I cannot sleep in total silence. I need the hum of a fan or the crackle of a fire. Too much noise and I can’t turn my brain off, but too little and every toss, turn, or sniffle is amplified. Whether or not you feel the same, you probably still don’t get enough sleep, and for many people, it’s not for lack of trying. Help is available. A good sound machine (also called a white-noise machine or sleep machine) is just one tool in an arsenal of gadgets that can help you get your recommended number of z’s.
WIRED’s gear reviewers have filled their homes with sound machines for everything from muffling Witcher battles in the living room while the kids snooze to keeping us asleep while night-owl partners sneak into bed. These are our favorite machines for getting some shut-eye.
Check out our many other buying guides for getting a good night’s rest, such as the Best Mattresses and the Best Sunrise Alarm Clocks.
Updated October 2022: We’ve added the Hatch Rest 2nd Gen.
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Best OverallLectroFan Classic
The Lectrofan Classic is in several WIRED staffers’ homes, divided between children and adults. At 4 inches across and 2 inches tall, it’s small enough to fit on the most crowded cabinet top. It’s surprisingly sophisticated: Choose between fan sounds or a spectrum of pink, brown, or white noise. You can crank it up to a whopping 85 decibels or keep it low enough to barely hear it at all. It has a 60-minute timer. If you’re buying for a child, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents to keep sound machines to around 50 decibels and farther than 200 centimeters (6.5 feet) from where your baby sleeps.
★ Alternative: The Lectrofan Evo ($45) is another solid option from this brand. The Evo has a few more sound choices and looks nicer, but we prefer the buttons on the Classic. They’re better for fiddling with in the dark.
Simplest Sound MachineYogasleep Dohm Classic
Yogasleep’s Dohm (originally called the Sleep-Mate) was invented in 1962, and it’s still one of the most reliable sound machines you can buy. At 4 inches tall and 5.5 inches wide, it’s a little larger than the LectroFan, but it’s much simpler. A rotating fan is set within the Dohm’s acoustic housing, and it has just two settings (the lower one is under 55 decibels). If you normally sleep with a box fan running but don’t want dust bunnies blown into your face all night, this is the pick for you. Don’t be alarmed if you see Marpac on the packaging or buy page—it’s the same company.
A Multipurpose Sound MachineHatch Rest (2nd Generation)
The second-generation Hatch Rest combines a sound machine and night-light with two added features for children: time-to-rest and time-to-rise lights. These are called beacons, and they’re helpful reminders for adults too. This version also includes a dimmable clock, and it’s controllable via Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth. In the app, you can customize colors, adjust the volume, and pick from the sound library. Tapping the top of the Hatch Rest cycles through sounds and turns it on and off. (There’s a child-lock function to prevent kids from messing with the settings, and it still gives them control of the nightlight button on the back of the machine.)
You don’t have to subscribe, but if you do, the $50 annual Hatch membership offers great bedtime stories, lullabies, and meditations I absolutely adore. It’s just a shame none are included in the base price. Hatch has a few different models too. We’ve tested and like the Rest Plus ($90), which adds Amazon Alexa support and includes an audio monitor. We don’t recommend the Rest Mini ($40), though, as it stopped turning on for us after several months.