Sleep sound apps have millions of downloads in the App Store and Play Store. Whether it’s good ‘ol white noise or rain sounds, people seem to love sleeping with noise. If you’re one of them, it’s time for an upgrade.
On the surface, it seems like a smartphone would be the perfect sound machine. It’s already on your night stand, it has a speaker, and it has access to apps that can play a wide variety of sleep sounds. That’s fine on occasion, but if you’re serious about needing background noise while sleeping, there are much better options out there.
There’s a reason why so many people use their phones for sleep sounds instead of an actual sound machine: convenience. Smartphones can do so many things that we used to require specialized devices. Sometimes the phone is easier, but not always.
I’m not going to argue a phone isn’t easy, but a sound machine is actually even more convenient. You simply push a button to turn it on. That’s it. No fiddling with apps, volume buttons, voice commands, or a bright phone screen. You set it up once and it’s immediately ready from that point forward.
That’s the part I love about my sound machine. I’ve used my phone for white noise in the past, too. I didn’t see the need for such a specialized device. But finally buying a sound machine was a similar experience as upgrading my mouse—why didn’t I do this a long time ago? What I thought was convenient actually wasn’t.
Sound Quality & Longevity
If convenience isn’t important to you, sound quality is another thing to consider. Sure, your phone has built in speakers—probably not plural—but are they any good? Even the best smartphone speaker has major limitations.
Your smartphone’s speaker probably sounds tinny and isn’t capable of putting out room-filling audio. That’s just the reality of a speaker crammed into a relatively small device. The “sound” part of sleep sounds should not be overlooked.
My cheap $30 sound machine sounds so, so much better than my phone’s speaker. The white noise doesn’t sound so much like it’s coming from a specific location—it fills my bedroom evenly. There’s a lot more depth to the sound as well. Similar to the difference between a CD and vinyl.
Another benefit of a dedicated sound machine is longevity and consistency. You might upgrade your phone every year, and each one is going to sound slightly different. I’ve had my cheap sound machine for over four years and it sounds the same as it did on day one.
Free Isn’t Always Free
Let’s talk a little bit about the “free” sleep sound apps that are prevalent in the App Store and Play Store. These apps don’t cost anything upfront, but you’re “paying” for them in other ways. That could be with annoying interrupting ads, collecting personal data in the background, or eating up your data while streaming.
A dedicated sound machine doesn’t do any of that. There are no interruptions or loops, it doesn’t need an internet connection, and you don’t have to worry about signing up for accounts or having your activity tracked. Sometimes a “dumb” device is just better.
If You Must
A sound machine isn’t always a viable option. You might not want to travel with one, and most of them don’t have batteries to work without power. For those situations, what should you use? The best solution is the one that doesn’t require downloading any apps at all.
On the iPhone, Apple has buried a “Background Sounds” feature deep in the Accessibility settings. It has white noise, rain, ocean, and stream sounds. It’s annoying to access this every time you want sleep sounds, but it’s easy to create a home screen shortcut.
RELATED: How to Play the iPhone’s Secret Rain Sounds for Sleeping
Over on Android, the built-in method isn’t quite as good. You can use Google Assistant to simply say “play white noise” or “play thunderstorms” and it will do it. However, you do need an internet connection for this to work. Try the “BetterSleep” app if you need offline sleep sounds.
Smartphones have replaced a lot of devices, but sometimes the analog counterpart is better. It’s just easier to push a button than mess around with your phone before bed. While you’re at it, you might want to stop using your phone as a flashlight, too.