Sleep And Sound Gadgets: Which Noises Are Your Friend?

Woman Sleeping

Earplugs were my go-to solution for interrupted sleep, until tinnitus became a “thing.”

Who knew that a single pitch, whistling like an arrow through your brain, could rob a person of sleep?

A friend suggested I get a white noise machine, but the constant wall of sound was too much for me. There had to be middle-ground somewhere. I needed a gadget that would help distract my brain from the sustained pitch produced by tinnitus. But, it couldn’t inundate me with unnecessary racket. After much study and experimentation, here are some suggestions for sleep and sound gadgets that may help you sleep, rather than just irritate you.

Sleep Studies

Before we start with noise, let’s talk about what sleep studies are saying. As technology has become more personalized and portable, it is used by individuals rather than commercial or medical organizations. People now can track their own sleep patterns.

What difference does this make?

Well, tracking your sleep patterns will help you see which times of the night you are awake or restless. If you see a pattern, you may be able to track it down to environmental factors that are waking you up.

For example, if you discover that your sleep is disturbed at 2:00 am every night, it could be because you have programmed the air conditioner to turn off at that time. Or, it might be the neighbor’s nighttime rituals that are disturbing your sleep.

There are gadgets that will track your sleep patterns and help you to remain sleep. Some do so with sound, some with light, and some will automatically adjust your bed to keep you asleep.

Noise-cancelling headphones and sleep ear buds

The concept of noise-cancelling headphones started with simple muffling of the noise by physically stopping the sound waves from reaching your ear. Over the years, it evolved into a much more elaborate system.

Man Headphones

Instead of just stopping the outside noise, modern noise-cancelling ear buds and headphones rely on the technology of annulling the noise by emitting a sound frequency of their own. These sound waves intercept the noise and cancel it out (hence the name noise-cancelling).

Very cool, right?

It is, but on the minus side, the technology is still relatively new and like all gadgets relying on new tech, they are expensive. This especially goes for the modern wireless and Bluetooth models.

Apart from drowning out the noise, the top models work through active noise cancellation made it possible to develop slick pieces that can be used as ear buds for sleep.

But, again, these nifty sleep gadgets are still expensive. The good news is that, with a bit of research, it’s still possible to find a good affordable set priced at under $200, or even under $50 or $100  – we found this guide on best affordable noise-cancelling headphones and sleep ear buds helpful.

HoMedics White Noise Machine

Along the theme of noise machines HoMedics makes a white noise machine with 4 settings. Some people respond really well to white noise. It makes me tense, though, so I’m taking other people’s word for the efficiency.

With 4 different settings, you can select the one that has the right overall pitch and volume to get you to sleep. There is a timer that will automatically turn it off. This may be to your liking, or the silence may wake you up.

Other with noise machines are LectroFan, Rohm, and Sound+Sleep Special Edition Adaptive Sound System, which monitors the sound in your room and adjusts the volume of its 64 settings accordingly.

Gaming Glasses and sleep

Light has a lot to do with our ability to sleep. Studies in sleep science (say that five times really fast) have found that the blue light emitted from our electronic devices can prevent melatonin from forming.

Melatonin is the hormone that makes us sleepy. I’ve had trouble with eye strain at the computer, and most of my reading material is in Kindle, so screens are very prominent in my lifestyle.

I got a pair of gamer glasses with a orange hue lenses, and selected a model with a little bit of magnification. This has eliminated much of my eye strain, reduced headaches, and helps me see better. So, you might try gamer glasses. Mine are in a black Wayfarer frame, so they look pretty cool. I don’t know that they help me go to sleep, though.

Lighting Options

We’ve already mentioned that blue light inhibits melatonin. Your lamp and ceiling lights may do the same. The good news is there are many lighting options that will help you fall asleep.

Philips Wake-up Light

The Philips Wake-up Light imitates natural sunrise. If you have trouble waking up in the mornings, this may be the one for you. Some people can’t fall asleep because they are worried about waking up in time. Or, they jolt awake in the wee hours in a panic, with hours to go before the alarm goes off, but can’t get back to sleep because of the adrenaline rush.

This light will gradually brighten your room in the morning. That may seem like no big deal, but it really is. As the light increases, your body stops making as much melatonin. This makes it easier for you to wake up at the right time.

Simple, right?

Now, the science on the connection between light and sleep quality is still to pinpoint the specific connections, but for me, adding a wake-up light did help.


The Stella Relaxation & Sound Sleep Machine combines sound and light to help you drift off – and stay asleep. It has several different sounds from nature that you can play during your sleep, or while you are reading before bed. There are five colors in the nightlight. They all combine to create a soothing atmosphere for your bedtime.

HoMedics SoundSpa Enliven

This is another HoMedics product. Thankfully (for my tastes) it breaks away from the white noise fixation. It has 6 sounds to choose from, such as campfire, everglades, rain, and campfire. It also has colors that you can change in the light it emits. The rhythmic sounds coming from the speaker, combined with the soft lighting, create a restful environment.

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Ivan Kolev is a sleep therapist based in New Jersey. He's also a blogger & writer on all sleep-related topics.

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