The gentle drone of a fan, the soft pitter-patter of raindrops, waves lapping against the shore – listening to white noise can be a great way to lull you to sleep. But if you’re trying to de-stress before bed, the last thing you want to do is frantically search for the perfect white noise to fall asleep with.
Whether you’re a new white noise user, or an aficionado looking for a change from the classic noise machine, finding the right white noise can be a surprisingly daunting task. We’re here to help, rounding up all the best places to look for the dreamiest sounds. So, find your favorite white noise for sleep, turn off the lights, snuggle up on your best mattress, and drift off with this guide.
Is it good to sleep with white noise?
White noise is regularly used as a sleep aid, although there’s currently not much evidence to suggest why it might work. The prevailing theory is that white noise can mask other, more disturbing background noise, making it les distracting. It might be particularly useful if you sleep in a noisy environment (near a busy road, for example). The predictable nature of white noise is also thought to be a benefit, by helping your brain calm down after a busy day.
There is research to support using white noise as a sleep aid. Research from 2017 found that subjects exposed to broadband sound (aka white noise) fell asleep faster than those in a normal sound environment. And a 2021 study supported the sound-masking theory: participants living in a noisy part of New York slept better when using a white noise machine.
5 best places to find white noise for sleep online
From the classic flat drone to a complex combination of waves / frogs / Irish coastal winds, these are the best places to find white noise for sleep.
Spotify is packed full of white noise options, including playlists that will take you through the night. Simply search ‘white noise’, pick your sound, turn up the volume, and get ready to drift off. And, of course, it isn’t just Spotify. Nearly all music streaming services (including SoundCloud) house a collection of white noise.
If you do opt for a streaming service, it’s worth paying for an ad-free experience. A disturbing advert can shock you out of your sleep, especially if it’s loud and surprising. And no one wants a rude awakening – that's why we recommend finding the best iPhone alarm to wake up to.
You can find anything and everything on YouTube, so of course there’s plenty of white noise playlists. This includes videos over eight hours long, featuring black screens for a less disturbing display.
As with streaming services, you might want to pay to remove ads from your white noise video. However, a lot of the longer white noise videos are already ad-free, such as the popular 10 hours of soft white noise. If you aren’t sure whether your listening will be disrupted by ads, try playing the video during the day, and keep an ear out for any unexpected breaks.
YouTube is also a good place to find ASMR sounds. These quiet videos feature noises we encounter in everyday life and some people find them hugely relaxing. Try creating your own ASMR soundscape, using noises you associate with being peaceful and happy.
3. White noise apps
White noise apps are an easy and often affordable way to add white noise to your bedtime routine. Take a browse through the app store and you can find plenty of sleep apps, including both free and premium options (and plenty of free apps with in-app purchase options).
Many of these apps will require either a purchase or subscription to access the full range of uninterrupted white noises. Once you’ve paid, however, you’ll typically have a large sound library to choose from. In addition, many apps come with download capability, so you can listen to white noise offline.
4. White noise web players
White noise web players broadcast your favorite relaxing drone straight from your browser. A quick search of ‘white noise online’ will bring up a few different options to get you started. Sites such as NoisesOnline and A Soft Murmur allow you to customize what you hear, for a relaxing soundscape that will soon have you snoring. (A calm garden in Japan is a particular favorite.)
TikTok isn’t just the home of the most unexpected sleep hacks (bed rotting and mouth taping, anyone?) It’s also a place to find all kinds of noises, and that includes soothing and relaxing white noise.
While we wouldn’t recommend playing TikToks throughout the night, it’s a great place to discover the kind of white noise you might enjoy listening to. As each clip is short, you can experiment with a range of sounds – from air conditioners to waterfalls – and see which you like.
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Ruth is TechRadar’s Sleep Writer. She’s here to help you find the perfect sleep setup for your budget and personal preferences. As well as keeping a keen eye on everything that’s going on in the world of mattresses, she regularly speaks to experts to help you learn how to improve your sleep habits, whether that’s by debunking sleep myths or explaining the science behind it all. Prior to joining the TechRadar team, she wrote features and product guides for new parents hoping to get a decent night's sleep, as well as writing for a variety of online spaces.