Not everyone is a sound sleeper. Many people have trouble going to sleep. In most cases, the outside noises and bustling nightlife can be extremely distracting to those in need of rest. In other situations, it’s the unnerving silence that keeps you alert and awake even when it’s dark.
What if there was a solution to both ends of this issue? Some way to keep the outdoor sound away and the room filled with light noise? Fortunately, there is a way to do this, and it’s through a Sleep Sound Machine.
What is a Sleep Sound Machine?
The name says it all. A sleep sound machine is a machine that produces background sound to cloud over the outside hustle (or the complete silence) so you can sleep better. It can become bothersome if you have a loud pet or your partner snores. These sounds can wake you up and ruin your sleep. A consistent flow of soft sound running throughout the night can help keep you asleep.
The sound coming from your machine can be anything. It can either be soft music of your choice, the patter of rain, the blowing of wind, or even the soothing ocean waves.
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Different Types of Noises
Finding the right noise to put you to sleep isn’t an easy task. There are multiple different sounds you can come across. Some may be soft while other are harsher and bolder. Sound machines that help you sleep typically come with smoother, softer sounds that easily blend into the background.
There are two parts to sound, the frequency and the amplitude. The frequency refers to how many vibrations the sound wave creates every second. The amplitude is the measurement of the sound wave’s size. Sound is categorized into colors to determine what type of noise is occurring. Here, we’ll briefly discuss the different sound colors;
White noise is the most likely claim you’ll pass by each time you come across a sleep sound machine. They are also given the name of ‘white noise machine.’ What makes white noise unique is the fact that it doesn’t alter with frequency, it’ll stay at the same volume. It combines all the sounds around your ear into one symphony. While many products will claim that their product is complete white noise, this is almost never the case.
White noise will align with all other sounds around it, which means it’ll either be acutely high or awfully low. This can become too brash for human ears to listen to after a long time, like while you sleep. The real sound most products are selling is pink noise.
Pink noise is a more delicate sound than white noise. Each octave steadily decreases in volume to keep the noise in a hushed manner. This keeps a consistent sound flowing while you sleep so you don’t wake to any sudden changes in noise.
Another sound close to pink noise is brown or red noise. This sound declines at a faster rate than pink noise for a deeper and more bass sound. This is most likely what you’re hearing when you use a sound machine for sleep. This type of sound resembles waves or a low breeze.
Blue noise, or violet noise is the opposite of pink sound. Rather than going down with each octave, these increase at a more rapid rate. There is much less bass to the sound and rather more hiss in its voice. Blue noise is commonly used to clean out tracks and removes any odd distortions that may occur in audio.
Black and Grey Noise
These two noises are very different from the others. For starters, grey noise is equal at any state of frequency. The volume will increase and/or decrease depending on the frequency so the sound will always match up and sound exactly the same. This sound is always at one constant volume, like static.
Black noise is the opposite of total sound (white noise) and that is complete silence.
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How Can a Sleep Sound Machine Help Your Sleep?
No reliable information comes without any reliable research. There have been multiple studies that have attempted to test white and pink noise. Pink noise has been found to improve deep, restful sleep in contrast to waking up to every sound around you.
A sleep sound machine is usually the best solution to mask noises all around you. You’ll come to realize that the quieter your sleeping environment is, the harder it is to block out noises around you. Your hearing sense becomes more aware of all the sounds that echo in the night.
A sound machine won’t remove these noises completely but help divert your attention from them. The sounds coming from the machine will be much more calming and continuous, so your mind will keep track of the sound machine until you’re swayed into sleep.
Do Sleep Sound Machines Work for Everyone?
There are particular groups of people a sound machine can help. For starters, people who travel can benefit from carrying a sound machine with themselves. If you are constantly up in the air or hitting the road, then a sound machine can help minimize the effect of noise pollution on you. You may not notice it, but noise pollution can result in heightened levels of hypertension.
If you live in a noisy urban area, then you’re no stranger to the horrid traffic and cacophonous neighbors. The whole world seems to be trying to keep you awake, but with a sound machine you can effectively block it all out. With all the hectic noises around you, there is a likely chance you have stress, anxiety, and even hypertension. A sound machine will blunt these noises at night so they won’t make as harmful an impact on you as they could.
Newborn children and toddlers can also benefit from having background noises in their bedroom. It can help calm them down after a long day. Children with autism can also benefit from white noises in the background. It’ll keep them in a deeper, more relaxed sleep than they would have if the sounds of the city were constantly interrupting their night.
You should be cautious, however. There are side effects to be aware of. Too much white noise can seriously damage a child’s brain development. They may lose the ability of locating where a sound is coming from, and their general sensory system can numb after a while. They won’t have proper spatial awareness, and their hearing may become slow and hard.
Children who have ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder) can also find solace with a sound machine. Most children who have ADHD will also have a hard time going to sleep and staying asleep long enough. Disorders such as insomnia, RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome), and sleep-disordered breathing are very possible in this case. These sleep disorders can even seep into adults with ADHD.
With a machine that can help create soothing sounds to calm you during the night, a restful sleep is easier to attain.
Tinnitus is a disorder in which people constantly hear a ringing in their ears. This sound can be buzzing, hissing, clicking, or ringing sensation. It is considerably easier to ignore tinnitus throughout the day, but it becomes much harder at night when the world outside winds down. To distract your mind from the constant ringing, professionals provide tinnitus patients with a white noise machine.
