There are a lot of us who are walking around without getting enough sleep. It negatively impacts our health and our lives in so many ways. We’re slowly waking up to this scary fact, and we are now bombarded with all sorts of gadgets and potions to help us get a better sleep. Sleep and Sound Machines have been around for a while now: I think it’s worth having a good look at exactly what they are and what they do.
You might have heard of people using white noise to help babies go to sleep, but had you considered using a sound machine to help you sleep? There are many Sleep and Sound Machines designed for adults, and lots of people find they can not only help you fall asleep more easily, they can also help you get deeper sleep too.
Could a sound machine be a relatively cheap and effective tool to help you get better sleep?
Sleep and Sound Machines: The Basics
Sleep and Sound Machines usually look similar to an alarm clock or small radio: a small-ish, boxy device that you would put on your bedside cabinet. Common shapes are round, square, or hexagonal. The most popular color seems to be white, but there are also some available with pinks, silvers, and blues.
There are different types of Sleep Sound Machines that make different types of noises to help you sleep:
- White noise: white noise is a steady sound. Examples to help you get an idea of white noise are: radio static, or a whirring fan.
- Pink noise: this does not have an equal distribution like white noise does. It has a deeper sound at lower frequencies and is commonly found in nature. Examples to help you get an idea of pink noise are: a heartbeat, leaves rustling, rain falling.
Many come with a range of sounds you can choose from (for example, if you bought a white noise machine it might have six different white noise options for you) and adjustable volume levels. Some can be programmed to stop after a certain amount of time, or to run right through until you wake up. Many can also double as an alarm clock.
How Do They Work?
Sleep and Sound Machines work in two ways to help you get your best night’s sleep:
1. Distract you from background noises
This particularly important if you have a really quiet sleep environment. Does that sound a bit counter-intuitive!? It turns out that if you sleep in a quiet environment, your brain will pick up really acutely on any distracting noise, making it harder to go to sleep.
A Sleep and Sound Machine won’t get rid of the offending background noise that’s keeping you awake – sorry but it can’t fix that snorer lying next to you – but it helps mask the noise and helps your brain focus on the soothing sounds instead.
2. Create soothing noises
Sound and Sleep machines, particularly pink sound machines, can make you feel like you’re falling asleep next to the ocean or listening to gentle rain falling. These are soothing, natural noises that have been shown to help us relax and sleep.
If just you used the TV, radio, or music as background noise; your brain will still be paying attention. This can disrupt your sleep without you realizing. A Sleep and Sound Machine will not have this effect on your brain, allowing it to focus on sleep, and doing all the other unknown but vital things brains do while we rest.
Further to that, pink noise helps to slow down and regulate your brainwaves, which has been shown to help you get deeper sleep by lengthening the deep sleep phases of your sleep cycle.
Consumer Reports found 43% of those who answered their sleep survey found them helpful for going to sleep. That’s right up there with some sleep medications. Interesting fact: the director of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Sleep Disorders Center uses a white noise sleep machine himself.
Who Would Benefit From Using A Sleep And Sound Machine?
There are lots of different people who might find a Sleep and Sound Machine can help them sleep better. These include but are not limited to:
- light sleepers who are disturbed easily – the masking effect of the sound machine will help you sleep through any other noises
- people who have trouble falling asleep – the sound helps your brain to focus and provides a more soothing setting
- people wanting to get better quality sleep – pink noise can help improve your deep sleep
- people who have tinnitus, or ringing in the ears – the noise of a day can be distraction from the ringing in the ears, but it can really bother people when it’s quieter at night so a sound machine can help mask the ringing for you
What Else Might Work Instead?
Not keen on buying a gadget? Here are four things you could try instead:
- Use an app on your phone. There are loads of apps that could help you here. You could choose a guided meditation from an app like Headspace, or soothing sounds from Brain FM. There are also apps that play pink or white noise. Make sure the light from your phone screen is not visible to you: this blue light is a known sleep disruptor!
- Want to go old school to block out noise? Get some earplugs! You can find some comfortable ones that mould to the shape of your ear for a more comfortable fit.
- If you have trouble falling asleep, following some sleep hygiene tips or writing down all the thoughts whirring around in your head can quiet your mind to help you fall asleep.
- Please talk to a health professional if you feel like you need more help with your sleep, there may be an underlying medical condition that needs to be treated.
Click here to find out more about a Sleep and Sound machine that has all the types of noise you could ever need.