You might be one of those lucky people who can sleep through absolutely anything, with no need for soundproofing. But most of us will find it hard to sleep if there is any sort of noise or sound coming into your bedroom.

One product that I have recommended in the past for an effective solution for soundproofing a bedroom is a white noise machine, also known as a sound dohm.

If you are considering using one and what to know how the white noise machines work to help you get a better night’s sleep, then read my comprehensive guide below – it also includes one or two product recommendations you might want to try out.

What is White Noise?

A not very scientific explanation would be that white noise is a sound signal that masks background noises. White noise can help promote better sleep by drowning out the types of sounds (think barking dogs, traffic, noisy neighbors) which might keep you awake at night.

A more scientific term taken from Wikipedia would be:

“White noise is a common synthetic noise source used for sound masking by a tinnitus masker. White noise machines and other white noise sources are sold as privacy enhancers and sleep aids and to mask tinnitus.” 

Tinnitus suffers use white noise to block out sound, which is why it also so effective those people who can’t sleep at night due to external noise disturbance.

What Does White Noise Sound Like?

The following is a sound sample from the Internet Archive. If you click to listen, make sure that your volume is low as it can be quite harsh-sounding when listened to loudly.

White noise sounds quite similar to the static you might get from a TV or radio doesn’t it?

The above sound sample was white noise that was generated electronically.

With white noise machines for sleep, they don’t just emit this type of sound though, as you can select and play other tracks, which could be more relaxing depending on your personal preference.

The term “white noise” can also apply to any form of constant, looped, background noise. Types of sound played on white noise machines could include:

  • Natural sounds – ocean waves, forest noises
  • Machinery noise – air con units, washing machines
  • Ambient sounds – campfires, crowd noise

These are still referred to as white noise, and are different sounds that you might prefer to listen to – I certainly do, and they would appear to aid sleep much more effectively.

How Does White Noise Work?

So why should we play white noise in our bedroom to help us sleep? Surely noise is going to keep us awake, right?

Well this is where it’s gets interesting.

What white noise does is blend external noises (such as noisy neighbors, street noise, road traffic, dogs barking) into the overall background noise present.

This tricks your brain into paying less attention to the noises that will keep you up at night.

White noise will mask the sounds that you don’t like.

In terms of an analogy of how this works, I believe this is a great way of explaining the masking of irritating sounds using a white noise machine.

“Imagine being in a dark room and you switch on a flashlight. You immediately notice the light source. But what if the room is already brightly lit? The flashlight is now barely noticeable because it has been “masked” by the brighter room lights.”

So, what have we learned?

In simple terms, a white noise machine will mask those noises that are stopping you from getting a good night’s sleep or keeping you awake at night.

Can You Play Music Instead?

Many people swear by playing music at night to help them sleep. But does it work as well as white noise machine?

Not always.

The reason being is that music doesn’t contain the same range of frequencies that white noise does. This means it can’t mask other sounds as well as white noise machine is able to.

Not only that, but certain music can evoke memories in people, leading to sleep disturbance.

Imagine the scenario: You are asleep when suddenly a tune comes on which you associate with a traumatic event, or something else very memorable. Chances are this will actually wake you up, or disturb any deep sleep patterns.

Using White Noise in Baby Rooms and Nurseries

I have already discussed how you can use a white noise machine to help babies sleep in my guide to soundproofing a nursery. New born babies are very good at sleeping through loud noise, as they are used to it from their time spent in the womb.

However, as they grow older their hearing becomes more accustomed to every day noise and they will find it harder to tune out certain sounds when sleeping.

That’s why some parents use sound dohms specifically designed for babies to sleep. One of the best ones on the market current is available from the Marpac sound dohm which is a very affordable white noise machine – view latest prices on Amazon.

Recommended White Noise Machines

There are plenty of great products on the market designed to help people of all ages sleep better without the need to soundproof their home. I’ve put together a short-list of what I believe are the best options available right now.

Using a standalone product is a good option if you just want to press a button and let the machine do the work for you. They are simple to set-up and will work away in the background, playing the type of white noise that works best for you.

Marpac Sound Machine – The Best Natual Sound Product

The Marpac Sound Dohm

I’ve already referred to the Marpac sound dohm range being great for babies, but they are also the standard-bearer for quality when it comes to white noise sleeping products for any ages.

The white noise is generated using an internal fan which emits a very relaxing soothing sound of rushing air – so you won’t have the option of playing different sounds, but believe me when I say this type of white noise is usually the best option for most people.

This product has excellent online reviews, many of which you can read on Amazon. I have highlighted just a few below though, from people who have used this product to aid their sleep.

“We live in an apartment and our baby’s window faces the parking lot so it can get really noisy. She was having trouble staying asleep, but since we got the sound dohm now she sleeps so well.” 

“Now winter is over, at 4am each morning a flock of birds perch on the tree outside of my window and chirp loudly. This white noise sound generator works so far so good for me.” 

“This is the best sound machine sound wise I’ve come across. Straight forward. We used it to put my nieces to sleep for every naptime and every bedtime.” 

“These sound machines are awesome. we bought one for our room and liked it so much we got another for our daughter’s room. The sound is much better and more natural than the electronic sound machines.”

You can purchase the Marpac Dohm on Amazon – click here to view prices.

Sound+Sleep Sound Machine – Best for a Range of Sounds

Sound machine on Amazon

If you want a range of relaxing soundscapes, then this is the product for you. It comes with 48 pre-programmed sound environments so that you don’t get used to one particular track. It’s a little more complex to use, but you should get to grips with it after a couple of nights.

Again, it has fantastic reviews at including highlight such as:

“Great sound, plays as listed in description. No weird sounds between loops. Has the capability to turn off at different time intervals. Really helps with sleep- going to sleep faster and not waking up as much.” 

“This is simply the best sound machine on the market. It is the only one that offers adaptive technology that keeps me asleep throughout the night despite noisy neighbors, city traffic.” 

“Absolutely love this product. I use it every night, and couldn’t be happier. It’s so convenient to move from room to room, and take on the road.” 

“This sleep machine has worked great. We purchased one for our room, to see how it worked for us. We liked it so much that we purchased two more for each of our children’s room.”

If you are interested in finding out more, then click here to view prices.


I hope that this short guide on how white noise machines work for better sleep. We use one in our home (the Marpac product) and absolutely love it.

By using a white noise machine in your home, you could end up saving a lot of money on an expensive soundproofing project. If you decide you still want to soundproof your bedrooms then please read my soundproofing guides, all of which are available on the website.

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