Ellen Vora, a psychiatrist in Manhattan, speaks with Vogue about the possible benefits of sound machines for getting sleep.

“I don’t think of sleep-sound machines as silver bullets,” she said. “But they can certainly be useful, sometimes to mask unwanted sounds, or other times to provide a soothing sound—I have a lot of patients who feel that it’s actually silence that gets to them.” As for the specific choice in sound, a few pointers: “White noise is preferable to heartbeats and waves and such—those are great for spa treatments, but for sleep you want something seamless, with no starting or stopping. As your thalamus is processing information, you want it to be less guarded, more relaxed.”

(It’s worth noting that what Dr. Vora recommended to improve one’s sleep, above and beyond any mere sleep-sound machine, costs absolutely nothing aside from one’s ability to recognize the obvious: “The most important fix for sleep issues,” she said, “is getting your phone out of the bedroom. Go spend $10 on an alarm clock.”)