The 8 Best Sound Machines for Sleep of 2021

Drift off to sweet dreams

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Our Top Picks
The sound envelops you in soothing white noise without getting too loud.
This device features 31 sound options, including ocean waves, rain, bird sounds, and general white noise.
Will soothe your child during long road trips.
Produces a wide range of toddler-friendly sounds.
The adjustable nightlight is perfect for new mothers who need quick access in and out of their baby's room.
Will ease your nighttime routine.
You’ll be able to find the perfect sound to nix snoring noise.
Perfect for anyone who wants less nightstand clutter.

Getting a good night's sleep is easier said than done, and sometimes, we need a little extra help to get some shut-eye. While there are plenty of sleep aids on the market, some people want a natural, non-medicated method for getting a healthy night's rest. If you have trouble falling asleep or are easily awakened during the night, many sleep specialists recommend a sleep machine.

White noise is one of the most popular sounds featured in sound machines. It's similar to that of a box fan or air conditioner, and studies have shown that using white noise throughout the night can result in a longer, more restful night's sleep. But if white noise doesn't do it for you, there are plenty of other equally peaceful options available.

Whether you are a white noise fanatic or more of a natural sound kind of sleeper, you'll be able to find a sleep machine that fits your specific needs here.

Best Overall: Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine

Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine
Pros
  • Non-looping sound

  • Adjustable tone and volume

  • Compact design

Cons
  • No nightlight

  • Not the most long lasting

  • No additional features

Light sleepers searching for the ultimate white noise machine will find a restful night with Marpac’s Dohm model. This machine boasts a dual-speed motor with a unique asymmetrical fan and acoustic housing to recreate the sound of rushing air.

The resulting sound envelops you in soothing white noise without getting too loud. The tone and volume are fully adjustable and the compact, unobtrusive design fits on a nightstand, bookshelf, or anywhere else you need peace and quiet. Its simple, yet effective, mechanical design means you won’t need to worry about glitches or skips that you might experience with sound machines that have digital bells and whistles.

Number of Sound Effects: 1 | Additional Features: None

Best Budget: AIRSEE White Noise Machine with Baby Night Light

Pros
  • Affordably priced

  • Multiple sound options

  • Great for kids and adults

Cons
  • Soundloop is noticeable

  • No all-night option

If you're looking for something that fits your budget while still giving you the same quality night's sleep, the AIRSEE Sound Machine and Night Light is worth your money. This device features 31 sound options, including ocean waves, rain, bird sounds, and general white noise. It also gives buyers options with a variety of timer settings if you don't want the machine running all night. The AIRSEE Sound Machine doubles as a night light, so adults and children alike can enjoy its useful features.

Number of Sound Effects: 31 | Additional Features: Nightlight, timer, memory function

I think the most important factor you need to consider is the sound variety and adjustments. White noise machines don’t work for everyone, so you might want multiple sound (and volume) options to choose from in order to find the most comfortable solution for your restful sleep. Laura Bates, Certified Sleep Science Coach

Best for Car Seats: Marpac Hushh Portable White Noise Machine for Baby

Pros
  • Portable

  • Can be attached to car seat

  • Child lock

Cons
  • Only three sound options

If your baby has trouble snoozing when you’re on the move or is just disturbed by noisy trucks during a car ride, try attaching Marpac’s Hushh for Baby to their car seat.

This travel-ready sound machine will soothe your child during long road trips or on a short trek to the grocery store. The three sound options (bright white noise, deep white noise, or gentle surf) have all been tested for promoting sleep and masking noise. The baby-safe clip attaches to car seats and strollers, while a child lock prevents little hands from fiddling with the volume or sound options.

Number of sound effects: 3 | Additional features: USB rechargeable

Portability plays a huge role here, as you want to be able to position your sound machine anywhere in the room—and maybe even take it with you on a trip if needed. Laura Bates, Certified Sleep Science Coach

Best for Toddlers: Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine Night Light

Pros
  • Wide range of sounds

  • Colorful nightlight

  • Can be controlled via phone

Cons
  • Power cord is fragile

  • Requires app download

  • Issues with touch feature

Toddlers are notoriously fussy when it comes to bedtime, but creating a soothing environment without noisy distractions can help them drift off to sleep and wake up at a reasonable hour. Hatch’s Baby Rest machine is a kid-friendly sleep sound machine with added features to help you and your child get a full night’s rest.

