I’ve struggled with sleep for ages. Not only do I lead a hectic and stressful life, but I live on a very busy street where there is no shortage of traffic noise, sirens, and neighbours who like to entertain into the wee hours–even on weekdays. I’ve tried melatonin, meditation, ear plugs, and shouting at my neighbours from my bedroom window, but no matter what I do I can’t seem to shut my brain off or tune out my surroundings, so end up tossing and turning, sometimes for hours, before I drift to sleep. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I was asked to test and review three sound machines that are intended to help you fall asleep.

LectroFan Noise & Fan Machine
The first sound machine I tested was the LectroFan Noise & Fan Machine. As its name indicates, the LectroFan helps drown out distractions through 20 different sounds, including 10 fan sounds that range from industrial to oscillating, and 10 white noise variants. There is no LCD screen or label to tell you which of the 10 sounds you have selected, but a short “whooop” sound lets you know when you’ve scrolled through all the sound options and have arrived back at the beginning of the list. You can easily adjust the volume of the LectroFan to suit your needs, and its speaker points upwards to effectively fill your room with ambient sound. What I liked the most though was its built in timer, which allows you to set your sound for 60 minutes, after which it will shut off. I also liked the fact that you can leave the machine running all night long should you want to, which is exactly what I did the first night I tried it. I used the LectroFan for four nights in a row, and woke in the mornings feeling much more rested than I had in weeks.

Sound+Sleep Mini
Next on the list was the Sound+Sleep Mini. As is the case with the LectroFan, setting up the Sound+Sleep Mini is as simple as plugging it into the wall. What sets it apart though is that it features ASTI’s proprietary Adaptive Sound Technology that listens to background disturbances in your environment and responds by automatically adjusting the volume of the sounds it emits. So if your partner is snoring, or your neighbours are getting a little rowdy, or an ambulance drives by with sirens blaring, the Sound+Sleep Mini will increase the volume of whatever sound you’ve selected, and then revert back to its original volume when the disturbance has passed. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really notice the volume going up and down when I was testing the Sound+Sleep Mini, but just had a sense that my environment was a whole lot quieter than normal; it wasn’t intrusive at all.

As far as sounds are concerned, the Sound+Sleep Mini features a number of white noise and natural sound environments to encourage relaxation: Ride, Rain, Brook, Ocean, Meadow, Home, Baby, Fan, Crowd, Brown Noise, Pink Noise, and White Noise. Each of those sounds can be further augmented by using the “Selection” button. For example, when you have the Ride sound selected, you can toggle between the sound of a car, train, airplane or boat by pressing the Selection button. So essentially each of the 12 sound options feature four different sound varieties.

The Sound+Sleep also features a timer that allows you to leave the sound on for 30 or 60 minutes, and an audio cable with which you can connect a smartphone or other audio device to use the Sound+Sleep as a speaker. Perhaps the best part of the Sound+Sleep though is that it is small and lightweight, and can run on AA batteries, making it ideal to take with you on vacation, camping, or simply to another room in your home.

Finally, it was time to give the Sound+Sleep a go, which is a larger version of the Sound+Sleep Mini. It too features ASTI’s proprietary Adaptive Sound Technology and a number of unique sounds that are engineered to promote deeper sleep and relaxation. However, unlike the 48 unique sounds available with the Mini, the Sound+Sleep only features 30: 10 natural sound recordings and then three richness settings that allow you to adjust your sounds to create your own optimal sleeping conditions. While there are fewer sound options with the larger version of the Sound+Sleep than the Mini, the options themselves are pretty great and include: Ocean, Rainfall, Meadow, Brook, Waterfall, Train, Fireplace, City, Meditation, and White Noise. I fell pretty hard for the Ocean sound and pictured myself sleeping on the beach in some remote tropical destination as I drifted to sleep for a couple nights in a row. Then on the third night I played with the Richness button, which allows you to add new layers to your chosen sound. For example, instead of just listening to crashing waves, I could listen to crashing waves and seagulls, or crashing waves, seagulls, and foghorns. The Sound+Sleep also features a handy button that allows you to turn off the display lights, which are exceptionally bright when the lights are off.

The Verdict

While I liked the simplicity of the LectroFan, I’d have to say that the Sound+Sleep Mini would be my choice for a sound machine as a sleep aid. It is nice and compact and you can select any one of 48 different sounds to suit your activity, mood or preference. On top of using the Sound+Sleep Mini to lull me to sleep, I used its Waterfall sound to help me concentrate when I was editing an exceptionally detailed technical document, and its White Noise sound one evening when I was sitting at my desk writing an article. I can also picture it coming in handy at the office for those times my colleagues are a little noisy and I need to get work done.

Sleep is such an important part of our health, so if you are struggling, do yourself a favour and try a sound machine. It might just give you the extra relaxation and focus you need to shut down for the evening and wake up rested and prepared to take on the day ahead.

Stacey McGregor
Stacey McGregor is a marketing and communications professional based in Vancouver, BC. She has a passion for the written word, loves learning about new technology and gadgets, and enjoys sharing what she learns through Best Buy's Plug In blog.