Tech Review: White Noise Machines. Your Savior in a Distracting World.

I get distracted easily when I’m trying to read or write.  Maybe there’s something out there that can help drown out life’s disturbances.

No, it’s not earplugs. It’s a tool that could help you concentrate by eliminating background noise, especially helpful while you’re trying to read or write.  It’s called a white noise machine, which can also be useful for drowning out your neighbor’s constant motorcycle or modified car tuning, which for some
reason, needs to be done at 10 o’ clock at night on a weekday. Or maybe that owl family in your 150 year old house’s attic, just won’t stop watching Legends of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole (a great computer animated movie featuring nothing but owls), on full blast, in the middle of the night, while you’re trying to sleep.
I wish I had one of those white noise machines when I was young. It may have helped me get through my studying, with less effort, which is very hard for someone whose mind
is always racing. Growing up, I have always had teachers include the phrase “gets distracted easily”, or ”has trouble focusing”, or “constantly fidgets” listed at the bottom of every report card. This was during my grade school years, especially.Back then A.D.D. / A.D.H.D., (Attention Defincite Disorder) didn’t seem as rampant (the condition existed, but I personally don’t recall the acronym existing – I’m sure I am mistaken.) This was the late 70’s / all of the 80’s.

My parents recognized my trouble with concentrating, even mentioned it to the school’s principal, and for some reason it was downplayed. It wasn’t taken seriously.To this day, my parents express regret that they didn’t push the issue further, especially when they hear me snap at my kids for breaking my train of thought. (My train of thought doesn’t run though the town that is also known as my brain, on a regular schedule.) I’m not saying I don’t use my brain. Just not like I want to.

There are rare times when I am deep in thought, daydreaming, or am actually focusing on something for more than a few minutes. I feel more alive for some reason, during these few and far between moments.Often, my mind races with repetitive thoughts. The same phrase over and over. Songs that I hear on the radio getting stuck on repeat in my mind. (Ear worms as they call it). Even songs I really like, I find myself getting sick of very quickly, as I play them during the day in my head more often than the radio station would play them in a whole week.

I get headaches from this. I know I have a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) due to other odd things I do. I’ve been to the ocd center of los angeles in the past, and this was confirmed. At the moment I can’t afford on-going therapy, so I’m trying to find a way to better manage my symptoms(Checking and re-checking door locks, overly thorough hand washing – which I don’t feel is a bad thing, with all the germs that are invisibly around us).
With every blog post I do, I find putting on headphones and listening to music helps me. My 3 kids make a lot of noise when they’re playing. Even when mommy is with them to remind them that daddy is working and needs to concentrate, my 4 year old daughter especially – who happens to be a daddy’s girl, is constantly calling out for me from downstairs. I swear, walls and doors aren’t as thick as they used to be.
As mean as it sounds to drown out my kids’ voices, for me, it must be done. I also suffer from Misophonia (when certain noises send you into a rage). Not so much with my kids, but mainly when it comes to car horns, cars with tuned exhausts or no mufflers, loud motorcycles, bass from people who insist on driving around with their windows down and car stereos up, thinking that
others will turn their heads towards them in admiration, when in actuality, they’re thinking “wow, that guy is damaging his hearing
while driving around trying to impress people on the sidewalk with his expensive audio system (which is sometimes worth more than the actual car it’s installed in!).
Don’t get me started on annoying people at the movie theater (which is why I wait for movies to come out on blu-ray, to watch them for the first time). It doesn’t matter if the newest Avengers is going to be awesome, or that all of my friends and even my wife are going to see it. I’ll watch it at home in a few months in my man cave, in the basement.  Even if I did go to the theater, I don’t think I’d be able to bring a white noise machine with me.  Where would I plug it in?  I could ask an usher for an extension cord, but they would be afraid of someone tripping on it in the dark.  Darn liability issues!
My kids’ whining gets to me when I’m composing a blog post. Don’t get me wrong. I will stop what I’m doing and will tend to their needs when their crying is actually real. (I’ve learned to tell the difference between real and fake).
As I mentioned earlier, listening to music helps me concentrate. It sounds counter productive for a person who suffers from A.D.D. It actually helps me. I remember the odd teacher in high school would permit us to use Walkmans/Discmans
(man, that makes me seem old, doesn’t it?). It would drown out the talking classmates while I was working on assignments.
Some people might not be able to concentrate with their reading or writing, with even music.
To them, I suggest using a white noise machine, which uses random, often peaceful sounds such as a raging waterfall, birds singing beautiful songs, a downpour of rain in a forest, or even ocean waves crashing against a rocky shoreline.
The machines range anywhere in price from $20 USD up to $100 USD, depending on quality, options, or settings.

HoMedics SS-2000G/F-AMZ Sound Spa Relaxation Machine with 6 Nature Sounds, Silver
-This machine, and one I like is at the lower end of the price range, which has six soundscapes to chose from, three auto-off times, and can run all night if you wish. It is smaller, light weight and is portable enough to fit easily in a suitcase. Runs on batteries or a power cord.

LectroFan – Fan Sound and White Noise Machine, White (FFP)
– mid range, has 10 fan sounds, and 10 white static noise sounds, can even be powered by a U.S.B. port, has a simple design with minimal buttons, but has no nature soundscapes. If you want the sound of the ocean, this one is not for you.

Ecotones Sound + Sleep Machine, Model ASM1002

This machine is a bit more pricey but has the best features, such as adaptive sound technology. If the sound you’re trying to drown out increases, it turns its volume up. When the sound gets quieter, it turns it down, automatically. It has 10 realistic, high quality soundscapes. Different timer options, but no running all night mode, sadly. Not as portable as the other two. Wall outlet powered only. Based on its aesthetics alone, I’d go for this one. Sure it costs more, but can you put a price on eliminating distractions?

As much as these machines may help me, I think I’ll stick with a cheap pair of earplugs while I’m sleeping (my wife has tried that method, but hearing her own heartbeat actually keeps her awake), and will use headphones with music while I’m writing.

My wife may get one of these for Christmas, though, as she hates my
constant snoring.