If you're struggling to get to sleep at night, there's a tiny machine that just might be the perfect solution. The LectroFan Micro2 is a white noise machine that's just 5cm tall, and weighs as much as an average apple – and it's brilliant.
Right now we're in the middle of Sleep Awareness Week – an annual event organized by the National Sleep Foundation (opens in new tab) to emphasize the connection between good sleep and better health – and to mark the occasion I've been putting a huge array of sleep tech through its paces, including sleep trackers, sleep earplugs, wake-up lights, and under-pillow speakers.
They can all help you drift off more easily at night (or help you understand why you can't), but for my money, a simple white noise machine is one of the best investments you can make – and this is one of the best.
Your number one fan
LectroFan, as the name suggests, specializes in noise machines that use mechanical fans to generate a nondescript sort of background noise. If you grew up in a hot climate you might be used to having a fan running at night to keep your bedroom cool, but it also has the benefit of providing low ambient sound that helps mask any annoying noises.
There are lots of noise machines and sleep apps that aim to create the same experience with natural sounds like raindrops on a window or whistling wind, but after a while you might be able to spot where these recordings loop around, which can be more distracting than your neighbor's TV. That's not an issue with a fan, since the sound never loops.
The LectroFan Classic is one of the company's best-known machines, but it's recently branched out into smaller wireless devices that you can toss into your luggage and use while you're travelling if you have a hard time getting to sleep in an unfamiliar hotel room.
The LectroFan Micro2 is one such machine, and it certainly lives up to its name, standing 5cm tall and weighing the same as an average apple. In fact, it's too small to house its own fan (or at least not one that would generate enough sound to be useful), so instead it plays seamless pre-recorded samples of real fan noise. It's very convincing though, and in our tests, I found it impossible to tell when the samples looped. Kudos to LectroFan's sound engineers.
Some of its pre-programmed noises sound like the gentle whirr of a household fan, while others have the dull background drone of something much bigger and more industrial. In fact, I was very impressed just how much sound this little machine is capable of kicking out. You'll probably want to stick to the lower volume settings most of the time, but if you want to recreate the effect of sitting in a turbine hall for some reason (if you grew up in a nuclear power facility, perhaps), you can.
More than meets the eye
The LectroFan Mini2 is cleverly designed as well. The vast majority of white noise machines have buttons on the side and a speaker on top – nothing more – but this little one allows you to twist the top to reposition the speaker for directional audio. It's a cool feat of engineering, and it's not the only trick the Mini2 has up its sleeve, either. Unlike all the other white noise machines I've tested, this little one also moonlights as a Bluetooth speaker.
It's not going to give the audio engineers at Bose any sleepless nights, and it's ever so slightly tinny, but it sounds much better than it has any right to, and would be great for making a hotel room feel a little more like home while you're away for a business trip. There's even a very respectable sounding built-in microphone so you can use it for hands-free calls.
It's a shame that there's no timer, so you can't have the fan noise turn off automatically after a certain period of time, and if you want a protective case you'll need to buy one separately, but in all other respects this is a really great little gadget if you find yourself restless at night. It's available worldwide for $34.95 / £34.95 / AU$69.99, so it's also one of the cheaper white noise machines I've used. Give it a a spin – I think you'll be impressed.
This article is part of TechRadar's Sleep Week 2022 (running until Saturday 19 March), a week-long celebration of all things slumber. We'll be bringing you proven techniques and tips to help you sleep better, and have rounded-up all the top-rated tech to transform your sleep.