Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

Do I need white noise or a sound machine to Sleep?

Having trouble sleeping?

words by: Natasha Marsh
Feb 17, 2022

Although I love my NYC apartment, there is one thing that always irritates me before going to bed. Due to either bad pipes, or the rubbing of the pipes together when attempting to regulate the temperature inside the home—or so I read on Google—my apartment (and the building for that matter), makes a lot of sounds.


A friend of mine suggested I try falling asleep to the soothing hum of white noise. To which I responded, “White what?” To the uninitiated (read: me), white noise consists of low, medium, and high-frequency sounds played together at the same intensity level. White noise machines help mask other sounds, making it helpful for people who live in loud neighborhoods, or in my case, buildings. Intrigued, I decided to do more research. Below is what I found.


What is white noise?

To make white noise, every frequency the human ear can hear is played at random at the same amplitude. The result is a “shh” sound that is often associated with radio static. Some believe it sounds like a whirring fan or air conditioning unit, but it really doesn’t.


Some sounds that are said to be white noise are actually different colors of noise. The most common example: Pink noise. The amplitude of pink noise decrease by half every time the frequency doubles. The result: A blend of intense low-frequency tones and softer high-frequency tones.


Red noise is also occasionally confused with white noise. Red noise decreases in intensity as it increases in frequency. It produces a low rumbling sound. The best color for sleep is of course at your discretion. We recommend experimenting with different sound frequencies till you find what you like.


So what are the benefits of a white noise machine?

A white noise machine is set to decrease sleep onset, extend sleep duration, and improve overall sleep quality. Meaning, you won’t hear anything disruptive, like slamming doors, or, say, loud apartment walls. Instead, the change in sound consistency goes from soft to loud, and is strong enough that it won’t interrupt your sleep.


Experts swear by its ability to create a blanket of sound, masking anything in its way. Since white noise is an actual sound, it is also beneficial for people who don’t enjoy sleeping in complete silence. White noise machines have been said to help people fall asleep faster 40% more that people who don’t use one.


Cool, so how do I pick a white noise machine?

So now that you know the benefits, how do you select one? A white noise machine, also known as a sound machine, is one of the most effect and relaxing tools for your sleep environment. Most machines cost less than $100, and are lightweight and compact. You can even find some that are small enough to travel with.


Some sound machines have programed timers that automatically shut off at a certain time, while others loop their sounds at the beginning and end to create a continuous listening experience. Others sound machines even have a built-in alarm system to wake you up when desired.


All you need to do is decide what factors you need, and find the machine that’s best for you. And if you’d rather not purchase a white noise machine, you can always download a free app on your phone instead and get the same benefits.


Did you know that even LEGO made a white noise playlist? Here’s some more tips on how to create the optimal sleeping environment.


Photo via Glamour Magazine