I started to find it really hard to get to sleep. Instead of staying up for hours, thinking, this sound machine gives me a rhythm for breathing and falling asleep and it’s louder than the voice in my head. Unlike a white noise machine, which can *only* create static, this unit offers a range of built-in natural sounds, plus expansion sound cards with more sounds for $15 and up. My wife is partial to the summer night sounds whereas I prefer the ocean surf, so we bought two cards and alternate: Rhythms of the Sea and Wilderness Journey. The sound can be played for a set time (30-, 60-, or 90-minutes), fades out gradually and it automatically shuts off. Unlike many machines that have a combination volume and on/off switch, this one has a great big button that only turns it on and off — very easy to hit with my eyes closed or while wearing a sleep mask.
I looked at a lot of different sound machines. I first tried one intended for babies. It was cheap and well-regarded, but had a very limited number of sounds which ranged from inauthentic to annoying, poor volume control and it clicked loudly when it shut off. I found there are a lot of poorly-made sound machines and a lot of good ones, but those cost a lot more. I wasn’t willing to go up to the next price point ($100), so for the money, I really think this is the best one for regular, at-home use. I’ve used ours for about six months now and use it every night to get to sleep. I even travel with it and play it on planes with earphones (it runs on AA batteries as well as AC).
Sure they make CDs and mp3s with similar soundtracks, but you can’t program fades or set automatic shut offs unless you have a fancy stereo/player, which our bedroom does not. Also, those albums aren’t necessarily designed for sleeping. I remember being in a Thai restaurant where there was a flat screen playing a scene of a running brook with birds, complete with sound. It did not take very long before I knew the sequence and what was coming next and how long the loop was. That kind of repetition only keeps me awake. The sounds on our expansion cards do not repeat all that quickly, or if they do, it is not at all obvious when they start over.