White Noise Machines

Create a Pleasing Acoustic Sound Barrier

When it comes to sleeping, sensory factors matter. Noise, the level and type of it, is a very personal preference. Some prefer silence—these poor souls are disrupted if a pin drops to the floor. Others have to have noise—they can’t go sleep without some background hum or buzz.

For most urban and even suburban dwellers the option to sleep in total silence is rare. You may be able to quiet the interior of your home or apartment, but the noise from neighbors, traffic even a few blocks away, car horns, sirens, barking dogs, and regular racket of the weekly, or daily garbage truck all become part of your sleep landscape. How do you deal with noise?

Noisy Neighbours.

Types of White Noise Machines

White noise machines, or acoustic sleep machines, have quick become the tool of choice for many sleepers. From basic and inexpensive to elaborate and pricey, night-time audio machines are incredibly popular. They screen, mask, condition, and otherwise create a static sound barrier designed to separate you from outside auditory interruptions.

  • Inexpensive white noise machines may only allow you to create one or two types of sound—usually a fan-sound or low-level hum that can be adjusted for volume. Compact and travel-sized sleep sound machines have become popular as well, considering that many travelers are already at risk for transient insomnia without sound interruptions to complicate matters. And don’t forget about adding a small sound machine to your baby’s room. Experts say that infants cycle more often in and out of light sleep during which they are vulnerable to even the slightest sounds. Mask background noise with a sleep machine.
  • High-end sleep sound machines come with bigger price tags, but for a number of reasons. Many of them are designed specifically as a sleep aid, clinically tested, and outfitted with an assortment of carefully engineered acoustic sounds.

Types of background sleep soundscapes you may find packaged in an acoustic sleep machine:

  • Waterfall
  • Roaring surf
  • Rain
  • Thunderstorm
  • Rainforest
  • River or stream
  • Wind
  • Night-time forest sounds: birds, crickets, frogs, owl
  • Train

These machines may be great for people that need noise, you argue, but what about those that prefer silence? Remember the rarity of silence? Many silent sleepers convert to these kinds of static sounds, realizing that silence is unlikely. IN a pinch you can even use a portable fan to create extra “white” noise.

Sleep Sound Machine Features

Most are housed in a hard plastic exterior and built of traditional audio components or with computerized components that allow you to download additional audio sounds. Higher end models have many settings including volume, sound speed and level, timers. They are AC and battery powered. Compact and travel models may have built-in alarm clocks and radios.

Low-cost models start at as little as $20 to $25 on and top-rated best sellers like Marpac's Dohm DS are priced closer to $50.

Marpac Dohm DS.

If these models are beyond your budget our you don't have room for them, you may want to look into some nature-sound audio CDs & MP3s. You can find free samples of many songs on services like YouTube and Spotify.

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