How 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:
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.
Even sleep talking can be tackled with some lifestyle changes.
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!
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.
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.
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.