White Noise Machines are a mechanical device that can create soothing sounds for health and relaxation benefits. You may have heard them called:
- Sound conditioners
- Sleep sound machines
- White noise generators
- Natural noise machines
But these are all fundamentally the same thing. They aptly generate white noise which has proven beneficial to sleep and this can be in the form of mechanical sounds such as fans, electrical equipment or static to more natural sounds such as rain, ocean waves or birds and animals.
How do white noise machines work?
A white noise machine aims to mask or disguise other noise by creating different sound waves that are different frequencies and characterized as either; white noise or nature sounds. By creating these sounds at certain frequencies they are able to help block other frequencies from reaching the brain which can help in noisy atmospheres as well as medical conditions such as tinnitus to reduce the effect it has on the sufferer.
What is white noise?
White noise is simply a unified sound frequency having different sound waves played together, that’s volume is constant throughout and is a signal that is able to mask other sounds. In a similar way to white light, white noise is a combination of all other frequencies together to create another signal and has even been applied in computer programming, engineering and electronics thanks to its usefulness and is now being applied to medical and health professions as well. More modernly, white noise is also the term used to encompass the unchanging background noises of machinery, soundscapes and nature.
It is also interesting to note that there are other colors of noise such as pink, red, grey, brown and violet which all coincide with their color frequencies that also have benefits and uses.
Types of white noise machines
With a lot of different options on the market, there are many to choose from but you need to understand the different types that are available as generally they produce different sounds and have their own limitations. The options are;
- Fan assisted – These types of machine are very basic and comprise of only a fan based element that creates the general white noise frequency that can be similar to static. For those that prefer this frequency and tone they are a perfect cheaper alternative to anything else on the market but they are restricted to playing this one type of sound and usually there isn’t much flexibility with it.
- Natural Noise – These types of machines focus on the modern definition of white noise and display; ocean, nature, animals or water sounds that have a variety of tracks to play. These are excellent if you prefer a more natural approach or if you are playing it around the house with guests or other people as it can be less harsh on the ears and many more prefer it. The downside to these is that they can have obvious looping on the tracks which can become monotonous after a while.
- Electrical Machines – This is the term used to encompass the white noise machines that cover a range of different sounds and are more modernly a combination of the different types which offer more flexibility and can be used by multiple people. Usually they have static or traditional white noise options with the added bonus of natural tracks that can sometimes even combine the two. The limitation with these is usually the price and ultimately the more options or flexibility you are looking for from a white noise machine, the more you will pay to achieve this.
- Apps – Although not technically machines, apps can help to give you an on the move accessibility to white noise if you prefer to use it during a commute. Although there are a lot of options out there for apps they can seriously drain your battery and are very limited as far as sound and variation are concerned but they are worth mentioning as they are the only option you can use while moving (e.g. driving etc.)
When purchasing a white noise machine, decide on the best option for you and where you are going to put them (see below). This will help you to choose the right type and make sure all of your needs are being met.
The benefits of using white noise generators
There are many benefits to using white noise machines that have been discussed and briefly these include:
- Aid Tinnitus sufferers
- Help you to fall asleep and gives you good quality sleep
- Masks unwanted or harmful Noise
- Calms babies
- Helps improve focus
- Increases productivity
- Reduces stress and anxiety
This is not an exclusive list and the use of white noise has increased recently to celebrities and even presidential candidates to improve their professional and personal lives.
Where to Put Them
Many people don’t realise that most white noise machines are compact and flexible meaning that they can be taken to many different places to fulfil a range of purposes. For example;
- The Office – Place a white noise machine on your desk if you work in a busy environment to help block out distractions and allow you to focus more easily. You could also discuss with your colleagues to find sounds that everyone enjoys and you could buy one collectively to remain in the office all the time. This will increase productivity and reduce work pressure on yourself and everyone around creating a happier working environment.
- The Nursery – White noise machines are particularly useful to help babies get to sleep because many white noise sounds mimic the type of noise that they heard in utero. This means that for fussy babies that struggle to sleep or are light sleepers will in fact be more soothed by the noise than disturbed. Some latest research has also shown that white noise (at the right levels) can improve cognitive development in babies while they sleep (in the same way playing music to your tummy when pregnant can help).
- The Living Room – Placing a white noise machine in the living or dining room can create a more welcoming environment for guests. It can stimulate conversation at the dinner table and avoid awkward silences for new guests or friends during difficult situations. These machines can also help to keep people calm during family discussions or disputes and minimalize angry outbursts meaning they are conducive to a happier family altogether.
