The Best White Noise Machines Of 2023 To Improve Your Sleep (Or Your Child's)
A white noise machine can be beneficial for people of all ages, whether you have trouble falling or staying asleep yourself, or you're a new parent looking for ways to calm a fussy baby. The best white noise machines help create a better sleeping environment, and some even double as nightlights and alarm clocks. According to one 2021 study, white noise machines can significantly improve sleep quality and duration1. Additional studies have found that these machines help calm agitated behaviors in elderly individuals with dementia2 and help newborn babies doze off faster3.
Navigating the world of white noise machines may feel confusing, so we did the heavy lifting for you. Using expert insight, research, and plenty of reviews, we uncovered the best white noise machines of 2023 to have you nodding off to sleep in no time.
How does white noise work?
Lauri Leadley, CCSH, RPSGT, clinical sleep educator, president, and founder at Valley Sleep Center in Arizona, explains that white noise is a kind of sound created by combining all the frequencies of sounds at equal intensities. One example of this is the "shhh" sound, composed of high- and low-pitched sounds.
"The idea behind white noise is to create a blanket of sound that can mask other external sounds, such as traffic or chatter," Leadley explains. "When you listen to white noise, your brain perceives it as a monotonous background sound." This, in turn, can help to reduce the impact of more distracting noises.
"Some research has suggested that white noise can have a calming effect on people, helping to reduce stress and anxiety levels," Leadley adds. She goes on to share that some hospitals use white noise machines in their neonatal intensive care units to soothe crying babies and create a more peaceful atmosphere. "In general, white noise is effective because it creates a consistent and uniform sound that can mask other sounds and promote relaxation. But it's important to note that not all sounds work for everyone, and some people may find white noise more irritating than soothing."
Navya Mysore, a primary care and family medicine physician for One Medical in New York, says white noise machines are used for a number of reasons and suggests trying one if you are having trouble falling asleep. "You also may want to use a sound machine to help drown out some other sounds while you are trying to sleep—parents use it for their newborn or child to help them sleep as well," she says.
Although many people find white noise to be helpful, some do find it irritating. If you're not familiar with white noise, give it a try before you decide to make a white noise machine part of your regular nighttime routine.
Is it safe to use a white noise machine all night?
Harvey Karp, founder and CEO of Happiest Baby, the company behind the popular SNOO smart bassinet that uses white noise, says white noise machines can indeed be used all night. "All-night white noise helps mask potential sleep-disrupting sounds, and it helps lull little ones, and adults, back to sleep when they inevitably wake during the night," he explains. "All of us—babies, toddlers, big kids, and adults—whether we realize it or not, rouse a tiny bit about three to four times a night. White noise works to 'self-soothe' us back to sleep quickly."
However, Karp shares that it may not be a good idea to play your white noise machine all day long. "It should only be used for sleepytime and for calming a fussy baby," he says. For babies and young children especially, Karp shares that it's important for them to hear the normal hum of the home during their waking hours. "This helps them master the nuances of all the interesting sounds around them, such as speech and music," he adds.
How to choose the best white noise machine
Leadley suggests taking into consideration the following criteria when searching for the right white noise machine for you.
Sound quality: Leadley points out that the sound quality of a white noise machine is critical. "The sound should be constant and soothing, without any sharp or sudden interruptions," she says. "Look for machines that produce high-quality sounds with adjustable volume."
Variety of sounds: Many white noises come with a range of different noise options, such as ocean waves and rain or fan and vacuum sounds. "Make sure that the machine you choose has a selection of sounds that suit your preferences," Leadley mentions.
Portability: If you're looking to bring your white noise machine with you wherever you go, make sure you're choosing something compact and easily portable. Per Leadley, "Look for machines that are lightweight and compact, with a battery option."
Ease of use: A white noise machine shouldn't cause more stress—it should be easy to use and manage. "The white noise machine should be easy to operate, with simple controls," says Leadley. "A machine with a timer function is also a great feature to ensure that you won't have to turn it off manually."
Additional features: While some white noise machines have just the basic functions, "Some white noise machines come with additional features like a night light or alarm clock," says Leadley. "Consider if these features would be useful for you."
Price: Lastly, white noise machines vary widely in price. Keep your budget in mind while deciding on the best one for you. "Determine your budget and look for machines that fit within it," Leadley suggests.
"A good white noise machine should have high sound quality, a variety of sounds, be portable, easy to use, and may have additional features," Leadley concludes. "Take note of these factors when choosing a white noise machine, and you'll be on your way to a more relaxing sleep, focused work, or study sessions."
How we picked
The best white noise machines offer a variety of features, such as an alarm clock, night light, sleep tracker, timer, and more. We've highlighted each product's features to simplify your search.
We kept expert insight and recommendations in mind when choosing which products to include on our list.
Customer reviews helped us learn more about each model and what people liked and didn't like about each. We called attention to any helpful reviews and also used negative comments to help call attention to potential cons.
