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Best Sleep Sounds and Music

So, you had another sleepless night.

Whether it was your baby crying and screaming at all hours of the night, the deafening silence in your bedroom, your partner’s snoring, or thoughts that just wouldn’t stop racing, one thing’s for sure: You and your body cannot afford another night like that.

If you’re at the end of your rope—been there, done that—then you’ve probably been researching. Like, a lot of research. And you’ve been reading up on “white noise” and “brown noise,” and their supposed effects on sleep. You really want this to work, but you’re suspicious and jaded by this point.

You’re in luck.

Today, we’ll be talking about how the different “colors” of noise (as well as music) might affect sleep. Then, once you know what you’re getting into, we’ll introduce you to our top white noise/lullaby machine picks!

Rank Product Highlights
#1 Magicteam Sleep Sound White Noise Machine

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  • Customizability: 32 volume levels / 40 sounds
  • Looping: Non-looping
  • Display: Blue LED light
  • Power: AC / USB
  • Additional Features: Timer setting / Memory function
  • Warranty: 18 months
#2 Yachance Baby Star Projector

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  • Customizability: 20 lullaby songs / 9 natural sounds / 8 color effects / 3 brightness levels / 10 volume levels
  • Looping: N/A
  • Display: Timer / Controls / Star display + colors
  • Power: Corded Electric
  • Additional Features: Versatile timer (5-995 minutes) / Remote control / Memory card
  • Warranty: N/A
#3 Calm Me Plug In White Noise Sound Machine

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  • Customizability: 9 sounds / 6 brightness settings
  • Looping: Non-looping
  • Display: Integrated LED / Controls
  • Power: AC / USB
  • Additional Features: Earphone jack / Adjustable timer
  • Warranty: N/A
#4 SNOOZ White Noise Sound Machine

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  • Customizability: 10 volume settings / Tone adjustment
  • Looping: Non-looping
  • Display: Has nightlight setting
  • Power: AC
  • Additional Features: SNOOZ companion app / Nursery calibration / On and off scheduling
  • Warranty: 1 year
#5 Housbay Glows White Noise Sound Machine

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  •  Customizability: 31 sounds / 15 volume levels / 8 nightlight colors
  • Looping: Non-looping
  • Display: Optional nightlight
  • Power: AC / USB
  • Additional Features: Headphone jack / Autosaves settings / Timer
  • Warranty: N/A
#6 Easysleep Sound Noise Machine

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  • Customizability: 25 sounds / 32 volume levels / 5 timer settings / 4 light settings
  • Looping: Non-looping
  • Display: Nightlight
  • Power: AC / USB
  • Additional Features: Memory function
  • Warranty: 18 months

White/Pink/Brown Noise: What You Need to Know

We characterize sound by the “color” of its wavelengths, which is determined by the speed (slow vs. fast) and amplitude (loud vs. soft) of the waves. The reason we label sounds by color is because this is how we categorize light; the spectrum of color we apply to light waves gives us a framework for how to categorize soundwaves.

You can find sounds that fall anywhere along the color spectrum, but there are three colors we’ll be zoning in on today:

  • White noise
  • Pink noise
  • Brown noise

These three sound colors are often claimed to have sleep benefits, but the research is limited and the data inconclusive.

White noise contains all audible frequencies, and these frequencies are distributed equally across the spectrum. Of the three noise colors, white noise is the least deep and it functions to “mask” other noises going on in the background. For this reason, some people find that sleeping in a room with white noise helps them sleep better by keeping other, distracting noises (like nighttime traffic) hidden from their perception during the night. The most famous example of white noise is the sound of a whirring fan.

Pink noise is a type of white noise, as it contains all audible wavelengths. The difference is that pink noise has less volume at high wavelengths and greater volume at low ones. Because pink noise is less “all over the place” than white noise, some people find it easier to fall asleep to. In addition, it’s thought that pink noise can reduce one’s brain waves and thus lead to better deep sleep—this, in turn, equates to better memory retention. A common example of pink noise is the sound of rustling leaves.

