Is sleeping with a sound machine bad? Should you try using it to help you fall asleep? Read this blog post to find out.
Have you ever experimented with sound to help you sleep? You're far from alone.
Maybe you leave the fan on high all night for consistent background whirring. Listen to a relaxing rain sounds app on your phone. Or even use a dedicated sound machine.
Thousands of people use sound to fall asleep every night — and sound machines are a popular option. But despite their popularity, not everyone agrees that they’re helpful. And some even suggest they may do more harm than good.
So, is sleeping with a sound machine bad? That's exactly what you're going to find out in this article.
Sound machines are electronic devices that produce a steady stream of background noise. They help you fall asleep in any environment. And there's no need to use your phone (and risk blue light disrupting your sleep).
The most popular sound machines play nature sounds. They also produce pink or white noise:
Nature Sounds include natural outdoor sounds, like thunderstorms or croaking frogs.
White Noise sounds like radio or TV static. It’s a consistent buzzing that doesn’t change in intensity.
Pink Noise is a "muddy" static that sounds like rushing water. Studies suggest that pink noise is more effective for sleep than white noise. Elite Daily says it might even improve memory(1).
Many people swear by sound machines to help them (or their babies) sleep better at night. But why and how do they help?
Why Does Static Help You Sleep?
Unexpected sounds can affect your sleep throughout the night. This is because your brain registers sound even if you’re completely unconscious. Examples are snoring or your cat meowing, in the middle of the night.
Your brain picks up on these sounds. They disrupt your sleep by causing you to toss and turn. And shift between sleep stages. You likely won’t remember these disruptions the next day.
But if you often feel tired and groggy, nighttime sound disruptions could be a factor. Many people use sound machines to block out these disruptive noises.
A sound machine helps you fall asleep to a consistent, low hum heard throughout the entire night. Unexpected and inconsistent noises won't disturb you with white noise in the background.
That's because they're masked by the constant sound of the sound machine. You get a good night’s sleep, no matter what’s going on outside your window at 4 a.m.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees that sound machines are beneficial.
Keep reading to learn if a sound machine is a good fit for your bedroom. Or if you’re better off sticking with the rain sounds app on your phone.
Is White Noise Bad For You?
Sleep Foundation says sound machines help adults and newborns sleep better at night. And most studies agree that they’re safe(2). So what’s the issue?
Some doctors warn that sound machines aren’t as harmless as they seem. In fact, some suggest that using sound machines for sleep can be damaging.
ScienceNews says a doctor in Toronto studied the sound machines in nurseries. He determined that the devices in his hospital reached sounds above 85 decibels(3).
The noise level considered sage for hospital nurseries is 50 decibels. Meanwhile, 85 decibels is the noise level considered safe for adults. Above 85 decibels and experts recommend earplugs to prevent hearing loss.
Does that mean you shouldn’t use a sound machine?
Not quite. Let us explain.
Are White Noise Machines Safe?
So, is sleeping with white noise harmful?
It's true that sound machines can produce unsafe levels of noise. And you don’t want to damage your hearing. And parents definitely don’t want to hurt their baby’s ears.
So what can you do?
Use it safely. Yep, it’s that simple.
Tips for Safe Sound Machine Usage
Here are 3 tips to help you use your sound machine safely:
1. Play it at a low decibel.
There's no reason to play your sound machine at an unsafe decibel level. Keep it between 65 to 70 decibels, or the level of a soft shower. This level is harmless and can help you sleep better with no risk of hearing damage.
2. Keep it consistent.
One reason sound machines work is they produce sound at a consistent volume. Nature noises often change, so they are not as helpful. Stick to soft white or pink noise instead.
3. Keep it soft and out of your baby’s crib.
If you're using a sound machine for your baby, play it at a level below 50 decibels. Also, keep the machine outside of your baby’s crib. There is no reason to risk your baby’s safety by putting it inside their crib.
Most doctors agree that, with correct usage, sound machines are safe.
So if you already have a sound machine, keep using it. And if you don’t, consider giving one a try.
Add Static to Your Sleep
So, is sleeping with a sound machine bad?
It's true that sound machines can produce sounds at a high decibel level. But with proper usage, most researchers and doctors agree they're safe and beneficial.
Many use sound machines to improve their sleep quality every single night. With it, they don't risk blue light exposure by using an app on their phones.
Why not add one to your sleep routine? Let us know how it goes by leaving a comment below.
For more tips on better sleep, read these articles:
Remember when it comes to sleep, we’ve got your back!
(1) Stinson, Annakeara.“Is It Safe To Sleep With A Noise Machine? Your Snooze Definitely Won't Suffer & Here's Why." Elite Daily, 5 Aug. 2018, www.elitedaily.com/p/is-it-safe-to-sleep-with-a-noise-machine-your-snooze-definitely-wont-suffer-heres-why-9977176
(2) “The Bedroom EnvironmentListen. Are noises keeping you awake?" National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/hear. Accessed 10 May 2019.
(3) Sanders, Laura. “Should you hush that white noise?” Science News, 3 Mar. 2014, www.sciencenews.org/blog/growth-curve/should-you-hush-white-noise
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