I've always been a light sleeper. As a kid, I would bang on the wall separating my bedroom from my brother's to try to get him to stop snoring. In college, I'd beg my noisy dorm neighbor to turn down his stereo. In my first apartment, I made my roommate keep her cat in her bedroom at night so I wouldn't have to hear him meowing. Being a light sleeper has always been one of my quirks, but I'd always figured out a way to get my Z's.
Then I moved to New York City.
The sirens. The 3 a.m. garbage trucks. The off-hours jackhammering. The nocturnal neighbor watching Greek soccer games until 5 a.m. "The city that never sleeps," indeed—I didn't get a good night's rest for the first two years I lived here. I tried to drown out the noise using ear plugs, by sleeping with a pillow over my head, by keeping my own television on all night, and by running a fan. None of those methods worked. I felt like a zombie most of the time.
Then I downloaded a white noise app on my iPhone, and it helped—but only a little. The tinny speaker wasn't powerful enough to fully drown everything keeping me awake.
Encouraged, I decided it was time to invest some money on a real white noise machine. I combed through reviews on Amazon and settled on the Lectrofan. At about $50, I choked a little when I hit the "place order" button. But the machine boasted nearly 5,000 five-star reviews, and I liked that its footprint on my nightstand would barely be larger than the glass of water I also keep at my bedside.
Two days later, my new sleep gadget arrived. I cycled through the 20 types of noise available and settled on one that sounded like a box fan. I turned up the volume to a point where I could no longer hear my neighbor's thumping bass, and wondered if the loud, constant whir would bother me.
It didn't. I slept like a log. What I'm going to say next is totally cliché, but 100% true: I woke up the next morning feeling like a new woman.
In the three years since I bought the Lectrofan (which, in addition to Amazon, is available at Target.com, Jet.com, Walmart.com, and others) I honestly cannot recall a night where I was woken up by outside noise. On nights when my surroundings are relatively quiet, I keep it at a low hum; when my neighbors are having a party, I crank it up. Sometimes, if I'm having trouble drifting off, I'll switch the setting to one of the other types of noise—airplane cabin, static, air conditioner—and the change helps me settle into dreamland.
I always travel with my Lectrofan. It's compact enough that you can easily fit it in a carry-on, or even a larger purse. I've even made room for it on vacations to France and Italy (and was especially glad to have it in Rome, where it turned out we were staying above a bar).
I am not exaggerating when I say that the Lectrofan has changed my life. When I'm able to consistently sleep eight hours a night, I've noticed some obvious benefits, like more energy and a perkier mood. But there are some less-obvious ones as well, like I tend to get more exercise and am more likely to cook dinner. Simply put, sleeping well makes me happier.