7 best sounds for sleeping (2021): rain landscapes, white noise machines and more


On boats in Southeast Alaska, they call it the “diesel coma”. The gentle roar of boat engines combines with rough seas and petroleum water, cradling you in some of the best zs you’ll ever catch, on a fishing boat or otherwise. When I was a camp counselor at Sitka Fine Arts Camp, I discovered the joy that is diesel coma. Some of the best naps I’ve ever had were on trips between the islands.

At the start of the pandemic, my latent desire for a home audio sleeping pill became an absolute need. I had to distract me from my racing thoughts after sunset. Without a large body of open water and a pair of diesel V-8s, I looked at the next best thing: the Echo Dot with a clock. I have scrolled through various sleep sound options, but to no avail. None of them felt real enough, Natural enough, so that they can put me to sleep.

Finally, I discovered Rainforest Sounds through Voice Apps, LLC. It is a layered soundscape built over a gently rolling stream. You hear the chirping of birds, the muffled hoot of an owl, and other soothing sounds in a combination that grabs your attention and does nothing with it. When I listen to Rainforest Sounds, my brain becomes inside the white room where God hangs out in the movies. Whenever I need something to help me sleep, it’s the first thing I turn on.

It got me thinking: what do other members of the WIRED Gadget Lab use to pass out? During one of the recent weekly WIRED Gadget Lab meetings, I mentioned my beloved Rainforest Sounds and in return received a barrage of special sounds from others. So, without further ado, here are the sounds we love to fall asleep to, from traditional favorites to more quirky options.

If you are looking for a speaker for listening to the sounds of sleep, we recommend the small smart speakers from Amazon and Google. They cost less than $ 100 and easily offer enough fidelity to emulate annoying streams, fans, and other noise. Be sure to check out our buying guides for the best Bluetooth speakers and the best wireless headphones. Do you have your own hyper-specific favorite to make you doze off? We would love to hear about it in the comments.

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Tropical forest sounds by voice apps


For over a year, my favorite sleep sound to fall asleep has been using the gentle sounds of nature. The combination of rushing water, bird calls and buzzing insects makes me feel like I’m camping. I also like that it’s a super long loop, about an hour, but that it fades between the intro and the outro so you never wake up to a quick change in sound. —Parker Room

Rain landscapes

ios, Android

This handy app lets you choose from different rain sounds. You can opt for a thunderstorm, the sound of raindrops on a roof, and a few other options. It’s a good free alternative to the great Rainy Mood app ($ 3). —Louryn Strampe



Watching ASMR videos to fall asleep can develop a tingling tolerance, which makes it more difficult to achieve the same feeling of relaxation. It was a fluke to stumble on this chain. Sophie, the creator, makes aesthetic videos centered on craftsmanship, nostalgia, makeup and hours of plastic tapping sounds. ASMR is a saturated space, but these videos comfort me without fail. —Louryn Strampe

End of Times II


Sometimes I need a little atmosphere to fall asleep, to put my brain in a particular place, in a particular mood. One of my favorites is the album End of time II on Spotify. It is composed of remix of music by The Legend of Zelda: The Mask of Majora, the deliciously bizarre sequel to the hit game N64 Ocarina of time. It’s brooding, gloomy, and there are sometimes forest sounds mixed in. It doesn’t put me to sleep as much as it takes me to a place as soft, dark, and safe as a bed of moss inside the Great Mojo Tree. —Jess Gray

Fan sound box


During a three week trip to Asia, my partner and I sorely missed the box fan we usually leave when sleeping. We played this reliable and realistic loop for eight hours every night. Spotify Wrapped even said it was my best song of the year. Pro tip: Use the crossfade setting to avoid annoying pauses when the “song” starts over. —Louryn Strampe

White noise Ambiance Lite

ios, Android

Even though I like to listen to the rain or the birds in front of my window, I am not a fan of the fake versions often available on sound machines. But I also needed to filter out all the noise that occurs in apartment buildings. This is how I found the White Noise Ambience Lite app. It has your classic options, like ocean waves and the chirping of insects, but there’s also the crackle of a vinyl record and my favorite, a clothes dryer. It’s just the right amount of noise to block out everything else and put me to sleep. —Medea Giordano

From fellow product reviewer Matt Jancer to other members of the WIRED family, many swear by the choices in our guide to white noise machines. Our top pick, the LectroFan Classic ($ 50), has a surprisingly sophisticated range of pink, brown, and white noise. It even has the capacity to go up to 85 decibels of distraction (but still safe enough not to damage your ears overnight).

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