illustration of a house with different sources of noise from neighbors in each windowHow much sleep have you lost recently because of inconsiderate neighbors or a snoring partner?

For sensitive sleepers, noise can be one of the biggest obstacles to a good night’s sleep.

It’s one thing to ask a housemate to turn their television down. But it’s not so easy to stop someone snoring or put an end to a party in full swing.

Fortunately, there are ways to block out both external and internal noise – or at least reduce it to a tolerable level.

1. If you can’t stop the noise, block the noise

Sometimes your best chance for peace is to stop the sound reaching your ears. Or perhaps replace it with a sound which you find more relaxing.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try and stop the noise at its source when possible. But it may be a case of focusing your efforts on reducing how much noise reaches you.

My top three suggestions for blocking noise are:

foam earplugs

2. Coping with a noisy bed partner

Many sleep disorders involve making noise while sleeping. While you shouldn’t blame your partner for having a sleep disorder, it’s reasonable to expect them to consider treatment.

For example, if you sleep with a snorer, there are plenty of good snoring devices they can try. And you might find it helpful to read the longer article about sleeping with a loud snorer.

Even sleep talking can be tackled with some lifestyle changes.

woman trying to block out noise with a pillow

3. Soundproofing your home

Sound has an astonishing ability to find its way through the smallest of gaps. Add since sound waves can transmit through most solid walls, it takes some effort to fully soundproof a room.

Installing proper soundproofing can also be expensive, or a complex DIY task which your landlord might not allow.

So here are some basic tips for soundproofing your bedroom:

  • Make sure all gaps and cracks are sealed. Check your window frames, door frames, floorboards and skirting boards. Use an appropriate sealant if necessary.
  • Hang heavy curtains or drapes on windows and even walls to soak up some sound.
  • Buy a blackout blind which has inbuilt extra soundproofing.
  • Create a solid mass at the offending wall. For example, put bookshelves, cupboards or wardrobes on the wall which is next to your partying neighbor or noisy housemate.
  • Make sure the room above you has a thick carpet.

For more information on soundproofing, there’s a useful article on howstuffworks.com. It also explains in more detail why it’s hard to soundproof rooms!

sound proofing diagram
The sound from a television can easily find its way to other rooms.

4. The art of communication

If the troublesome noise is coming from someone you live with, it shouldn’t be too difficult to ask them nicely to be quieter – in theory.

In reality, we all have different perspectives on what’s unacceptably noisy, what time is considered late at night, and how well others should tolerate our choice of activity.

But really it boils down to the art of negotiation – or control if you’re a parent. It’s important to ask someone diplomatically to understand the fact that the noise is affecting your sleep, daily life, and well-being.

That, in my experience, usually gets a better result than accusing someone of being unreasonable. By calmly asking for help and understanding, you’re more likely to get it than if you confront them angrily.

Don’t start a sound war

If it’s a neighbor disturbing you, resist the temptation to start a sound war. Again, start with a polite request and continue to ask politely. If you blast your music back at them, nobody wins.

If someone is willing to work with you, then you can do some experiments to find the maximum volume they can put a television of stereo at without you hearing it. They could even use a little sticker to mark the maximum volume point.

photo of a man trying to sleep in one room with a noisy neighbor in the room next to him

5. Call the noise-busters

It’s a dramatic course of action, and won’t earn you any friends. But if your neighbors are continually noisy in a disrespectful way, there may be a local government noise pollution department you can call.

This varies from country to country, but might be the only way to deal with building work on a Sunday morning or constant late night parties.

Looking up the law where you live can help prepare your case. Check online what time builders can use power tools, what time fireworks can go on to, how late music can be played in the street.

6. Move your bedroom

Again, this would be a dramatic course of action and not everyone will have the option to simply move bedroom.

But if your bedroom is on the main road, or next to a room with a screaming toddler, it might be worth shuffling your rooms around.

7. Mind over noise

Sleep problems often end up in a vicious circle, and noise is no exception. The stress of being kept awake by noise can itself turn into a worry that you won’t sleep. And that worry then becomes the reason you can’t sleep.

How do you fix this? Well, the goal is to reduce how much you allow yourself to be upset by noise at night. How you go about doing that though can come down to several factors.

