Being able to fall asleep quickly without any aids is an enviable skill, and a truly good night’s rest seems hard to come by lately. Since lockdown, the sleep aid market has been flooded with many sleep products: from lavender pillow sprays to weighted blankets and silk sleep masks.
But many insomniacs swear by white noise machines. Researchers have found that white noise can help people fall asleep almost 40 per cent faster, children and adults alike. It can even help kids concentrate on their schoolwork, or professionals working from home.
White noise is a term you may have come across before, but a lot of the sounds you may consider to be “white noise” may actually be pink noise or brown noise.
Healthline defines white noise to be a steady humming sound that has equal distribution across all audible frequencies like a whirring fan or radio static which is great for masking unwanted sleep disturbances.
Of course, there is an app for that. Isn’t there always? You can find many white noise apps that work fairly well, but if you are trying to avoid too much screen time before bed this may pose an issue. Failing that you could just search “rain sounds” on YouTube only to be jolted awake by YouTube ads. This is where white noise machines come in.
There are a few things to consider when purchasing a white noise machine. Do you or your little one need a night light to help you drift off? How long do you need the sound to last for – will you doze off in 20 minutes, or do you need it to last all night? A lot of white noise machines are now an essential component to the new techy alarm clocks that are now a bedroom essential.
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The best white noise machines for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Eve Sleep morphee sleep aid: £79, Evesleep.co.uk
- Best screenless design – Loftie digital alarm clock: £138.99, Store.moma.org
- Best for travellers – Yogasleep travel mini portable white noise sound machine: £34.95, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for wake up clock – Lumie bodyclock luxe 700FM: £170, Lumie.com
- Best for simple and classic – Marpac dohm white noise sound machine: £45.45, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for noisy environments – Lectrofan: £77.99, Soundofsleep.co.uk
- Best white noise machine for babies – Moonie noising rabbit with a light: £65, Kidly.co.uk
- Best for all you could ask for – Philips somneo sleep and wake-up light: £188.36, Philips.co.uk
- Best for older kids – Hatch baby rest sound machine: £59.99, Amazon.co.uk
Eve Sleep morphee sleep aid
Our addiction to screens is a well-documented cause of sleep disturbance. The mattress brand Eve Sleep has gone against the grain with this entirely screen-free and low-tech design. The natural beech style, adorned with three gold keys that each have a unique function is a sophisticated yet simplistic system: the first lets you pick a theme, the second is for the session you’d like to do (explained in the nifty book that comes with the device), and the third lets you choose a duration ranging from eight to 20 minutes.
Our tester loved this quirky white noise machine – it looked so stylish on the nightstand and the pared-back style was a welcome break from the phones and laptops of the waking day. The sound quality wasn’t the best on the list, but for such a little machine we wouldn’t expect too much. The sound was better when using the headphones – a great feature for those who don’t want to disturb sleeping partners.
Loftie digital alarm clock
Best: Screenless design
Small, sleek and screenless, the Loftie alarm clock is perfect for those who are looking to turn off from their devices when they turn in. Our tester loved the extra features of this alarm clock. Being able to connect to your Spotify was a really nice touch and great for those who like to fall asleep to music and the night light was ideal for creating a soothing sleep environment. There was a wide array of soothing sounds to fall asleep to – from nature sounds to white noise, to sound baths to breathwork. Our testers personal favourite was the storm sound, and got off to sleep in only a half hour.
This incredibly sensible little machine has thought of everything: the white noise function fades out before the alarm goes off, so your brain doesn’t get mixed messages in the morning. This looks great on the bedside too, if you don’t like too much clutter or distraction.
Yogasleep travel mini portable white noise sound machine
Best: For travellers
Weighing in at only 5oz, this baby white noise machine has six options for sound; white noise, brown noise, Dohm sound, gentle surf, stream and thunderstorm. Our reviewer was a big fan of the thunderstorm sound as it brought back some nostalgia of storms as a child – watching the rain hit the windows while snug in bed.
Don’t expect amazing sound quality, but for a machine that can fit in the palm of your hand this is perfect for those on the go, and from backpacking travellers to busy parents who need a sleep aid for their baby while on holiday. Also, the amber night light is a soothing addition.
Lumie bodyclock luxe 700FM
Best: For wake up clock and white noise machine combo
Lumie wake up clock’s gained popularity during lockdown when seemingly everyone was struggling to maintain their regular sleep schedule and it’s easy to see why. The design is sleek and stylish, and with a good sound system to boot. There are 20 sound options, ranging from Skylarks to whirring movie projectors, with waves being our testers personal favourite. The fading sunset light feature works wonders and slowly lulls you into a slumber.
The controls are a little bit fiddly but once our tester got the hang of it the sleep programme was customisable with plenty of options. One drawback of the Lumie was that the white noise/sleep programme lasts for 20, 30 or 45 minutes, so if like our tester you spend a lot of sleepless hours staring at the ceiling, the thought of having to get up each time may dissuade you. But it can certainly help you get your sleep time down to military precision.
