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10 Worst Sound Machine Sounds for Sleep Deprivation

Updated on October 20, 2015
The sounds of roaring thunder
The sounds of roaring thunder | Source

What's a Sound Machine?

Sound machines take soothing, natural sounds and bring them to life using a combination of digital, electronic, and various random signals (white and pink noises).

What sounds are excellent for sleep, and which sound machine sounds are the worst for sleep deprivation?

Ultimately that'll depend on you, but as an insomniac, I'm going to give you my rundown of sounds that do not work whatsoever. These noises are distracting, annoying, and fail to make me fall asleep.

They may work for you, but I'd be shocked if they help anyone with sleep deprivation get some shut eye.

I've rated the sounds on a sleep scale from 1 to 10 with those higher up being more pleasant and those near zero being an utter nuisance.

So let's dive in and explore the 10 worst sound machine sounds for sleep deprivation.

10. Wind Chimes


High Pitched Nuisance

Wind chimes are pleasant in their own right but not for insomniacs. The sound is too high pitched instead of soothing even in a low volume setting.

They sound much better if you're sitting outside on a porch bench reading the paper than during any overnight sleep period. It doesn't mix and match to our senses when the goal is to fall asleep.

  • Sleep Scale Rating: 6 out of 10

There are worse sounds to (not) snooze to so it's not the worst thing you could hear, but the chances of dosing off comfortably aren't high either.

9. Crowds/City Life


Sounds from the Big Apple

Does it feel nice to fall asleep listening to the sounds of a big city crowd or street life itself?

There may be something soothing about a low magnitude collection of voices and chatter, but there's no chance it would work as a sound machine noise for sleep. It may be nice to listen to people talk if you're into that sort of thing, but it'll fail to stimulate the languid many.

  • Sleep Scale Rating: 5 out of 10

Crowds aren't the ultimate detriment to sleep because there's an unusual attraction to hearing others nearby; it's therapeutic in a way. However a lot of individuals would prefer something a lot quieter and less intrusive.

8. Heavy Rain

Heavy vs. Light Rain


How could rain make sleep deprivation worse when it's ubiquitous with sound machines and white noise?

Well there's a huge difference between a light, steady rain and a heavy downpour. A light rain or rain drops tapping on a car window is very comforting but flooding rains take things to an uncomfortable level.

Even with common ambient noises like rain, less is more. I'd rather listen to something very light than something heavy any day.

  • Sleep Scale Rating: 5 out of 10

The audio of rain will never be a sleepy time deal breaker, but it'll dilute the soothing melody a lighter rainfall generates. Even the best sound machine sounds have a limit.

7. Crackling Fire


Snap, Crackle, Bust

Sitting in front of a campfire feels really nice on a chilly starlit evening, but it doesn't translate very well on a sleep device.

The crackling gets distracting after a while, and you don't get the warm sensation that an actual fire would bring. Sound machines are only there is simulate real world noises without the actual physical effects, but sometimes you need those physical sensations.

I love relaxing in front of a fire but it's the ambiance, the warmth, and the effect that work together to produce a calm feeling.

  • Sleep Scale Rating: 5 out of 10

The sound doesn't reflect the sensation, which is why it doesn't apply to a sleep device. As an insomniac, I've tried my hardest to fall asleep using a crackling campfire but the allure was missing.

6. White Noise

Unpleasant White Noise

Don't all sound machines use white noise to help you fall asleep, so why doesn't white noise itself help sleep mongers?

Actually it's a simple construct.

Most people wouldn't eat plain, white sugar but they'll have cookies and cake right. White noise serves as an essential ingredient in a sleep machine but it's not as effective if used individually.

The pitch and tone is unpleasant and while it may succeed for some, it doesn't achieve the goal of sleep for the sleep deprived.

  • Sleep Scale Rating: 4 out of 10

It's a case of having an overpowering though necessary component that can't work alone. It needs variations in the tone for truly soothing sounds to come about, which is why white noise needs to be retooled to be effective.

5. Bird Calls


Singsong Birds

Nature produces beautiful melodies, but come on it's a bit distracting when birds are chirping at 5 am on a Monday morning.

There's something about a singing bird that signals "wake up" in a negative way. So if bird chirps create an early morning disturbance, then it can't feel good listening to that sound throughout the night.

  • Sleep Scale Rating: 4 out of 10

I think of a bird's song as the much more soothing version of a rooster call. However the implications of each doesn't make me feel good about it even if the sound isn't annoying.

This is the only noise where the message is more irritating than the noise itself.

4. Train Tracks


Train Schedules

I don't have much to say about this sound, but it makes me feel like I'm near a major city. The sound of train tracks is rickety, unpleasant, and uninspiring.

It's also generic in tone and doesn't add anything to those struggling to rest. It's like watching an okay but extremely boring movie. There might be a lot worse out there, but I'm so bored that I wish I'd seen something more terrible (entertainment value).

  • Sleep Scale Rating: 3 out of 10

There's nothing redeeming about the sound of train tracks. It definitely won't help me fall asleep, but I probably wouldn't shoot myself for hearing it either. It's just a useless sound that I have no time for.

3. Crickets

Jiminy Cricket!

This is another one of those sounds like the crackling fire where it's a form of false advertising.

Listening to crickets is not the worst thing in the world, and it may actually be quite enjoyable if you're out for an evening stroll.

However it doesn't work as a tool to lull you to sleep. It works well as a background effect for a serene setting but doesn't give off that comforting sound when getting through the night is what matters most.

  • Sleep Scale Rating: 3 out of 10

It can become a nuisance quickly and only works under specific circumstances. It would definitely fail if used in a sound machine.

2. Dripping Faucet


Drip, Drip, Drip

I'll be the first to say that I cannot stand the sound of a dripping faucet; it's like torture to my ears.

I don't understand why people have used this because there's something so obnoxious about a sound of painfully slow drops splashing from a faucet.

In the real world, a drippy faucet is not something to be happy about, so why would I use it to help me fall asleep. I don't understand the people who've used this; I really don't.

  • Sleep Scale Rating: 2 out of 10

Based on the text, you'd think this was the worst sound to listen to but there's something even worse than a dripping faucet.

The last sound actually makes this one not so bad in comparison.

1. Croaking Frogs

The Lonely Toad

This is where I draw the line!

The sound of a bunch of croaking frogs is the opposite of sleep help. This is the sound you use when you're trying to stay awake, so I guess it has some purpose.

I don't hate frogs or anything but my goodness is this obnoxious. The dripping faucet feels like torture but this is actual torture. My eardrums are getting ripped to shreds, and I pray for the frogs to become part of a soup (no offense PETA).

Now granted there are worse sounds than this, but people actually use the sounds of croaking frogs to fall asleep (seriously).

  • Sleep Scale Rating: 1 out of 10

This is probably as close to 0 as I'd like to get. There's nothing redeeming about this sound, but hey next time I want to stay awake, I'll listen to Kermit the frog.

Hopefully I won't rip out my ears by the end though I'd probably love to.

Your Turn!

What noise annoys you the most?

See results


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