If you’re a sensitive person, prone to stress and anxiety, then it can be difficult to let go. Trying to adopt a new attitude that you forgive whoever or whatever is making the noise, and that you can learn to sleep with it can take time.

But it’s not impossible. And in most cases, people do eventually become accustomed to noise like traffic and learn to sleep with it.

Your views

Does noise keep you awake at night? Feel free to share your story or vent your frustration in the comments below.

And if you have any useful techniques for coping with noise at night, I’d love to hear them.

134 thoughts on “How To Block Out Noise In Bed”

  1. Hi!
    I’m troubled with the condition of misophonia, my family doesn’t know and I’m scared of telling them. There is one person that breathes and eats REALLY loudly and I’m not sure how much more I can take. I’ve told them on a few occasions to try to keep it down but they simply ignore my request. I don’t want to be rude to them, but they are simply too loud for me. Also, I would feel they wouldn’t take it correctly if I ask to buy earbuds, put my headphones/earphones on, and border up my bedroom as well as move it. I really hope you could help me
    Kind regards

    1. Hi
      Thanks for your comment. What is it that scares you about telling your family? Were you diagnosed by a doctor, and if so, what did they advise for coping with it?
      Regards
      Ethan

  2. Hello!!!! Been with my partner for almost 2 years now, we both have different sleeping problems from different ends of the spectrum. He has sleep apnea, and i feel as if, i am the lightest sleeper on the face of the planet. It bothered me some times at the beginning of our relationship but now i feel as if i have no control. We currently are residing at his grandmother’s house. Which is a blessing but a curse at the same time. The floors are wooden and hollow and she has the tendency to wake at the break of dawn. She seems to not realize her continuous adventures up and down the hallway (about 15 back and fourth in the duration of 30 mins) is waking everyone in the house at an alarmingly early time EVERY morning. This includes not only me and my partner but our sons as well, he has one who is 6 and mine is 3. During the night i have tried every possible form of head phones, ear plugs available but i still seem to be losing anywhere between 3 to 5 hours of sleep a night. I am currently half way through my last trimester of pregnancy with our 3rd child and ive become rather irritable. Because, my assumption is, lack of sleep. Im not sure if it has become unbearable because of my current state but my partner. Is getting irritated as well especially when he finds me sleeping in different rooms of the house. Please advise me of what possibilities are still available to me im losing my mind. Thank you

    1. Hi Savannah
      Sorry to hear you’re having this problem. I guess the first thing would be to speak to her about how it’s affecting you and see if there is a way you can ask her to change her dawn habits! Either that, or adjust your timings to be more in tune with her if possible.
      I will be updating the article in the near future, as I have spoken with a sound engineer recently about this problem, who had some interesting ideas. One thing he told me was about sound energy from the house basically rattling around the bedroom, especially if it has lots of wooden floors with no carpets. His suggestion was to fill the room with more objects, especially fabrics, as this will help absorb the sound entering the room and reduce how much reaches your ears – which might help the earplugs out a little more. He also suggested putting carpet with underlay down. And as a last resort, putting thick carpet patches or neoprene under the bed legs.
      Regards
      Ethan

  3. Hi! What is the best strategy for blocking the sound of talking/yelling? Do noise-canceling headphones block those kinds of sounds?

    1. Hi Jana
      If the shouting is nearby, they might help but only if you have music on as well as the noise canceling activated. But really, stopping loud shouting nearby from getting through to your brain is no easy task! Personally, I’d try some good foam earplugs first as they are cheap and can work well, before spending a lot of money on headphones that might not do what you need.
      Regards
      Ethan

  4. Hi, Ella here
    We live in the area where it rains a lot, I thought it would be a nice relaxing noise but it bothers me so much. The rain goes through the gutters and makes so much noise. I tried sleeping on the couch downstairs but nothing works. And I also can’t use headphones because I won’t hear my alarm for school. Please help!!!

