sleeping woman loves white noise

White Noise Machine Or App? How To Decide What’s Better

A lot of tools can help us fall asleep. White Noise Machines or Apps are experiencing an upward trend and there are different ways to generate white noise. The first one is using your smartphone. You can download a white noise app or play a white noise YouTube video. The other way is to get a White Noise Machine. So what’s better? A white noise machine or a white noise app?

Let’s take a look at both of them and find out which one is best for you!

Difference Between White Noise App And Machine

In contrast to a white noise machine, a white noise app produces artificial sounds from the smartphone speakers. Usually, it’s just an mp3 file playing. White noise machines don’t need mp3 files or speakers to make sounds. Actually, there are real moving parts inside producing real white noise sound. That doesn’t apply to every white noise machine though. The other white noise machines generate random white noise sounds electrically. White noise machines are able to produce sounds like blowing wind or rushing water.

If you are new to the world of white noise, you most likely wonder about the benefits and downsides of white noise machines and apps. So let’s take a look at what each of them is good at and what it’s not good at.

Benefits Of White Noise Apps

white noise apps improve your sleepWhite noise apps are usually free to use. You can simply download them on your smartphone. Therefore, you won’t have to wait for shipping.

White noise apps are also easy to use. Usually, there is a dashboard in the app, where you can combine different white noise sounds. You can combine rain with wind blowing through trees and ocean sounds. There are unlimited possibilities. A white noise app can produce many different sounds a white noise machine is not capable of.

Also, you have your smartphone with you all the time and therefore, you will be able to play the sounds in combination with headphones. If you have noise-canceling headphones, it’s even better.

Benefits Of White Noise Machines

By getting a white noise machine, you won’t need to use your own phone or tablet anymore. Because real sounds are produced by moving parts inside the white noise machine, they will sound stunningly better. Some other white noise machines generate random white noises instead of using a looped mp3 file like a white noise app. A White Noise Machine produces only a few sounds, but these sound surprisingly good. You won’t need anymore.

Because the sounds are real, they sound more dynamic and room filling. Usually, white noise machines are inexpensive (definitely worth the money in the long run). They go from 20$ to 50$ (for high-quality ones) up to 100$. A white noise machine will definitely be a long-term investment in your sleep quality. You place them on your nightstand and adapt to them quickly.

Also, you can plug them into the wall and don’t need to worry about battery life.

Downsides Of White Noise Apps

As we already talked about, white noise apps create sounds digitally. Therefore the sound quality of a white noise app is limited to the quality of your speakers. You can enhance it by using external speakers instead of the built-in ones.

If you have children and you want to use the app to help them sleep, you have to leave your phone in another room and you can’t use it in the meantime. A way to handle this is to use Bluetooth speakers. Still, this will need your phone to communicate and therefore drain your battery. Especially if you use YouTube videos for white noise you have to leave your screen on to play the white noise sounds. Your battery life will go down faster.

All these downsides are directly correlated to your smartphone itself and the quality of your speakers. You want to use white noise to cancel out external noise that distracts you from sleeping or studying. Most smartphone speakers don’t really have the power to suppress external noise. Therefore, you should at least use headphones for your white noise app.

Downsides Of White Noise Machines

White Noise Machines can save your life (or sleep) sometimes. They only have very little downsides. Because they are plugged in the wall and most likely run many many hours every day, you can expect to see a tiny change in your electricity bill.
Imagine you pay 9.5 cents for a kilowatt of electricity. Most white noise generators need 0.018kW. That’s 9.5 cents * 0.018kW = 0.17 cents for an hour of use. For a whole day, you’d pay 4.1 cents. A year of constant white noise machine usage costs you $14.98 which is basically nothing. Most likely you won’t even run it 24 hours for a whole year. Most people will use it for 8 hours straight every day. Which leaves you with an electricity bill under 5$.

In my opinion, this cost is so little that you can’t even call it a downside.

By spending just 5$ for a whole year of peaceful nights you get so much value. And it’s even cheaper than buying new replacement earplugs regularly.

White Noise Machine Or App? – What’s Better?

White noise apps are awesome to start with. You can use them anywhere at any time with your headphones. Sadly, they come with the cost of battery drain and less power to cover up distracting noises. Most white noise apps are free to use. If you are new to the world of white noise, you can definitely try a white noise app.

On the other hand, a white noise machine is much more reliable and much better working. The sound is clearer and it also feels more enjoyable. In the long run, I’d recommend investing in a white noise machine. I say invest because you will profit from it for a long time. If you have problems falling asleep at night, a white noise machine is the way to go.

When Should I Buy A White Noise Machine?

White noise machines are most useful if you live in a noisy and busy environment. Even, if chirping birds in the morning disrupt your sleep, a white noise machine will help. It’s not only useful for sleeping, but you can also improve your studying a lot. Even if you meditate sometimes, it will be a great helper. If you want to watch TV at night and have a sleeping baby, a white noise machine is a must-have.

In my personal experience, one of the best ways to improve focus, sleep or meditation is to combine a white noise machine or app with a sleep mask. If you never used a sleep mask, I summarized everything you need to know about sleep masks in one of my articles.

Alternative To White Noise App And Machine

white noise machines imitate the sound of ventilators to help you sleepActually, white noise machines imitate sounds from the real world. So there must be ways to produce white noise without using an app or a machine.

Firstly, you can use any regular fan. A fan produces perfect blowing wind noise and also keeps you cool in the summer. When you try to sleep, I would recommend to place it so that it faces a corner of your room. I don’t want you to get a cold, because you start using a fan at night.

There are miniature table fountains that produce calming flowing water sounds. And they are also beautiful to look at. If you have one at home, give it a try. Maybe it will already help you. They make me want to go to the toilet so I avoid using them as a white noise machine. Also, they are most likely too quiet to cover up distractions from outside.

In my opinion, the best alternative to white noise machines are still white noise apps in combination with good speakers. They do a great job if you want to give white noise your first try.

Also, your sleep is not only determined by external distractions. You most likely have bad habits destroying your sleep quality. I wrote down 5 habits that destroy your sleep in this article.


White noise machines and white noise apps are both awesome to leverage your sleep quality to the next level. Yet, each of them comes with their own benefits and downsides. All in all, using a white noise machine is a good idea in the long run. A white noise machine or app not only improves your sleep but also calm you down or enable you to focus better during your studies. After using a white noise machine for a year it’ll even be cheaper than buying replacement earplugs. So it’s definitely a good investment. If you are not familiar with white noise at all, get a white noise app in combination with good speakers and headphones and they’ll also do the job for you. What I like about white noise apps is the variety of combinations of white noise sounds. I love to play with them to find the perfect white noise for me.

If you found this helpful, share your thoughts or comments down below and check out my other articles where you will learn about many different things that will improve your sleep quality and schedule. Everything I write about is researched or experienced by myself and I only share my real working strategies to improve your sleep.

If you want to read more about white noise, take a look here.


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