Marpac dohm white noise sound machine
Best: For simple and classic
Marpac has been making “sound conditioners” since 1962. The Dohm has stayed true to the simple philosophy; this white noise comes with no gimmicks or different soundscapes – it is a straightforward ambient sound of rushing air. It resembles the whirring of an air conditioning unit, and works all night to keep you asleep and drown out any unexpected noises during the night, and we can confirm we slept like a log. Our tester really appreciated the customisation level for the pitch, it allows for users to find that sweet spot hum to lull you to sleep.
Best: For noisy environments
This is a great bit of kit for a very reasonable price. The USB cord is handy as it can be plugged into your laptop, which would be convenient on your travels, and also works well if you are someone who gets distracted while working from home. Although our tester thinks that the Lectrofan is perhaps a little clunky to take with you on most adventures.
Our tester, whose flat is on a busy main road (which at times can be a slightly unfavourable sleep environment) found that this machine masked the shop across the roads’ early morning deliveries and the rowdy revellers from the pub on the corner. The white noise machine is also great at sound masking for private zoom calls.
This model has either fan sounds or white noise sounds and both have ten unique, non-repeating sound variations with adjustable volume control. What sets this apart from the other white noise machines on this list is that the sounds are “dynamically generated” by an algorithm, which our tester appreciated and found that her sleep was not disturbed by the annoying loop of recordings that white noise YouTube videos often have.
Moonie noising rabbit with a light
Best: White noise machine for babies
Now, this is too cute! This soft little bunny plays soothing white noise sounds from its stomach, also it features a light-up belly that functions as a night light. Suitable for children from birth, this white noise machine emits five types of white and pink noise; rain, womb, deep ocean, sea waves and wind – carefully chosen by paediatric researchers.
It is ready to go near enough straight out the box, with easy-peasy USB charging (meaning no scrambling for batteries) and requiring just a squeeze of the belly to change modes. So simple a child could do it, which our little 3-year-old tester did! The product advertises that it has a “cry sensor” that immediately starts playing the white noise again to soothe a restless little one. However, we can’t attest to that as our little tester had no problems falling and staying asleep – a miracle in our books.
The changing, coloured lights were a nice touch and created a peaceful sleepy atmosphere. It also meant that mum and dad can peek their head in to check in on their sleeping angel without turning the lamp on, as the bunny provides just the right amount of light. You can either set the light to a simple white light or the rotating rainbow colours, which was a little annoying as our little tester only wanted the blue light but nonetheless a great feature.
Philips somneo sleep and wake-up light
Best: All you could ask for
This is an all-singing, all-dancing, cool bit of kit and for nearly £200, it should be. It is your reading light, your radio and your phone charger, the Somneo will wake you up in the morning and tuck you in to bed and send you to sleep of an evening.
On first impression, this product is a lot bigger than originally thought and, depending on your bedside table space, may be a little overwhelming for some. The design is very futuristic, a touch black mirror-esque, and is more of a standout piece of furniture or contemporary sculpture in its own right
While the design may not be to everyone’s taste, this clever tech certainly works. The sunset simulation programme primes your body to sleep by slowly decreasing light and playing optional sound to your set duration, gently sending you off into the land of nod. Our tester really liked how customisable the sleep guide was, so for those who really struggle with their sleep this is ideal. Another notable feature was the breathe setting which functions like guided meditation; the Somneo brightens and dims the light so you can match your breaths to it for bedtime relaxation. If modern design and cool tech is your thing you’ll love this.
Hatch baby rest sound machine
Best: For older kids
As opposed to the Moonie rabbit (£65, Amazon.co.uk) this white noise machine is less obviously for kids; it has the sleek, minimalist design of a more adult alarm clock but still is a great night light for those still a bit afraid of the dark. Equally, it could be used for an outside crib white noise machine, if you are wary about having the Moonie rabbit invading your little one’s space as they sleep.
The Hatch baby rest can be programmed to turn on automatically, can easily be adjusted remotely via the Hatch baby rest app – meaning parents can get those precious extra few moments in bed. Plus, this cute little machine can help establish healthy sleep time schedules with light changes and soothing soundscapes. It could really grow with your child and with your child’s needs, from sleepy ambient lullabies for your baby’s night time feeds, all the way to snooze-inducing nature soundscapes.
There were 11 sounds to choose from: white noise, rain, water stream, wind, ocean waves, birds, dryer, forest and lullabies. This one is great for parents whose voices are hoarse from lullabies and need a bit of a break.
The verdict: White noise machines
While there are some great machines on the list, Eve Sleep’s screen-free and quirky design, and earphone function separates it from the rest. But it is the exhaustive options for white noise, breath sounds and nature sounds that will suit just about everyone helps it snag the top spot.
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