We prioritized products from reputable brands that are known for making high-quality products.
The best white noise machines of 2023:
- Breathwork, meditations, and sound baths
- Two-phase alarm
- Backup battery compartment
- Two-phase alarm for peaceful wake-up
- Clock menus may be confusing for some
- Requires wifi connection
Return policy:60 days Loftie, 30 days Amazon
Dimensions:2.75” x 6” x 2.75”
Available in two colorways (black and black/white), this device includes a two-phase alarm system that allows you to wake up gently, and is actually one of our top picks for the best alarm clocks for heavy sleepers. The machine has a subscription-free audio catalog that’s filled with white noise and nature sounds. You can even preview sounds on the brand’s website to see if they’re a good fit for you.
What’s more, this pick comes with breathwork, meditation, and sound bath options to help calm anxiety and frazzled nerves. The Loftie clock also works as a Bluetooth speaker, which means you can get the most bang for your buck. Easy to use and well-designed, this alarm clock and white noise machine combo is a great addition to any bedroom.
Our commerce editor, Carleigh Ferrante, loves the Loftie Alarm Clock, noting that the brand’s Nighstant Bundle has fully elevated her sleep. “I had my eye on Loftie for a while before trying out the Loftie Lamp. I was so impressed with the device that I had to get myself the alarm clock, too. Together, these two devices help me ease into bed, sleep more soundly, and get out of bed in a fraction of the time that I used to. I love the breathwork and meditation capabilities and actually look forward to the soft glow of the lamp in the morning. The best part? I’m scrolling way less and I’ve cut down significantly on screen time.” — Carleigh Ferrante, commerce editor
Best with sleep sounds: Hatch Restore 2
- Attractive design
- Very customizable
- Dimmable clock display
- Many sound options
- Has to be close to router during setup
Return policy:60 days
Dimensions:7.5” x 2.75” x 5.75”
Totally transform your sleep experience by introducing the Hatch Restore 2 to your nighttime routine. Available in different design-forward colors such as latte, putty, and slate, this white noise machine does its job (and does it well) while seamlessly blending into a bedroom’s design. Each unit features large, tactile buttons, a dimmable clock that won’t interrupt your sleep, three high-quality speakers, and an alarm toggle to turn your morning alarm on or off.
This aesthetically-pleasing pick can be controlled via an app to customize your experience. For instance, you can set sunrise alarms complete with soft-colored lights (the peachy hue is my favorite) or create a personalized bedtime ritual. An upgraded version of the Hatch Restore, this unit comes equipped with 21 new sleep sounds and 10 new alarm sounds.
With nearly 1,000 five-star ratings on the brand’s website, this white noise machine is loved by many. One elated customer writes, “The Hatch helps us fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Getting up is a breeze with the customizable wake up sequence. Can’t imagine going back to using my cell phone alarm.” A second shopper shared that this compact machine helps their sleep hygiene “so much!”
- Can control remotely
- Also acts as nightlight
- Time-to-rise & time-for-bed options
- Very easy to operate
- Not easily portable
Return policy:60 days Hatch, 30 days Amazon
Dimensions:4.2” x 4.2” x 6.61”
Doubling as a nightlight with a wide array of soft colors, this device features a high-end intuitive design with a dimmable LED clock and easy-to-use buttons. What’s more, the machine is Wi-Fi-enabled, meaning you can adjust settings such as volume, brightness, and timers from your phone, even when you’re not in your child’s room.
The unit offers a collection of soothing sounds, including ocean, fan, and rain, along with lullabies and stories. If you sign up for the Hatch Sleep Membership ($4.99 per month or $49.99 per year), you’ll have access to an expanded sound library. Whether you are trying to sleep train your child or simply need some extra assistance keeping them asleep through the night, this popular machine checks off all boxes.
Over 31,000 Amazon shoppers have given this device a 5-star rating. One Amazon reviewer writes, "This is an absolute must-have for your baby and even older children. There are a lot of options for colors and sounds. You can adjust the brightness and volume. My 10-month-old has been using this since she was born, and it will come in handy even when she is older in the years to come. This helps drown out noise around the house during naps and at night when everyone else is still awake.”
What our tester says:
“I’ve used this alarm clock for my four year old since she was born! You can control the volume on a scale of 1 to 100, depending on the size of the room and how far away it is from the crib. We love that the light feature serves as a way to make bedtime more fun! Before we turn out the lights in our toddler’s room, we let her choose what color she wants her Hatch to be (purple is a favorite!). We’ve taught her that when her light turns green in the morning (we control it through the app), it’s time to wake up!” — Jordan Dennis, mindbodygreen tester
Best portable: Yogasleep Rohm Portable White Noise Machine
- Lightweight and compact
- Only 3 sounds
Return policy:30 days
Dimensions:3.4” x 1.6” x 3.84”
Simplicity is the name of the game for this white noise machine. Clocking in at just 3.4 ounces, this compact machine is super portable and can easily be packed in carry-on bags, suitcases, and handbags. It’s conveniently rechargeable with a USB chord, and each charge lasts approximately for up to six hours. The device also comes with a lanyard that can be hung from anywhere.