Hatch’s sound machine produces a wide range of toddler-friendly sounds and multiple soothing melodies to block out distracting sounds at night. Rainbow-colored lights make this a fun night light for toddlers.

This unit also has an Okay To Get Up feature—choose a color or sound and program it to go off at a certain time in the morning. This will tell your child that it’s okay to leave their room, giving you time to wake up and start your day.

Number of Sound Effects: 12 | Additional Features: Two-way audio monitor, time-to-rise feature, colorful nightlight, smartphone app

Best for Babies: Letsfit White Noise Machine with Adjustable Baby Night Light

Letsfit White Noise Machine with Adjustable Baby Nightlight
Pros
  • Plays lullabies for babies

  • Features adjustable night light

  • Auto-off timer

Cons
  • Soundloop is noticeable

  • Difficult controls

Letsfit White Noise Machine comes with special sounds and melodies designed to help the latest addition to your family sleep through the night. This machine has 14 unique sounds, including lullabies to ease your baby’s woes. The adjustable night light is perfect for new mothers who need quick access in and out of their baby's room and can help them avoid stepping on any toys in the process.

The machine plays at 15, 30, 60, 90, and 120-minute intervals with auto-off timer settings, so you don't have to worry about waking your baby back up to turn it off later in the night.

Number of Sound Effects: 14 | Additional Features: Nightlight, timer, memory function

To help your baby doze off easily and sleep soundly, white noise is a must. [It] helps create a comfortable environment for your baby. The best white noise for sleeping mimics the sounds babies hear in the womb. Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician, author of “Happiest Baby on the Block,” and co-founder of SNOO

Best for Adults: Big Red Rooster 6 Sound White Noise Machine

Pros
  • Portable

  • International travel adapter

  • Affordably priced

Cons
  • High-frequency noises

  • Not durable

Stress from work or noisy neighbors can make it difficult for anyone to get some shut-eye. Enter the Big Red Rooster White Noise Machine. On top of this machine’s basic white noise option, it has five other sounds (rain, brook, ocean, thunder, and summer night) to ease your nighttime routine. You can also take it along on international travel thanks to the adapter’s 110-240V compatibility.

Number of Sound Effects: 6 | Additional Features: Travel friendly adapter

Best for Snoring: AVANTEK Noise Sound Machine

Pros
  • Adjustable volume

  • Compact and portable

  • Plays up to 7 hours

Cons
  • Not all sounds have same quality

  • Looping sounds

Sleeping next to a snoring partner is no picnic: it disrupts your slumber and your relationship. If you want to avoid frustrating nights on the couch, AVANTEK’s sound machine can help drown out the sounds of snoring without waking you up.

You’ll be able to find the perfect sound to nix snoring noise thanks to this pick’s selection of 20 non-looping sounds. The wide volume range helps you discover that just-right level to mitigate snoring without keeping you awake. The timer goes up to seven hours too, so you can sleep snore-free for an entire night.

Number of Sound Effects: 20 | Additional Features: Timer

Loud, unexpected, or overly variable sounds can catch our attention, and interfere with sleep. A good sound machine would ideally create a gentle backdrop of very neutral noise—in this case, white noise machines or the sound of a fan can be helpful. Alex Dimitriu, MD, double board-certified in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine.

Best with Alarm Clock: Homedics Recharged Alarm Clock & Sound Machine

Pros
  • Dual function machine

  • Multiple additional features

Cons
  • Flimsy cord

  • Controls not illuminated making it hard to see at night

Falling asleep at a reasonable time is only half the battle when it comes to healthy slumber. Waking up at the same time every day helps you maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, and this dual sound machine and alarm clock assists you on both ends of your night.