Brown noise is similar to pink noise, but has even greater volume at low wavelengths and no volume at high wavelengths. While little research exists about the effects of brown noise on sleep, some people find it relaxing and easy to fall asleep to. An example of brown noise is the sound of thunder rumbling.

What About Music?

Like with white, pink, and brown noise, there is limited research and inconclusive data about the effects of music on sleep. While some people find music to be a sleep disturbance, others find that it helps them fall asleep faster or get higher-quality sleep.

While music with a slow tempo is generally recommended for sleep, studies have shown that another key factor in whether music helps someone sleep is the type of music relative to that person’s preferences. People who chose the music they fell asleep to saw better results than those who had music picked out for them—and this self-chosen music encompassed several different and unrelated genres.

This may be because music, in general, has soothing and relaxing properties. Listening to music is known to aid in the regulation of the stress hormone cortisol (which, in high enough quantities, makes it difficult to sleep at night) and to release the feel-good hormone dopamine. It’s not hard to see how lower levels of stress combined with higher levels of pleasure equate to a good night’s sleep!

Another factor at play here may be a person’s familiarity with the music they’re listening to. If the song or playlist they have on is one they listen to often or one that they know is relaxing for them, it’s more likely to promote lowered stress and heightened feelings of pleasure—and therefore, better sleep.

Customizability

If possible, opt for a white noise machine that provides options for customization. The exact customization abilities will depend on the model—and the price—but a good white noise machine should allow you to…

  • …adjust the volume.
  • …change the tone of the noise.
  • …choose between noise that is mechanical (e.g. whirring fan) or recorded (e.g. birds chirping).

The more options, the better!

Sound Quality

Because the purposes of a white noise machine are to block out sleep-disrupting noises and to induce relaxation, it’s essential that the machine you opt for has good sound quality. The default volume should not be too loud, the sounds should be clear and consistent, and they should be pleasing to your ear. The best way to determine the sound quality of a white noise machine before purchasing is to read what other buyers have said online.

Mechanical Noise vs. Recorded Noise

When shopping around for a white noise machine, you’ll find options that produce either mechanical noise or recorded noise (or sometimes both).

— Mechanical noise

A mechanical noise is one produced by a tangible mechanism within the sound machine itself. For example, many white noise machines have a built-in fan that whirs when the device is turned on.

— Recorded noise

This is noise that has been pre-recorded and is played on the sound machine. Recorded noises can range from gentle rainfall sounds to birds chirping or even thunder rolling.

When it comes to the topic of mechanical vs. recorded noise, there’s no “right” answer. Choose whichever type you think will work best for you, and feel free to play around with different options. Of course, you may also want to consider getting a white noise machine that offers both options—this will provide you with greater flexibility and give you better overall value for your money.

Looping

The pre-recorded tracks on white noise machines usually loop once the track comes to an end. This looping can disrupt your sleep as it causes a sudden change in sound (it’s the constancy of sound that helps you fall and stay asleep). However, you can find machines that have a very smooth transition that will not disturb your sleep—try reading reviews on a product to get an idea of how cleanly it loops.

Display

 

When it comes to the display of your white noise machine, you should make sure that it either 1) has lighting that can be turned off or down, or 2) has no lighting at all. In models with adjustable lighting, you can find units that must be manually adjusted and those that dim or turn off the light automatically. More advanced units also offer multiple colors of lighting that can be adjusted as desired, as well as a clock for added convenience.

Power

You can find battery-operated units, those that are charged via an electrical outlet, and those that can be charged via a USB cord. The type of white noise machine you opt for in this regard should depend on your personal needs and preferences.

Additional Features

While you really only need a simple machine, there are models available that offer advanced features or multiple functionalities. Common examples include white noise machines that offer an alarm clock function, a timer that will automatically turn off the white noise after so much time has passed, and a nightlight function.

Price

Of course, models with advanced features like those described above tend to cost more than simple white noise machines. The average white noise machine will cost around $100, usually less—more advanced models will generally cost upwards of $100.

Warranty

If possible, opt for a white noise machine that comes with some sort of warranty. Many units come with a 1-year warranty, though you can find ones with a 5-year warranty. Having a decent warranty on your white noise machine will give you better peace of mind and ensure you’re covered in case the machine is defective or stops working. A good warranty is also an indicator of a quality product.

