White Noise Machine vs Fan for Better Sleep

white noise machine and a table fan in a bedroom

It’s amazing how much better you can sleep with the help of some background noise coming from a device or appliance.

White noise machines are actually devices designed for the purpose of creating this soothing background noise. However, you may already know that simple table fans can create gentle background noise as well to fall asleep to. Naturally, you might ask yourself, “is a white noise machine worth the money or could I just use my table fan instead?”.

After all, since so many white noise machines are designed to play fan noises, it’s worth questioning whether it’s really worth investing in a white noise machine in the first place. 

However, there are some real benefits to using a white noise machine for sleep that you might not get from a fan and vice versa that will be discussed in this post.

Knowing all the pros and cons of each device, you can make a more informed decision on whether a white noise machine or fan is best for you.

Benefits of using a white noise machine for sleep

white noise machine close up

Although some might think initially that sleep sound machines don’t help any more than fans do, there are some key benefits specifically of white noise machines to take note of. 

Ability to change noise, sound, and tone

The beauty of white noise machines is that you can adjust the sounds created by the device for your preference.

Analog white noise machines typically contain a fan that generates noise within the device. These devices tend to have plastic covers with holes around the top and sides that can change the pitch of the fan noise when you turn the cover. In turn, analog white noise machines are great for adjustable yet authentic fan noise for sleep.

Digital white noise machines are also excellent because they typically have a wider variety of white noise to choose from. Often times these devices have variations of fan noises but also nature sounds like running water, rainfall, waves crashing on the beach and more. Due to the larger variety of sound options, digital white noise machines are particularly personalizable. Unlike fans that only produce one tone of white noise, digital devices can give you more variety.

More aesthetically pleasing

Although fans do provide great background noise, a clunky old table fan sitting on your nightstand can be a bit of an eyesore.

One key benefit of white noise machines, particularly digital ones is that they look sleek, and modern compared to many table fans. After all, many are designed to be minimalist and aesthetically pleasing. These devices are typically about the size of a small alarm clock so they don’t take up too much space at all.

What makes digital white noise machines even a little bit more convenient than fans is that some are made to be portable. Lugging a desk fan to your hotel room so that you can get some shut-eye is obviously not ideal but with a portable white noise machine, you can listen to background noise anywhere.

Background noise without the extra chill

Obviously, if you just want to hear background noise when falling asleep without the added blowing air of the fan, then a white noise machine is the better bet.

If you live in an area where the winters are quite cold and the air gets dry, having a fan blowing around your room might not be ideal. It could make your room feel unnecessarily colder than it already is. In turn, if you are using a fan in the winter purely for the background noise, you might want to consider just switching to a white noise machine.

Benefits of using a fan for sleep

fan next to a bed

Using a fan to help you sleep on the other hand comes with its own unique benefits that white noise machines don’t have.

Fans cool you down… of course

If you have a fan pointed in your general direction, of course, it’s going to make you feel cooler as you fall to sleep. This is obviously something that white noise machines can’t do. Putting the white noise benefits of your fan aside, the cool circulating air in your room can also help you go to sleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night. Depending on the climate where you live, this might be something you want. 

There is nothing quite like falling asleep on a hot and humid summers evening with a fan gently blowing on you. Better yet, if your house isn’t unbearably hot, you can avoid spending money running the AC by instead just substituting with a blowing fan by your bed.

More authentic white noise

One of the greatest benefits of using your fan instead of a white noise machine for background noise is that the white noise generated from the fan may sound more natural.

Some digital white noise machines have white noise tracks that play on 10 or 15-second loops. Some of these tracks such as static or fan noises sound pretty sound seamless. However, on other tracks such as 10-second recordings of nature sounds, for instance, you might be able to pick up on the same patterns as they are repeated over and over again.  

This can drive some people absolutely crazy. Hearing various background noises in the same predictable pattern time and time again is enough to keep some people awake ironically. However, with the unwavering drone of a table fan, this will never be an issue.

Better ventilation

Fans, of course, can do more than just keep the temperature cool so that you can sleep comfortably.

If you have ever slept in a stuffy room with closed windows and doors and no fan, it can feel quite suffocating and even breathing can feel more difficult. 

Because fans keep the air flowing through the room, they can help to keep your room better ventilated. In addition, running fans help to reduce humidity. As a result, when you have a fan running it can be much easier to breathe and a better-ventilated room can help you feel less claustrophobic as well.

Final words

At the end of the day, there are some excellent benefits and drawbacks of both white noise machines and fans to take into consideration. However, it’s really a matter of personal preference to determine which device is best for you.

When determining which device might help you sleep better, really try to figure out what might help you fall asleep easier: the breeze or the white noise. When it comes down to it, if you really think it’s the cool gentle breeze of a fan that will help you get to sleep, obviously you should choose a fan over a white noise machine. However, if you are looking for a device purely its background noise benefits, a white noise machine might be the more appropriate purchase.

To learn more about the ways in which you can reduce noise in your bedroom, check out this guide on how to eliminate noise pollution in your bedroom