This combo is perfect for anyone who wants the benefits of a sound machine and an alarm clock with less nightstand clutter. On top of eight nature sound options, this pick also has a built-in thermometer to make sure your room isn’t too warm for optimal sleep. It connects to digital FM radio, too, so you can wake up to your favorite music or nature sounds.

Number of Sound Effects: 8 | Additional Features: Alarm clock, built-in thermometer, digital FM radio

Final Verdict

If you're someone who needs white noise to catch some Z's, the Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Machine (view at Amazon) is your best bet. Its noise is loud enough to drown out street sounds and has a volume level similar to a box fan. If you're a heavy sleeper, you'll want to check out the Homedics Recharged Alarm Clock and Sound Machine (view at Amazon), which features a built-in alarm clock so you don't oversleep because of the relaxing white noise.

What to Look for in a Sound Machine for Sleep

Volume:

A peaceful, subtle, box fan sound is the ideal volume when it comes to sound machines. If you're a particularly light sleeper, you may want to take volume level into consideration when looking for a sound machine. While most offer a range of volumes, be prepared to give your machine a test run.

Sound Effects:

Many sound machines on the market offer white noise as their primary feature, which is a great middle-ground when it comes to sleep machine sounds. Others offer a wide variety of sounds, such as the ocean, rain, and forest sounds. Sound machines made particularly for babies often feature lullabies that play on a loop throughout the night. If you're partial to one particular sound effect, be sure to double-check the description to make sure it includes your preferred noise before purchasing your sound machine.

Additional Features:

In addition to playing sleep-friendly sounds, some sound machines do double-duty work. Particular models feature alarm clocks and built-in thermometers, so you get a little more bang for your buck. Take a look at all of the features each model has to offer before buying.

“In choosing a sound machine, it’s nice to have options and controls. Lower volume, good sound quality, and a range of sounds that are pleasing—and boring—are helpful.” Alex Dimitriu, MD, double board-certified in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should you stop using a sound machine for your baby?

    Sound machines can be helpful tools to aid babies (particularly newborns) fall asleep and stay asleep. 

    “Over nine months of pregnancy, babies get used to noisy and snug environments,” explains Dr. Alex Dimitriu, a double board-certified psychiatrist and sleep doctor. “This is why babies like being swaddled, and also why babies like some gentle background sounds as opposed to complete silence.” 

    Around the age of three to four months, “the calming reflex will gradually disappear,” says Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician, author of “Happiest Baby on the Block,” and co-founder of SNOO. “But by then, your infant will be aware of the connection between white noise and the pleasure of sleep.” So, white noise machines can continue being helpful to parents. 

  • Can sound machines cause hearing problems?

    Any prolonged or very loud noise can damage hearing—and research has shown that some sound machines are too loud, especially for infants. As a result, it’s recommended sound be kept to 50 decibels around infants to prevent hearing issues. “Quieter is always a safer option,” Bates says. 

    Of course, if your baby is crying and can’t hear the sound machine, it’s okay to turn it up temporarily. “The sound needed to turn on the calming reflex when a baby is crying is a rough, rumbly noise that’s as loud as he's crying,” explains Dr. Karp. But “once your baby is calm, lower the level of your white noise to about the loudness of a shower”—or even less if you can get away with it. 

  • Can you become dependent on sound machines for sleeping?

    Yes, it is possible for both adults and children to get so used to their sound machine, says Dr. Dimitriu, that it leads to a “mild dependence on sound machines that forms over time, much as how people get used to their bedroom or favorite blanket.” This could make it more difficult for you to fall asleep somewhere that’s quieter than you’re used to—like hotel rooms, different houses, etc. 

    However, “it isn’t a bad form of addiction,” says Bates. 

Why Trust Verywell Health?

Abby Stassen is a freelance writer who went to the University of Michigan where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature. Abby's writing has been featured in the Orlando Weekly and Windermere Scene magazines.

Additional reporting to this story by Simone Scully

Simone is a New York-based writer and editor with years of experience writing about health, wellness, science, and lifestyle. Her byline has appeared at Healthline, Well+Good, Narratively, Romper, Motherifigure’s magazine, Nautilus, Narratively, AskMen, among other places.

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