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The Best White Noise Machines to Beat Insomnia and Get to Sleep

Updated on March 18, 2017
greenmind profile image

I have been struggling with sleep issues since our babies were born. I hope some of these ideas help you!

The Best White Noise Machines

White noise machines make a soothing "whoosh" sound that helps you sleep and covers up distracting noises. The benefits of owning a white noise machine are wide-ranging. I have used this product for sleeping for about 5 years, and I have owned several different models with different features. I can honestly say that I don't know how I ever got to sleep before these little marvels came into my life.

The greatest benefit of owning and using a white noise machine is very simple—better sleep. Those of you who struggle with insomnia, as I did for many years, will immediately see what a big deal this is. Insomnia robs you of restful sleep. My kind of insomnia was the can't-relax variety—I would often lie awake for hours, waiting for sleep to come, listening to my partner breathe, wishing I could just tune out. Those were tough times, and the later it got, the more anxiety I would feel, and that anxiety fed my inability to fall asleep. It was the classic vicious cycle with which all of us insomniacs are sadly familiar.

Life before my white noise machine

The best rated white noise machines can help you get to sleep
The best rated white noise machines can help you get to sleep | Source

The Science Behind the Benefits

For such a small, affordable little gadget, it has had an incredible impact on my life. It's true that you really don't realize how lack of sleep is affecting you until you get a truly good night's sleep. The difference in how you feel is amazing, but even more important is the difference sleep makes in you ability to function. This can impact everything from your emotional stability to critically important things like your alertness while driving. Consider these chilling statistics from the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America poll:

"60% of adult drivers – about 168 million people – say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third, (37% or 103 million people), have actually fallen asleep at the wheel! In fact, of those who have nodded off, 13% say they have done so at least once a month. Four percent – approximately eleven million drivers – admit they have had an accident or near accident because they dozed off or were too tired to drive."

Asleep at the Wheel?

Before I started sleeping better, I was involved in an accident -- non-fatal, fortunately -- caused by me being too sleepy to respond fast enough to a road hazard. And I hate to think (or admit) how many times I basically drove off the road due to a lack of sleep the night before, only to be brought back by the rumble strips under my wheels. That's scary, and I think you have had the same experience.

Since I got this unit, though, I fall asleep faster and sleep longer. If I travel and forget to bring my white noise machine with me, I am immediately reminded of how things used to be. I have spent several nights lying awake in a hotel room or at relatives, kicking myself for forgetting to pack the one thing that helps me get to sleep every night.

How it Works

White noise is the kind of sound produced by a fan, or a vacuum cleaner -- a steady, low rush of sound that promotes relaxation prior to sleep. It's thought that this noise might replicate the sound of the womb, triggering a relaxation response deep in our mammalian brain. The sound, by providing a constant, soothing sound for your brain to settle on, lulls you to sleep without you even being aware that it is working. This quiets the mind and keeps you from focusing on other noise, like your partner's snoring or traffic noise outside, that might interfere with the process of falling asleep.

The original Marpac dog dish noise machine
The original Marpac dog dish noise machine

The Marpac Story -- How a Dog Dish Changed the Way You Sleep

Much like the modern running shoes began small (they actually made the prototype with a waffle iron), the home-use noise machine began with a small company in 1962. That's when Jim Buckwalter turned his dog's water dish upside down and placed a small fan inside it. Today, the company makes technologically advanced noise machines, but the principle is the same -- a small fan inside an enclosure. There's nothing digital about it.

Marpac Dohm-DS All Natural Sound Machine, White

Do You Want to Hear What One Sounds Like?

Here's nine hours -- yes, nine hours -- of nothing but blank sound emanating from one of the basic models. In a pinch, you can let your computer or phone run overnight and get similar benefits. You will, however, run down your battery!

Hear it for yourself --

The Best White Noise Machines Keep You in a Deep Sleep State

Research suggests that once you're asleep, hearing this sound all night keeps you in a deeper state of relaxation. The steady whir keeps your brain in a state of peace, drowning out random sounds that would normally wake you up. The benefit for you is sounder sleep and a better state of wakefulness throughout the day.

Everything from better job performance and salary to stronger relationships and emotional stability have been linked to better sleep. There are even links between sleep pathologies, such as sleep apnea, and early death. While a white noise machine may not save your life, I can personally vouch for the fact that it can make your life better. Feeling rested is a precious thing. Lying in bed watching the minutes and hours add up is no way to live.

More Benefits for You

1. MASK DISRUPTIVE NOISES: My white noise machine blocks out noise from the street, as well as sounds from family members getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, etc. We also have a few neighbors who like to party, and there are nights when all that stands between me and a shouting match is the peace and quiet provided by my little noise maker. Other uses include blocking construction noises and lawnmowers.

2. KEEP CONVERSATIONS PRIVATE: In my work, I occasionally need to have conversations that are confidential. I have a white noise machine outside the door of my office, and there are times when the person I'm talking to feels safer due to the privacy we get from having our words masked by the machine.

3. CONCENTRATION: As a study buddy, a noise machine is just about perfect. It never interrupts, it keeps outside noise away, and for some people it improves concentration. If you have some chapters to read, this little unit can help.

Yet Another Benefit: It Helps Babies Fall Asleep

I wish we had one of these machines in those days. The soothing sounds of a white noise machine lulls babies to sleep and produces a consistent, steady sound to mask noises which might otherwise wake them up. Research suggests that soothing, constant noise like a vacuum cleaner, car engine, or fan mimics the sounds of the womb. A white noise machine creates that same sound, and can really help new parents cope with the demands of a little one who just won't close her eyes and give everyone a little rest!

Sleep Like a Baby

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Do You Ever Have Trouble Falling Asleep?

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    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 months ago from Brazil

      What an education. I didn't know these machines existed. I don't have problems sleeping but I know people who do and will mention your article to them.

      I find it interesting that you use this in your line of work too, and that people accept that it muffles the sounds. Great idea.

    • greenmind profile image
      Author

      greenmind 3 months ago

      Hi Thanks Blonde Logic. I was serious when I said I couldn't remember sleeping without one. Now I guess I'm white-noise dependent...

    • profile image

      teaches12345 3 months ago

      I often fall asleep to the noise of a fan and it makes sense that it is similar to a baby's experience in the womb.

    • revmjm profile image

      Article Written By Margaret Minnicks 2 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Interesting article. I learned a lot by reading it. Thanks for sharing it!

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