Featuring a streamlined, intuitive design, this pick offers three sounds: bright white noise, deep white noise, and gentle surf. Its signature white noise has fewer high-frequency sounds, which the brand says may help you sleep even better. Note: the volume is adjustable via the machine’s side buttons, but this pick doesn’t have a timer.
With over 9,000 5-star Amazon ratings, this white noise machine is the one to get if you need something portable, lightweight, and wireless. “Perfect for traveling,” one shopper notes. “Other white noise machines may have dozens of different sounds, but in the end you get used to one or two you use all the time. This one is perfectly fine for most people, it is super light, and it can be charged with any USB port.” Even though this pick has many rave reviews, it’s important to remember that it only comes with a few sounds.
- Precise volume control
- Optional timer
- Connector for headphones or speakers
- No light display
- No alarm clock
Return policy:30 days
Dimensions:4.7” x 4.7” x 3.3”
Featuring 22 sound options including 10 fan noises, 10 white, pink, and brown noises, and a handful of ocean sounds, this streamlined device blocks unwanted sounds to help you sleep better. Each machine is powered by AC or USB, with a 3.5mm connector included to connect with your headphones or a speaker.
Even better? This pick comes with an optional timer, which comes in handy if you don’t want to keep it on all night. The machine has precise volume control and a compact, lightweight design perfect for home use or travel.
Thousands of shoppers applaud this easy-to-use white noise machine, exclaiming that “it does a great job at drowning out noises” and its “sound quality is amazing.” One customer writes, “This machine has made my quality of sleep one hundred percent better than before. I only wish I had purchased it sooner. Prior to using it, I would wake up about every two hours or when I heard something and felt tired when it was time to get up and not at all rested. With this machine, I sleep until I need to get up for a bathroom trip or it is near time to wake for the day. I feel that the quality of sleep I get has significantly improved and I wouldn't be without it now.”
One customer does mention that the device doesn’t have any display lights, so keep this in mind when deciding on which to purchase.
Best app to connect to bluetooth speaker: BetterSleep
- Over 300 sleep sounds and music tracks
- Sleep tracker included
- Highly customizable
- Bedtime reminders
- Need your own speaker
- Can't preview premium content
If you’re looking for sounds you can easily take with you while on the road, try out this highly-rated sleep app that specializes in sleep tracking and white noise. It has over 300 sounds and 200 meditations, along with hypnosis tracks and more than 100 sleep stories—and new content is added regularly. Beyond white noise, there are plenty of audio options, including ASMR sounds, pink noise, brown noise, and binaural beats.
The app is free to download, but premium content comes with an extra fee. BetterSleep is equipped with a sleep tracker, timer, bedtime reminders, sleep recorder, and more. Awarded Apple’s “Best App of the Day” dozens of times, this option is a great tool to have on hand to improve your sleep. Use it straight from your phone or pair it with a speaker.
This app impressively has over 272,000 reviews with an average 4.8 star-rating on the App store. “I’ve tried a lot of things for sleep sounds,” one user writes on the Apple app store. “But, year after year after year (how long have I been using this? A decade at least!), I consistently use this app. It’s always improving, even though I’ve never personally found it lacking. It’s amazing to have so much ability to customize mixes. I like layering multiple water sounds, brown noise, and a little quiet thunder. It’s created an almost Pavlovian response; I start playing my mix, and next thing I know, I’m asleep.” Although this app has hundreds of thousands of perfect five-star ratings, one customer mentions you can’t preview premium sound content, which they find to be a turnoff.
Subscription cost: Free limited access; $9.99 per month; $59.99 annually; $249.99 lifetime membership
What color noise is best for anxiety?
Leadley suggests that white or pink noise works well for calming anxiety.
What is white noise versus pink noise?
Karp explains that pink noise is considered a "cousin" to white noise and that pink noise may be less intense than white noise. "There have been some emerging studies that suggest that pink noise may help improve sleep quality," he shares. "There's also promising research on pink noise's potential to help treat tinnitus."
What color noise is best for sleep?
Although pink noise is also great for sleep, Karp shares that white noise is his "go-to." "In addition to featuring a steady, low, droning sound that's ideal for sleep, white noise is a mix of the whole spectrum of sounds," Karp explains, "so it's really great at masking other disruptive noises, like the sound of a TV in the next room or cars zooming down your street."
The best white noise machines can help improve both the quality and quantity of sleep. Many are easy to use, come with a variety of sounds (even beyond white noise), and may also act as a night light or alarm clock, allowing you to streamline products. If you're interested in learning more about how to get a better night's sleep, be sure to check out our tips on how to sleep through the night and the best products for insomnia.
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