    1. Hi Ella
      If you use a loud traditional alarm clock, I bet you will still hear it! You could also try putting a timer on the music you listen to so you only have it when you go to sleep.
      The alternative is to find a way to make peace with the rain noise. Perhaps accepting that it happens, that it’s nature, and not focussing on it might help. Try doing breathing exercises when it rains to focus your mind on something else other than the annoyance of the sound.
      Regards
      Ethan

  5. I’m in an apartment right now where my master bedroom headboard wall is shared with the next door units bathroom sinks. It’s kept me up for 3.5 months and it seems to have just gotten worse. I have insomnia now. I’ve tried white noise, a bunch of different ear plugs, headphones, moving my bed… and I can still hear the plumbing pipes knocking quite loudly through the wall (at +/-60dBs) as late as midnight and as early as 5:30 for hours at a time, which does not give me much time to peacefully sleep. I’ve been trying to work with the landlord, but it hasn’t been fixed yet. I think they need to open up the wall. I’m at my wits end.

    1. Hi Annalise
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you have this problems. It must be bad if all those things you tried have not helped! Have you tried putting some insulation of any kind over the wall itself as a temporary measure? Is it possible to sleep in a different room until they fix it?
      Regards
      Ethan

  6. Hi can you figure out this conundrum?

    Moved into a flat and the neighbours have been stomping running dropping things moving furniture and screaming since 6 am every day since May. I spoke to them and at the door discovered they have removed their carpet. Landlord says there is nothing they can do for now (very lazy landlord took 2 months to fix the bathroom so it was usable)

    Neighbours excuse is they here nothing from above them so it must be me. That’s because the guy above them is a single guy and super quiet (he’s a good friend)

    I’ve tried music and noise apps (ocean etc), banging back on the ceiling, sleeping under cushions, sleeping on the sofa in a different room and if I try headphones I won’t be able to hear my alarm right?

    I tried “not caring” but that doesn’t stop it waking me up and the noise team say speak to the landlord

    HELP!!!!!!!

    1. Hi Sam
      Thanks for sharing, and sorry to hear your noise problem. It sounds like it’s an older house then, so with no carpet, the floorboards can be noisy for sure. If there isn’t much insulation, even them walking around, moving a chair to get up etc, can sound much noisier to your when you’re in bed in the dark. So sometimes, even if they aren’t being unreasonably noisy, the level of ‘normal’ noise can seem insanely noisy to the person trying to sleep. Obviously, screaming is not great though and my theory doesn’t help much there…

      In terms of blocking the noise, short of putting some insulation yourself on the ceiling (imagine you’re trying to build a music studio in your bedroom!), blocking noise might be the only answer if you need to sleep when they are awake.

      If you listen to music on headphones via your phone, an alarm should cut through it. Test it out. If not, you could get a sleep tracker bracelet that has a vibrating alarm to get you up.

      Regards
      Ethan

  7. I live downstairs my neighbor lives upstairs every night she drops objects on the ceiling I tried to talk to her but I think she has a mental issue can’t sleep at all what’s the best ear stoppers i can purchase

    1. Hi Lionel
      I understand your suffering, believe me! Personally, I use standard foam earplugs with a noise reduction rating as high as possible, usually around 33 decibels. It can also help to listen to music on headphones with noise canceling.
      Regards
      Ethan

  8. I live on a terraced row of houses..every single day the children are screaming next door..they are sent to bed at 6.30pm and awake by the time we are going to be round 10pm they will scream for a while and then my husband manages to go sleep but I can’t..then we get to 1ish in the night and the screaming starts again for an hour and then stops till 3:30-45am and starts again and so my husband is up for work at 04:30am and by that time av still had no sleep..then around 06:10am the screaming starts again till gone 7:30am when the parents decide they’re going to go and sort them out..bare in mind inbetween all this the children are being shouted at constantly and they never do anything or go anywhere apart from stay in the house..we are moving house eventually after Xmas but this is killing us cos we can’t get any sleep cos it’s every single day of the week..weekends we try and get a lay in till 9ish but we can’t and so we are up at the crack of dawn on weekends..my husband and I are like walking zombies..am at my wits end..our tv in the bedroom is on to drown the noise out but has to be quite loud to do that and so we are no better off..none of this noise is children playing..this is children constantly screaming and the children are being totally ignored..I feel sick every day and my hubby is worn out at work plus I have insomnia anyway so really struggle..what can I do that worn disturb my innocent neighbours on the other side ??