 

The Best Sleep Sounds and Music

1. Magicteam Sleep Sound White Noise Machine

SPECS:

  • Customizability: 32 volume levels / 40 sounds
  • Looping: Non-looping
  • Display: Blue LED light
  • Power: AC / USB
  • Additional Features: Timer setting / Memory function
  • Warranty: 18 months

Best for: Sound variety

The Magicteam Sleep Sound White Noise Machine is the best choice for anyone who want lots of sound and music options. This little device can play a whopping 40 different tracks, from general white noise to piano music and even train noises. The volume has 32 levels of adjustability to ensure you get just the right ambiance for your slumber, and the tracks are non-looping so you’ll never have to worry about a sudden sound shift interrupting your sleep. To make your life even easier, this white noise machine has a memory function that saves all the settings (volume, sound, time) from your previous use. The device’s cute, clean, and compact design is just the cherry on the top!

Pros Cons
  • Lots of customizability
  • Great sound quality
  • Compact design
  • Simple functionality
  • Must click through each sound
  • Bright LED light

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2. Yachance Baby Star Projector, Night Light, and White Noise Machine

SPECS:

  • Customizability: 20 lullaby songs / 9 natural sounds / 8 color effects / 3 brightness levels / 10 volume levels
  • Looping: N/A
  • Display: Timer / Controls / Star display + colors
  • Power: Corded Electric
  • Additional Features: Versatile timer (5-995 minutes) / Remote control / Memory card
  • Warranty: N/A

Best for: Babies and toddlers

Looking for an affordable way to lull your little one to sleep? The Yachance Baby Star Projector, Night Light, and White Noise Machine might just be your best bet!

This adorable spaceship-shaped white noise machine boasts incredible customizability, with 9 natural sounds, 20 lullabies, a memory card you can record MP3 songs onto, several brightness and volume settings, and 8 display colors to choose from. In addition to playing a variety of soothing sounds and music, the device has a rotating function that spins the star projections 360 degrees around the room to help your little one drift off with ease. You can adjust settings easily using the included remote controller (which parents have been raving about, by the way). This noise machine also serves double-duty as a nightlight and it’s crafted from non-toxic and BPA-free materials. Purchase yours today in one of four sweet colors—blue, pink, white, and pure white—and be amazed at how quickly your child falls asleep! 

  • Remote controller
  • Starry sky projections
  • Also functions as nightlight
  • Non-toxic, BPA-free materials
  • 4 color options
  • Rotating function not reliable
  • Some units arrive defective

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3. Calm Me Plug In White Noise Sound Machine

SPECS:

  • Customizability: 9 sounds / 6 brightness settings
  • Looping: Non-looping
  • Display: Integrated LED / Controls
  • Power: AC / USB
  • Additional Features: Earphone jack / Adjustable timer
  • Warranty: N/A

Best for: Ease of use

The Calm Me Plug In White Noise Sound Machine is versatile, featuring nine different non-looping sounds that are ideal for children and adults alike. Due to its compact design and USB charging capability, you can not only place this sound machine in your bedroom with ease but also carry it with you to work or the yoga studio. The device itself is super-easy to use: There are nine buttons on the front (one for each sound) and five buttons on (an on/off button, two volume buttons, a brightness button, a timer button). This really is a push-and-play type of device! You’ll also appreciate the headphone jack, which will allow you to listen without disturbing your partner or coworkers. You can purchase this noise machine in one of three adorable colors: Classic White, Cinderella Pink, and Sky Blue.