Setting all disorders and situations aside, sometimes a sound machine is exactly what a light sleeper might need. In your subconscious, your brain is still working and on the lookout for anything to catch. The slightest noise can jolt your brain back into action, even if it was just a sneeze! With a sound machine nearby, your brain latches onto the sound the machine creates, distracted from all the other sounds occurring in the background.
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Features to Consider When You Purchase a Sleep Sound Machine
One thing you will definitely notice is that there are a lot of options on the market. Sound machines have been around for some time and they are only becoming more popular now that awareness has increased for their benefits.
To find the perfect machine that will suit your needs, you have to know everything you’re about to come across. Walking into the market with no preparation can be intimidating. You might be overwhelmed with all the features and accessories to choose from. To help you out, here are some key features you need to focus on when selecting a sound machine.
The most basic feature to investigate; can the volume be modified? Sound is not a one-level-suits-all situation. There are different levels which people can tolerate, some people need louder sounds while others will only want a soft whisper in the back. Make sure you can adjust the volume of the machine to get the best setting for yourself and your partner.
The size of the machine will also make a difference to your final choice. If you want it to be transportable, then you’ll want something small enough to fit in your bag or even pocket. If you know the machine is going nowhere beyond your bedside, then measure your side tables and figure out how much space you have. You can now look for a machine that fits and still leaves some convenient tablespace.
A big issue with sound machines is how well they hide their looping. Most of the time, it’s one loop of sound that plays over and over again. If the end of the loop is easy to detect, then it’s possible that the abrupt end or change in note will wake you up. Better loops are hidden so your subconscious can’t detect it and the noise is continuous.
Some machines have an alarm system integrated in them so you can set a designated time for the sound to end. Usually, this helps you wake up as well since your brain was calmed by the noise coming from the machine. These kinds of alarms have to be subtle to wake you up in a pleasant manner, not jolt your brain into action.
The timer system is different from the alarm system. With immense nuance, your sound machine will turn off and not wake you up. After a certain period of time, once you have fallen asleep the machine’s sound will fade away and turn off, saving power in the long-run. It won’t wake you up when it turns off, and it ensures your machine doesn’t continue playing even after you’ve woken up and started your day.
There are three common power sources sound machines use these days. The simplest one is the corded option which is connected to an outlet on the wall. If your machine is fixed, then this will be no problem. If you’re looking for a more transportable option, then you should look for a battery-powered model. Finally, there are machines that can be powered through a USB cord, which means you can attach them to a computer.
Questions to Ask Yourself
There are some questions you should ask yourself before you buy a sleep sound machine. These questions will help you find exactly what you’re looking for, and whether or not a machine is the right way to go.
- Is the machine for a child or an adult?
- Do you need it to be portable? If so, how big or small do you need it to be?
- How variable are the sounds on the machine, and do you have a preferred volume?
- Do you want your sound machine to perform as an alarm as well?
- What is your budget for a sound machine?
- Is there a warranty included in your purchase, or a return/exchange/refund policy?
- Can headphones and/or earbuds be used with this machine?
- Is it battery powered or corded?
What Can You Use Besides a Sleep Sound Machine?
There are some people who just can’t adjust to the constant sounds of a machine, which is fine. If you believe you are one of these people, then there are other solutions you can try out to see if they help you sleep better.
Probably the most standard go-to option when you want to block out sound, earplugs are the simplest choice on the list. Earplugs are soft and adjustable, so they’ll fit in your ears snugly through the night. Some earplugs will conform to the shape of your inner ear while others are shaped to fit the general earlobe.
Earplugs are made out of foam or silicone to help block out surrounding sounds. They can be for one-time use, or reusable. Using earplugs too much can have certain side effects. It can promote earwax buildup, cause tinnitus, and even result in hearing loss.
Another easy way to go is by using a fan to create white noise. This soft noise will blunt out other sounds around you, and your mind can focus steadily on one sound. This can help lull you to sleep and prevent your brain from latching onto other noises.
Not only will they give you sound, fans can also cool down your sleeping space to make it more comfortable and inviting. These can either be ceiling fans or a table fan you take out in the warmer seasons.
You don’t have to buy a whole machine if you feel it’s too out of the way. Have your phone or tablet nearby when you sleep and play some white noises from there. You can play your own music or select soothing sounds from given libraries. There are also various apps you can install for the very purpose of finding white noise.
Let’s face it, sometimes the reason you’re always awake is lying right beside you. If both you are your partner are aware of the snores, then the right solution might be to simply invest in some nasal strips. This can help open up the nasal passageway and prevent the blockage that was causing the snoring in the first place.
It will help you sleep pleasantly, and your partner will breathe easier at night.
Any of the above can help you stay asleep at night instead of using a machine. They either mask noises or block them out almost entirely so you can sleep peacefully.
You may want to read: Review of the Best Sound Machines
Sound machines are spreading over the market. They come in all shapes and sizes, with different features that may satisfy different requirements. In the end, it’s all up to you to find the perfect sleep sound machine for you.
They may not be heavily scientifically backed, but they have been proven time and again to help people get a more restful and healthful rest. And let’s face it, who doesn’t need more of that? If you enjoyed this article, then be sure to comment and share it with your friends and family that need a nudge in the right direction towards better sleep. Don’t forget to mention anything we might have missed and your experience with a sleep sound machine!