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Ahh, sleep. It plays a major role in our overall health and well-being — and yet, most of us don’t get enough of it. According to the Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 26 and 64 should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, while older individuals (aged 65 years and older) should aim for seven to eight. Between insomnia, sleep apnea, suppressed melatonin levels caused by blue light from our digital devices, and anxiety, however, that can be easier said than done without the help of a good sleep sound machine.
The Importance of Sleep
It’s easy to brush off the issue as not being such a big deal, but back in 2019, neuroscientist Matthew Walker argued that not getting enough sleep is “having a catastrophic impact on our health, our wellness, [and] even the safety and education of our children.”
Sticking to a proper sleep schedule, exercising, and choosing the right mattress and pillow can help, but if you’re a light sleeper who wakes up at the slightest movement or noise, there’s an even better solution out there: a sleep sound machine.
What is a sleep sound machine?
A sleep sound machine is most commonly referred to as a “white noise machine,” but these handy little gadgets can actually use all kinds of noise, including white, pink, or brown, to help you fall — and stay — asleep.
They work by emitting a constant hum of non-disruptive sound that will allow you to tune out everything, from noises that may be coming from the street below to your partner’s snoring. While some use a built-in fan, others rely on digitally-recorded sounds with the goal of increasing the amount of time you spend in a deep sleep. Many models even offer a wide array of soothing nature sounds, allowing you to be lulled to sleep by the waves of the ocean, for example.
White vs. Pink vs. Brown Noise
Depending on which sound machine you choose, it may be equipped with white, pink, or brown noise, or offer you the option to choose between all three.
So what’s the difference between these colorful sounds? White noise, for one, is a mix of all the different frequencies we’re able to hear as humans (it sounds a bit like TV static). Pink noise, meanwhile, has a mix of high and low frequencies, which means it’s softer and less harsh to the ear. As for brown noise, it’s similar to pink noise, but is more deep, as it features more bass and a lower frequency.
Ready to find out which one will work best for you? Keep reading for FIRST for Women’s picks for the best sleep sound machines to help you get a great night’s rest.
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
Top Rated Sleep Sound Machine
Where to Buy: $37.95 (was $49.95), Amazon
With close to 10,000 reviews, a 4.5-star rating, and the Amazon’s Choice stamp of approval, the 'LectroFan EVO is one of the top-rated white noise machines on the market. Boasting 20 settings (10 of which are fan sounds and 10 that include a mix of white, pink, and brown noise sounds), this little machine will not only help you fall asleep, but focus better on your work. All you have to do is plug it into a wall socket or USB outlet, adjust the volume, and let it run.
As one reviewer enthused, this guy is also a great solution for noisy neighbors: I can now peacefully snooze through not only my neighbors' stomping kitchen antics, but also the 8 a.m. garbage truck arriving bright and early every Wednesday.”
Best Portable Sleep Sound Machine
HoMedics SoundSpa Ultra
Where to Buy: $44, Amazon
Founded in 1987, HoMedics is well-known for its top-notch massage products, but its wide range of other wellness goodies is nothing to scoff at. If you like to travel, the brand's SoundSpa Ultra is the perfect choice for you. This compact machine is lightweight, cord-free, and totally portable at just 8.8 ounces. It comes with 12 different sounds that include white noise, plus a whole array of nature-inspired options (ocean, thunderstorm, and campfire are in the mix). It also has a handy rechargeable battery, which lasts for 12 hours when fully charged, and an automatic timer, which you can set for 15, 30, or 60 minutes. Turn it on, get comfortable, and enjoy some quality zzz's!
Best Bluetooth Sleep Sound Machine
Where to Buy: $26.48 (was $34.95), Amazon
The 'Lectrofan Micro2 is another Amazon’s Choice option that will offer you the best of two worlds. Not only is it a worthy sleep sound machine, it also doubles as a bluetooth speaker. There are 11 non-looping sounds for a better night’s sleep, including five fan tones, two ocean sounds, and four white, pink, and brown noise options. But that’s not all: This model can also connect to your smartphone to stream everything from music to audiobooks. There’s a built-in microphone, so you can use it as a speakerphone, and the rechargeable battery will last up to 40 hours in sleep mode or 20 hours in bluetooth.
As one user gushed, ”I love this! Can't hear my husband snoring.”