    1. Hi Ajay
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you have to put up with this – and those poor kids too. Thankfully, you’re moving soon. But I imagine it seems like an eternity at the moment. Is there another room you could move the bed too until you move out? Otherwise, you might have to try multiple methods – good foam earplugs, maybe earphones over the top to see if that adds enough sound blocking to help. But really, with that much noise, it’s not easy to block it all out completely.
      Regards
      Ethan

  9. I live next to a school, at 3:30 am the snow clearing crews show up to start working, it is extremely loud, wakes me up and I can’t fall back asleep. I have contacted bylaw hoping that they could push back their start time to 5 am but because it is a school and a priority, nothing can be done. I am nervous about earplugs because I have a child at home who may wake up and need me (my husband works out of town). I am a very sensitive sleeper, the slightest noise keeps me up, even in the summer when we need a fan on, I have an awful time getting and staying asleep. What do you suggest?

    1. Hi Jessica
      Sorry to hear you have this issue. It seems like maybe you need to stop the noise getting into the house as much as possible. Could you move bedrooms to the other side of the house? If not, can you do something to add another layer of sound proofing to the window?
      Regards
      Ethan

    1. Hi there
      I agree, for noise that isn’t too loud, headphones and music are a simple and effective solution.
      Regards
      Ethan

  10. Hi,

    I live in a student home where there are parties every single night till 8 A.M. I have a lot of noise because of the music and screaming (I sleep 5 meters away from the party, it comes from my window). Is a noise cancelling headphone the right way to go? White noise and earplugs barely work so far.

    1. Hi Linda
      Thanks for your comment. To be honest, if you live right next to extremely loud noise, there might be nothing you can do to completely block it out. Sorry!
      Noise cancelling headphones might help a little, but they probably won’t do much better than earplugs or white noise. You could perhaps try listening to white noise through those headphones if you can tolerate it.
      It might take some experimenting, but I wouldn’t spend big on headphones unless you can definitely get a refund if they don’t work well enough for you.
      Regards
      Ethan

  11. my boyfriend is up all night slamming doors has the tv on in the bedroom and shouts till he goes to sleep in the morning. I constantly ask him to be quiet as he’ll speak quietly for 5 minutes then start shouting again I can’t cope with only getting sleep when he lets me.

    1. Hi Jade
      Thanks for your comment. Do you know why he’s shouting so much and slamming doors? Is there an obvious reason for it?
      Regards
      Ethan

  12. My husband snores and talks in his sleep. It’s only been going on for two years and I’m sure a lot of it is due to stress. I can gently roll him over, because it happens when he’s on his back, but he rolls over again and again. Last night he woke me at 3:15am. I turned him 6 times before my alarm went off at 6:30. I tried ear plugs but they don’t work as I’m a side sleeper. He won’t like it if I move to the couch but I don’t know what else to do.

    1. Hi Jean
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’re having trouble because of his snoring. Have you tried soft foam earplugs? I’m a side sleeper too, and don’t have an issue with them, especially if I use a soft pillow.
      It’s probably a good idea to get him to try some techniques for dealing with the snoring too, rather than it all being about you trying to cope.
      Regards
      Ethan

  13. I have white noise, earbuds, shooting earmuffs. Take sleep aids. Still, the sound of the wood floorboards creaking wakes me up.
    Using earbuds means I hear my asthmatic breathing, shooting muffs kinks my neck. So now I get 4 hrs sleep max.
    The solution, forgive the wood for creaking and don’t allow myself to get angry. What useless advice this is.

    1. Hi there
      I’m sorry you didn’t find the advice helpful. I can understand your frustration if nothing has worked for you. But I do think there’s something to be said for working on that way you cope with the noise if it’s literally impossible to stop it from happening and nothing blocks it either. At the end of the day, it might be the only thing we can actually change.
      Regards
      Ethan

  14. I just moved to a new area, but I’ve been having a hard time sleeping due to all the traffic noise. I like your point about sealing any gaps and cracks in your windows and doors. I’ll have to carefully check my room for places that noise can get in from.