Pros Cons
  • Simple, compact design
  • Easy to use
  • Many brightness levels
  • Timer with 4 settings
  • 3 color options
  • Issues with prongs sticking in wall

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4. SNOOZ White Noise Sound Machine

SPECS:

  • Customizability: 10 volume settings / Tone adjustment
  • Looping: Non-looping
  • Display: Has nightlight setting
  • Power: AC
  • Additional Features: SNOOZ companion app / Nursery calibration / On and off scheduling
  • Warranty: 1 year

Best for: App compatibility

Though a bit pricier than the other models on our list, the SNOOZ White Noise Sound Machine has a lot going for it—and rave reviews to boot! First of all, this device is specialized in that it only produces fan sounds (perfect if you’re a fan sleeper looking to lower your monthly bill). You can adjust the tone of the fan sound to best match your preferences and sleep needs, and there are ten volume settings to choose from. Because this sound machine uses an actual fan to produce the noise, you can rest assured that it will sound natural and you won’t have to worry about your sleep being disrupted by looping.

But really, this is only the beginning.

Other things that will make you fall in love with this sound machine are its attractive design, simple controls, app compatibility, additional setting features (such as an on-off scheduler), and…wait for it…nursery calibration. Yep, it even has special settings you can apply to use it in the nursery without hurting your baby’s ears. Order yours today in a delightful Cloud or Charcoal color, and never look back! 

Pros Cons
  • Sleek, attractive design
  • Easy to use
  • Different fan tones
  • Very portable
  • Special settings for nursery
  • Optional app compatibility
  • Only fan sounds
  • Runs quietly

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5. Housbay Glows White Noise Sound Machine

SPECS:

  •  Customizability: 31 sounds / 15 volume levels / 8 nightlight colors
  • Looping: Non-looping
  • Display: Optional nightlight
  • Power: AC / USB
  • Additional Features: Headphone jack / Autosaves settings / Timer
  • Warranty: N/A

Best for: Versatility

The Housbay Glows White Noise Sound Machine is wonderful for so many reasons.

This device is versatile—serving babies, toddlers, older kids, adults, and seniors with equal tenacity—and it features 31 high-quality, non-looping recordings in a variety of categories. You can find some pretty unique sounds here, too, such as the fetal tone which is ideal for your baby. This sound machine has a nightlight function that can easily be turned on or off (available in 8 color options) to best suit your sleep needs, and the timer function allows you to leave it running for 1-3 hours (or continuously). At the end of the timer cycle, the device gradually fades away instead of stopping immediately; this will help keep you or your young’un sound asleep during the transition. Throw in the headphone jack and autosave feature, and you have one of the best white noise machines on the market!

Pros Cons
  • High-quality speakers
  • Compact, portable design
  • A few unique sounds
  • Soothing nightlight colors
  • Gradual fading at end of timer
  • Some users didn’t like the ‘wave’ sound

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6. Easysleep Sound Noise Machine

SPECS:

  • Customizability: 25 sounds / 32 volume levels / 5 timer settings / 4 light settings
  • Looping: Non-looping
  • Display: Nightlight
  • Power: AC / USB
  • Additional Features: Memory function
  • Warranty: 18 months

Best for: Warm lighting

The Easysleep Sound Noise Music Machine provides an array of calming, non-looping sounds that range from lullaby music to the crackling of a bonfire—so whether you need some soothing music for nursing time or want to feel like you’re sleeping in the great outdoors, this device has got you covered. This machine also has 32 volume settings and 5 timer settings that allow you to really fine-tune the device to your needs, and doing so is easy due to the large buttons on front. The X factor here is the device’s use of warm light in its nightlight function; the warm hue helps promote sleep rather than disturb it! And, like the previous model we saw, this one fades gradually at the end of its timer cycle so you aren’t jolted awake by a sudden change in noise. You’ll be sleeping in bliss, friend.

Pros Cons
  •  Attractive, compact design
  • Uses warm light
  • Large buttons
  • Gradual fading at end of timer
  • Light is a little too bright for some users

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Conclusion

In this article, you learned a little bit about how different “colors” of noise affect sleep and about the science behind music for sleep. We also outlined for you what to look for in a quality sound machine and introduced you to our top picks.

We hope the information we provided here was useful to you, and that you’re already getting prepared for a great night’s sleep. But let us know in the comments if you still have any questions or concerns, and we’ll be glad to help!

The most important thing to remember: The best sound machine is the one that meets your personal needs and preferences, at a price you can afford.

Photo credit: Fit Ztudio/Shutterstock