Best Cheap Sleep Sound Machine
Reacher White Noise Sound Machine
Where to Buy: $19.99 (was $29.99), Amazon
With a 4.5-star rating and a seriously affordable price tag, you can’t go wrong with this Reacher white noise machine. This powerful devices features a total of 28 non-looping sounds, including 12 white noise options, 12 fan sounds, and four nature sounds, including forest, rain, and summer night. Once you’ve picked your favorite sound, you can set your desired volume with the big, easy-to-use knob (no need to punch tiny buttons!), and let yourself be soothed to sleep. This machine can be run through the night or, alternatively, you can set its timer for 15, 30, 60, or 90 minutes. Another great feature is the memory function, which will automatically recall the last sound you used.
Best Light and Sleep Sound Machine
VanSmaGo Sleep Sound Machine and Night Light
Where to Buy: $29.97, Amazon
If you’re having trouble putting the grandkids to bed, this VanSmaGo sleep sound machine and night light will be just the secret helper you need. Suitable for babies, toddlers, and young children, it has 28 sounds, including white, pink, and brown noise, as well as fan and nature sounds, like birds and ocean waves — there's even a lullaby option! Also helpful? The night light, which comes with 12 modes (a touch of the finger will change the colors, offering hours of fun) and has an adjustable brightness to be soothing — not jarring. Meanwhile, its rechargeable battery will give you up to 10 hours of use between charges.
Best Pink Noise Machine
Marpac Dohn Classic
Where to Buy: $41.77, Amazon
Marpac has been selling its sound machines since 1962, which is when it introduced the first-ever fan-based model to the world. Dubbed “the original white noise machine,” the company's Dohm Classic actually uses pink noise that's generated by a fan to help lull you to slumbertown. It's meant to mimic the soothing sound of air without the extra noise of a real cooling fan. What's more, this simple device couldn’t be easier to use: Just plug it into the nearest socket, choose between the high and low fan speed, then twist the knob to find the right pitch and tone for your ears. It comes in six colors and has a 101-night guarantee, so if you’re not sleeping better in the allotted time frame, you can get your money back!
Best Sleep Sound Machine With Alarm Clock
HoMedics Soundspa Recharged Alarm Clock and Sound Machine
Where to Buy: $39.99 (was $49.99), Amazon
The HoMedics Soundspa Recharged does it all! In addition to acting as a handy sleep sound machine, it also functions as a digital radio, alarm clock, thermometer, and more. When it's time for bed, there are eight calming resonances to choose from (fan, campfire, rainforest, ocean, gentle rain, white noise, thunderstorm, and brook), as well as an energy-efficient timer, which will turn off the machine after 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes. Come morning, however, it will also help you wake up with a morning alarm that you can program to your preferred nature sound, radio station, or classic beeping noise. Other unique features include an indoor temperature reader and the ability to project the time onto the wall or ceiling with a calming blue light.
Best Brown Noise Machine
Sound+Sleep SE Special Edition
Where to buy: $88.54, Amazon
The Sound+Sleep SE Special Edition may have one of the higher price points on this list, but its wide range of sounds is truly unrivaled. Promising to deliver “real sounds for naturally better sleep,” it boasts a whopping 64 to choose from. Fancy falling asleep to a meadow full of crickets or an ocean with seals, seagulls, and even the occasional fog horn? This machine has you covered. A feature called adaptive sound allows it to listen to your environment and adjust its own volume as needed to help you stay asleep, and the light on the front panel also dims automatically. It can run all night or be preset for a 30-, 60-, 90-, or 120-minute shut-off.
“It is the best sound machine I have ever used," one reviewer raved.
Another noted that it was built to last, writing, “One-and-a-half year update: Still working as new."
Best High End Sleep Machine
SNOOZ White Noise Sound Machine
Where to Buy: $79.99, Amazon
Inspired by those of us who love to leave the fan running at night to drown out the world, SNOOZ's white noise sound machine creates non-looping white noise from a real, built-in fan — but without the cold air. It’s also 98 percent more energy efficient than the real thing! There are 10 volume settings that make it suitable for light sleepers of all ages and it's compact enough to be taken anywhere you want to go. You can also take your SNOOZ experience up a notch by downloading the companion app, which acts as a remote control, to adjust volume and turn it on/off from afar.
VTech Myla the Monkey Baby Sleep Soother
VTech Myla The Monkey Baby Sleep Soother
Where to Buy: $24.95 (was $29.95), Amazon
VTech's Myla the Monkey Baby Sleep Soother is the perfect option for babes who are having trouble drifting off to la la land. Shaped like a cute monkey, it comes preloaded with “five calming melodies and five soft ambient sounds” that range from white noise to a gentle stream. What’s more, the monkey’s cheeks light up (you can choose how bright or dim you want them to be) in various colors for an added soothing effect. It features a 60-minute timer and can be plugged into any standard power outlet. If you’re on-the-go, you can also use the included rechargeable battery.