How much sleep have you lost recently because of noise? Has being kept awake left you frustrated, sleep-deprived and stressed?
For sensitive sleepers, noise can be one of the hardest things to deal with. It may be easy to ask a teenager to turn their television down, but it’s perhaps not so easy to deal with neighbours who are party animals.
Worse still, what if you sleep next to someone who snores or sleep talks? Fortunately there are measures you can take, no matter how close the source of the noise is. In this article you’ll find out how to block out noise and reclaim the peaceful sleep you deserve.
1. If you can’t stop the noise, block the noise
It would be great if it were possible to stop all noise from happening in the first place, but a lot of the time it isn’t. You can’t, for example, stop cars driving on the road.
That often means that the best thing you can do is find a comfortable way to stop the sound getting inside your ears. Or perhaps replace it with a sound which you find relaxing.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try and stop the noise at its source, if that’s possible. It’s just exploring the reality that sometimes the only thing you can control is your reception of the noise.
My top three suggestions for blocking noise are:
2. Dealing with a noisy bed partner
With over 80 different sleep disorders, many of them involve making noise while sleeping. Whilst it’s unfair to blame your partner for having a sleep disorder, it is reasonable to expect them to consider treatment options, if possible and viable.
For example, if you sleep with a snorer, there are plenty of good snoring solutions they can try out. If they grind their teeth, again there are options to help prevent that. And even sleep talking can be controlled with some lifestyle changes.
3. Soundproofing your home
Sound has an astonishing ability to find its way through the smallest of gaps. Add to that the fact that sound waves can transmit through most solid walls, and you can have great difficulty stopping sound getting into your bedroom.
Getting proper sound proofing can be very expensive, or a difficult D.I.Y task which your landlord may not even permit. So here are some basic tips for sound proofing your bedroom which you should be able to get away with:
- Make sure all gaps and cracks are sealed. Check your window frames, door frames, floorboards and skirting boards.
- Hang heavy curtains or drapes on windows and even walls to soak up some sound.
- Create 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 flatmate.
- Make sure the room above you has a thick carpet.
For more information on sound proofing, there’s a useful article on howstuffworks.com which explains in more detail why it’s hard to sound proof rooms.
4. The art of communication
If the troublesome noise is coming from someone you live with, then 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 and daily life because of that.
That, in my experience, usually gets a better result than accusing someone of being unreasonable. By admitting a ‘weakness’ and asking for help, you’re far more likely to get it than by starting with accusations.
If it’s a neighbor disturbing you night after night, then whatever you do, don’t start a sound war. Again, start with a polite request and continue to ask politely. The very second you start blasting you music back at them, it’s all over. Think about it – if they started a sound war with you, would you give in?
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.
5. Call the noise-busters
It’s a dramatic course of action, and won’t earn you any friends. But if your neighbours are noisy night after night in a completely disrespectful way, there may be a local government noise pollution department you can call.
This varies from country to country, but may be the only way to deal with building work at 7 a.m. on a Sunday 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. There are often laws for activities like these.
6. Move your bedroom
Again, this could be a dramatic course of action. But if your bedroom is on the main road, or next to a room with a screaming toddler, then swapping your bedrooms around might be a very effective option.
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 highly 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 can become accustomed to noise like traffic and learn to sleep with it.
It’s always great to hear from readers and how you cope with sleep problems. And sometimes it’s just nice to have somewhere to share your story or vent your frustration.
So please feel free to share your story in the comments below. And if you have any useful techniques for stopping noise at night, I know other readers will be very appreciative.