- Your Bedroom–White noise machines are not limited to helping babies sleep, they can also help adults to fall asleep more easily as well as create a calm and relaxing environment. Many people go to bed early to unwind, relax and sometimes read a book and a correctly placed white noise machine can help your brain to relax and calm your thoughts which puts you in the perfect head space to sleep. Also if you have a partner who snores, a white noise machine can be a useful tool so that you both get a good nights’ sleep as it can mask the sound and avoid restless nights for you both and conflict in the morning!
- Suitcase– Are you a frequent traveler that has to stay away from home? You can keep the white noise machine in your suitcase ready for your next trip. If you go on business you can use the white noise machine to focus in an unfamiliar environment. If you are travelling on holiday (especially in particularly sunny climates) a white noise machine can help you to regulate your sleep and avoid jet lag in countries that are naturally very bright that can be over stimulating for the brain.
Realistically you can place white noise machines anywhere that you see the benefit and don’t be afraid of taking them with you to hotels or new places. If they are beneficial to you, you will be able to find a space anywhere!
Best white noise machines additional features
Thanks to the latest technology, white noise machines can come with extra features that give you more value for money and make them even more beneficial. For example, some of the extra features you can get are:
- Automatic Timings – This allows you to set a time limit on the machine so that it is not running constantly. Some even have programs that you can set so that you do not use excess electricity or overuse your machine. For example you can set the time for two hours so that it automatically switches off at night time after you have fallen asleep. You can also use it as a timer for work and set it for an hour of focus and calm productivity and when it switches off you can move onto a different task to give your brain a rest.
- Varying Audio Outputs – White noise isn’t for everyone and if you are using a white noise machine in a common area you need to be respectful of others’ needs. You may even find that it is a dispute about the volume that is the problem. Therefore many white noise machines come with a USB output and a headphone jack so that you can use it more privately without causing grievances with others. This is also particularly beneficial for students or travellers in shared accommodation.
- Sound Libraries–Some of the best white noise machines cater to a range of sounds and will actually have a library of sounds rather than playing a looped range of the same noise. These libraries offer you some flexibility to mask noise, improve sleep and improve focus all with the same machine using different types of sound. Also a sound library allows many different users to benefit from the machine as some may prefer nature sounds while others may prefer a more traditional white noise.
- Clocks – Many white noise machines incorporate a clock and alarm for those who need help waking up as well as sleeping. By incorporating white noise into the alarm it can help to naturally pull you out of your sleep rather than an abrupt wake up that can be detrimental to your mental health long term.
The Latest Models
We have discussed previously that the Sleep Easy, Marpac and LectroFan are some of the best white noise machines for shift workers but there have also been some great models that have been released and it is important to stay up to date with the latest technology that can help you in everyday life, two different models that stand out are;
Model Name: Ecotones Sound & Sleep Machine
- Automatic environmental adjustments for noise masking
- Monitors ambient noise
- Good quality sounds including natural options such as rain or ocean waves
- Eliminated sound loops
- Organically added natural sounds as background music e.g chirping
- Long sound recordings
- Automatic shutoff (60, 90 and 120 minutes)
Overall, this is an excellent contender this year with a wide variety of settings that can be remembered for each session so you don’t have to program it again. With an advanced sound quality and a flexibility with the noise you can avoid audio looping which may annoy some users. It can be the higher end of your budget but you ultimately get what you pay for and with this you get a lot.
Model Name: HoMedics Deep Sleep
- Range of sounds including natural noise, white noise and water sounds
- Remote control for easy usage
- LCD screen
- Small and compact
- High quality sounds and minimal looping
- Excellent sound masking
This is another fantastic machine and works particularly well with noise masking for those with noisy neighbors or very thin walls. With a host of features there is bound to be something for everyone with the 12 different sound settings and the LCD display blends in nicely to the modern home.
Hopefully you have gained more knowledge on white noise machines as well as the sound that they produce. You should now be able to identify the benefits to using the machine as well as be able to use it correctly in and out of your home for flexibility and many different uses. You have also been introduced to two new models and some interesting new additional developments that you can obtain with a white noise machine as technology advances.
Overall white noise generators are useful tools that you can use to improve your health and your lifestyle and you should consider adding white noise to your regime for better sleep and wellness.