    1. Hi Derek
      Thanks for your comment. Traffic noise is one of the worst for me – it rumbles right through the house if it’s bad enough. It’s amazing how much sound can travel through even small gap, so I hope it helps you if you find any to seal up.
      Ethan

  15. Hi!

    My husband works night shifts every eight weeks, he sleeps during the day and every other weekend he works and the kids have a hard time staying quiet while he sleeps. I’m debating on whether to buy him a white noise machine or no. Will this help? Do they sell a machine to cancel any noise outside the room?

    1. Hi there
      Thanks for your comment. I understand the problem – it’s not easy getting kids to stay quiet for long periods of time! White noise might help. All the machines are created with the intention of being able to cancel some noise from outside – how well they do it or not depends on many things, like the quality and volume of sound, the type of sounds it produces, the exact external noise, how far away it is etc. If you’re not sure, you could always do a trial run with a smartphone App – there are plenty of free ones.
      Regards
      Ethan

  16. Hello. I have a new born baby who is a very loud sleeper.
    When I am working my wife does the night feeds as I’m up early….
    What is the best thing to help me sleep and not be interrupted? As I’m a very light sleeper. Thank you

    1. Hi Ryan
      Thanks for your comment. If you don’t need to listen out for the baby at night, your best bet is probably a good set of earplugs, or sleeping in a separate room!
      Regards
      Ethan

  17. Hi,

    I’m in my early teens and I can hear my parents “doing it” in the next room. It’s really awkward to ask them to keep it down because they’re my parents, and earplugs irritate my ears. My door doesn’t shut as there are pegs hanging from it. I can’t fall asleep with music on either. Please help! :(

    1. Hi there
      Oh, yes, slightly awkward one! I think short of telling them honestly to keep it down, your options are a bit limited. You could try silicone or wax earplugs rather than foam. Perhaps listen to music on headphones. Or even make lots of noise yourself one night to educate them about the lack of sound-proofing!
      Regards
      Ethan

  18. I usually don’t have any trouble falling asleep because, for the most part, my house is pretty silent at night. However, in the morning i’m constantly being woken up by my neighbor’s lawnmowers. Not really sure why they need to mow their lawn so early… I’m also just woken up by sounds of my family getting up in the morning. I’m lucky to have a pretty silent house falling asleep at night, but staying asleep in the morning is a different story. Any tips on how to stay asleep in the morning? I’m also just worried for when I go to college that I’m not going to be able to fall asleep or stay asleep with all the activity that goes on.

    Thanks,
    Kathryn

    1. Hi Kathryn
      Thanks for your comment. To be honest, what works at night will work, or not, at any time of the day! It’s obviously louder during the day as the world wakes up. In my experience, sometimes the best thing is to adjust your own body clock so they don’t wake you up in the middle of your night!
      As for the lawnmower, there’s no earplug that can block out such a loud sound if it’s right near your window. A friendly chat with the neighbour is your best bet.
      Regards
      Ethan

  19. Hello,
    I am suffering from insomnia in the last 2 years. I am very sensitive to noise sound even very low frequency sound also irritate me to sleep at night. I live in a rural area, there are many crickets which chirp at night which irritate me and I feel very annoying to sleep. please help me.

    1. Hi Mantu
      Thanks for your comment. It’s annoying when animals outside keep you awake. On the one hand, it’s nice to hear wildlife and nature. But on the other hand, if you can’t sleep it’s not so great! I have the same problem with birds where I live.
      Have you tried using earplugs at all? They tend to work well for sounds like crickets in my experience. And it might help to try to take your mental focus off the sounds – meditation, breathing exercises etc can help with this.
      Regards
      Ethan

  20. Hello Ethan, I suffer from hyperacusis. I can hear a pin drop! This is only a problem at night. I have been surviving on 2-3hrs sleep for almost a year now. I have tried everything, including custom made digital noise cancelling ear plugs. I am really at my wit’s end!! Can you offer any help? Are there other earplugs that block out noise, and which one’s. I have even had a ?4mm laminated hush window installed.A specially designed material along with my normal glass window. I have sought help everywhere here in Australia but I have hit a brick wall. I really need some help. I am so sleep deprived. Could you please answer me by email. Thank you kindly. Carol. This is my first experience with posting on a site. I eagerly look forward to your response.

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