how and why to choose a white noise machine

White noise devices help block out ambient noise, which can help some people sleep. Some people also use white noise machines to help them focus or to calm young children.

What is a white noise device?

White noise devices emit sounds designed to help people relax or fall asleep. White noise has a fixed frequency and pitch, which can mask distracting sounds like snoring, outside neighborhood noise, or thunderstorms. People can use portable white noise machines to block out sounds when they travel or work.

Benefits of white noise machines

White noise machines can promote restful sleep, improve cognitive abilities, and help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) focus on tasks. A small 2020 study found that listening to 75-decibel white noise helped elementary school students with ADHD focus in class and adopt better sleep practices at home, even though white noise was only heard during class. Writing about how white noise can improve sleep for people living in noisy environments, the authors of a small study from 2021 said white noise machines helped reduce sleep disturbance.

A 2016 study looking at the effect of white noise on people with coronary care found that white noise machines also helped participants block out ambient noise. White noise also reduced the time it took them to fall asleep and increased the quality and duration of their sleep.

Additionally, a 2017 study found that the use of white noise in learning exercises helped adults without health or cognitive problems remember and retain new words better than those without white noise. This suggests that white noise machines can improve cognitive performance.

How to choose a white noise machine

Here are some factors to consider when buying a white noise machine:

– Non-repetitive sounds: Some people may find it easier to fall asleep if the white noise machine plays non-repetitive sounds.

– Volume and pitch control: You may want to purchase a machine that allows you to adjust the volume and pitch of sounds.

– Sleep timers: Some people may wish to purchase a white noise machine that has a sleep timer. These devices automatically stop transmitting sounds after a set period of time.

– Headphone connectivity: People who share their room with other people may want to purchase a white noise machine that has a headphone jack or Bluetooth connectivity.

– Projection of images: Some devices project images on the wall while emitting sounds. This can be beneficial for babies and young children.

– Price: You have to take into account your budget when buying a white noise machine. More expensive devices can generate a wider range of white and ambient sounds, such as the sound of the ocean.

How to use a white noise machine

One can use white noise machines to block out ambient noise when you want to sleep, work, or travel.
Although each white noise machine may have a different user manual, it generally requires:

1 Plug in the machine or insert batteries and turn it on.
2 Scroll through the sounds.
3 Adjust the volume and frequency of sounds.
4 Set a sleep timer.

If a person wears headphones, they should connect them to the white noise machine.

Can white noise be harmful?

Although white noise can be beneficial, people should pay attention to the volume of white noise on their machine. Especially if they use it to calm babies.
A 2014 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that white noise machines can make noises loud enough, if set incorrectly, to cause hearing damage in babies. This level of noise can also affect certain aspects of development, such as speech and language development.

Therefore, parents and caregivers should use white noise machines:

– at the lowest volume setting
– for short periods
– remotely, placing the machine as far as possible from the child.

White noise machines with a sleep timer automatically turn off the noise once the baby has fallen asleep.
Adults should not increase the volume of a white noise machine above 70 decibels. . Any sound above 85 decibels can cause long-term hearing damage.

Other options

A range of white noise apps are available on smartphones and other smart devices. People may prefer an app as a more portable alternative to a white noise machine.

Alternative methods of masking disturbing noises while resting or sleeping include sleep headphones and earplugs.
In addition to masking noises, people can try other methods to induce sleep, such as:

– go to bed at the same time every day
– do something relaxing before bed, like take a warm bath
– use blackout blinds or curtains to block light into the room
– minimize background noise and disturbance
– soundproof the bedroom if the person lives in a noisy environment.

If a person can’t sleep because of another family member’s snoring, they can use earplugs. If possible, people can reduce the risk of snoring by avoiding drinking alcohol before bed and sleeping on their back. Sleeping on your side or with your head slightly elevated can also help.

Frequently Asked Questions about White Noise Devices

Is it better to sleep without a white noise device?

Whether you sleep with or without a white noise device is a matter of personal preference. White noise can help people fall asleep faster and give them more restful sleep. Some people may use a white noise machine to block out ambient noise at work or while traveling.

What is the best white noise machine?

There is no better white noise device. People should consider their individual needs when purchasing a white noise machine. Some people will prefer a portable machine, while others will prefer a product with a wider range of sounds.

Is rain white noise?

Many white noise machines feature rain sounds. However, rain is pink noise because it usually has a lower frequency than white noise.


White noise machines can help improve sleep quality and concentration for adults and children. Many white noise machines are available with various extra features, including sleep timers, natural sounds, and portability. However, while white noise machines can be beneficial, they can cause hearing damage if a person uses them for long periods of time. They can also exceed the volume limits that experts recommend for babies. Therefore, it is recommended to use white noise machines at a low volume and to place the device away from the bed or crib.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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