market itself as a portable option – so don’t expect the full domestic package.
That being said, the battery aspect may cause some issues in that it needs to be recharged with USB power and doesn’t seem give too much indication as to when energy is running low (meaning it may cut out in the middle of the night).
That being said it does come with the usual adjustable options and volume control, which begs the question… why is this model any more portable or different from other white noise machines? Its dimensions are roughly the same as domestic products, for example.
Retailing as low as it does, this particular option seems slightly redundant… when compared to slightly more expensive, but much more powerful products on the market. That being said, it does have a very cute design and an average rating of 4 stars from over 100 reviewers. Read user reviews!
Adaptive Sound Technologies Sleep Therapy System
Adaptive Sound Technologies’ ‘Sleep Therapy System’ means what it says on the box… it truly is an entire sound system in a nutshell. This product comes with a choice of ten base sounds (white noise and then the usual slew of ocean, meadow and so forth) which can be adjusted in terms of ‘richness’ and volume.
The best thing about this sound machine? The system actually has inbuilt adaptive sound technology which adjusts the volume based on its own readings of the ambient noise in your bedroom, which means it’ll remain consistent regardless of what’s happening around you.
Now, this product is on the larger side of the white noise machines: 7.5 x 5.5 x 4.5 inches – but for the power and adjustability, it’s a fair compromise. Read user reviews!
Sound Oasis S-5000 Deluxe Sound Therapy System
Sticking with the theme of more bombastic machines, let’s take a look at Sound Oasis’ Deluxe Sound Therapy System…
First off: let’s get it out of the way – this bad boy will cost you. Once you’ve picked yourself up off the ground, you’ll learn that this price comes from the incredible 145 sound combinations!
Bass and treble adjustments, headphone jacks, docking systems for iPods and mp3 players, three built-in speakers and a full AM/FM radio system… this is a far cry from the cheap and cheerful hissing box of Marpac’s portable number.
Obviously, the price and the overly technical nature of this machine will make it a huge drawback for a lot of potential customers; but for those that are deadly serious about their sleep and want the top of the range adjustable white noise machine… Look no further, this one’s got all the bells and whistles you could ever ask for. Read user reviews!
As with every appraisal of market favourites – picking the right product for you comes down to what you need from the machine. Will the cheaper portable options meet your desires? Similarly, will the overly expensive highly detailed machines be worth the money if you’re only going to use a handful of its sounds?
Hopefully, this article will have gone some way towards answering these questions for you and you’re well on your way to owning the best white noise machine to get you to more restful, more peaceful nights!