Emma Roberts and I Both Swear By the Original White Noise Machine From the ’60s To Fall Asleep

Photo: Getty Images/ Sophie Filippova
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As long as I can remember, I’ve been a terrible sleeper. Even the faintest noise sends me jolting up in bed, wide awake. I’m so envious of anyone who can fall asleep on airplanes, no problem. I have to have the perfect conditions to fall asleep: blackout curtains, a silk sleep mask, perfect temperature—not too cold, not too hot. I’m a true Goldilocks when it comes to sleep—it’s got to be just right.

So when I discovered this Marpac Dohm white noise machine ($41), my life changed. Truly, out of all the products I own that I rely on the most, I would put this in the top three. I actually bought this white noise machine for my friend’s baby years ago. And when I read the Amazon reviews I realized that a ton of sleepless adults, like myself, swear by it. It has a near-perfect 5-star average review, so I bought one for myself. Now, I can’t fall asleep without it. I even bring it with me every time I stay in a hotel room on vacation.

marpac dohm white noise machine
Marpac Dohm Classic The Original White Noise Machine — $41.00


  • Power source is corded electric
  • Sound: real fan (white noise)
  • Weighs 1.6 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5.75 x 5.75 x 3.25 inches
  • 2 speed options
  • Comes with 1-year warranty



How white noise machines can help you sleep

If you’ve never used a white noise machine before, it’s essentially a device that drowns out background noise and can have a calming effect, easing you into sleep faster. I reached out to sleep expert and CEO of Ostrichpillow, Pablo Carrascal, to explain exactly how it works. “When playing white noise (meaning noise containing many frequencies with equal intensities), it can help mask other noises present in your environment—like traffic or people talking,” explains Carrascal. “Basically, a white noise machine helps your brain not to process other noises, helping your brain lose attention—which, in turn, can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.”

One recent study from the Sleep Foundation shows that 38 percent of adults (who participated in the study) fall asleep faster with white noise. It's certainly not a "magic bullet" for all, but if it helps, then it really helps. If you’re like me and super sensitive to acute noise, you could benefit the most from a white noise machine because it drowns out everything else. Now, sound machines can get really technical and fancy and cost hundreds of dollars—but I’ve used those before and honestly, they’re complicated and sometimes don’t even work as well. The one I’m super into is only $41 and it’s no-frills and simple. I can use it when I'm half-asleep.

The Marpac Dohm Classic is the original white noise machine that dates back to the ‘60s and it’s still the most popular one. It’s proof positive that sometimes basic is best. Basically it’s a small circular machine that can fit on your bedside table, and it has a whirring fan inside. And there are two switches: one that creates a low whirring hum and one with a slightly louder hum. That’s it—nothing digital, no app downloads required.

Even if you don’t have trouble falling asleep at all, if you live in a city or an apartment with thin walls, I’d recommend it. I can often hear my neighbors below me watching TV during the day, so I’ll turn the sound machine on while I'm working and it instantly drowns it out. Emma Roberts also listed it as one of the top products she can’t live without, saying, “I originally got this for my son,” she explained. “Then I got so used to hearing it, and I was on location a couple months later and I could hear all the traffic outside. I used it, and it drowned out all the noise. Now I can’t sleep without it.” You and me both, Emma, you and me both.

 *Also, note that if you see it listed as “Yogasleep” instead of Marpac, it’s the same brand—the name just changed. 

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