How much sleep have you lost recently because of loud neighbors or a snoring partner?
For sensitive sleepers, noise can be one of the biggest obstacles to a good night’s sleep – even when the source of the noise is understandable.
Considerate family members and housemates will usually turn down the television if you ask them politely. But it’s not so easy to stop someone snoring or sleep through the roar of your neighbor’s all-night party.
If your house has the dreaded combination of wooden floorboards and bad sound insulation, and people move around in the rooms above your bedroom, then you’re in for a whole world of noise problems if they stay up later or wake up earlier than you.
Noise has long been my nemesis when it comes to sleep. It’s the main reason I’ve spent years testing earplugs, sound machines, and various other ways to create my own little oasis of silence.
In this article, I’ll be sharing the techniques that have worked best for me personally, and suggesting ways that might help you either cut down the noise at night or at least reduce it to a tolerable level.
1. Block the noise
Sometimes your best chance for peace is to prevent as much of the noise as possible from reaching your ears. If that doesn’t work, another technique is to mask it with something you find more relaxing, such as music, ambient sounds, or white noise.
I’m not suggesting giving up on trying to stop the noise at its source if you’re able to. But when someone else controls the noise source, it’s sometimes more fruitful to focus your efforts on reducing how much noise gets inside your head.
I’ll often wear earplugs because they tend to block out a lot of the noise where I live at the moment. From time to time, I use headphones or a white noise machine though.
Below, you’ll find my current recommendations for each of these:
If you’re wondering which works best, my personal view is that it’s hard to beat a really good set of earplugs. The thing is, there are many to choose from, so I usually recommend trying a few different brands and sizes if the ones you get first don’t do the job well enough.
The difference between earplugs that fit you well with a noise reduction rating of 33 decibels and earplugs that don’t quite fit and only have a noise reduction rating of 27 decibels is very significant. So it’s definitely worth doing some of your own tests.
Some brands I recommend trying because they typically have high noise reduction ratings are Moldex, Howard Leight, Hearoes, Flents, Mack’s, 3M and Ear Buddy. All of these can be bought online. And if you live in the United States, the bricks and mortar store I’ve seen with the widest selection of earplugs recently is ACME.
2. Coping with a snoring partner
Some sleep disorders involve making noise while sleeping. While nobody should be blamed for having a sleep disorder, I think it’s reasonable to talk to your partner about seeking a professional medical opinion and treatment if possible.
If you sleep with a loud snorer, you could suggest they speak to a doctor to rule out sleep apnea – if they can access healthcare. Additionally, there are lifestyle changes and anti-snoring products they can try. Some can be bought online or in pharmacies, and a doctor or dentist can also recommend good ones. You might also find it helpful to read my article about sleeping with a loud snorer.
Other noise-generating sleep problems, like sleep talking or teeth grinding, can be addressed with self-help, lifestyle changes, or with the support of a medical professional.
My point here is that if your partner is willing to work with you on the problem, it might have a better outcome than you resorting to earplugs for years that don’t block out all the noise anyway.
3. Soundproof your bedroom
Sound has an astonishing ability to find its way through the smallest of gaps. Since sound can transmit through most walls, it takes a lot of effort to fully soundproof a room – especially if you’re trying to do it yourself because the original construction didn’t do it well enough.
If you have the budget, a helpful first step might be to hire an acoustic consultant. If you search for ‘acoustic consultant near me’ online you can ask how much they charge to visit your home and give you specific advice on dealing with the noise in your bedroom.
Installing proper soundproofing can be expensive though, or a complex DIY task which your landlord might not even allow.
Here are some tips for reducing the amount of external sound that gets through to your bedroom:
- Make sure all gaps and cracks are sealed. Check your window frames, door frames, floorboards, and skirting boards. Use an appropriate acoustic sealant if you can.
- Hang heavy curtains or drapes on windows (you could even try hanging heavy material on an adjoining wall to soak up some sound if nothing else works).
- Roll up a towel or other material and place it at the bottom of the bedroom door. You can also hang towels on windows if you don’t have curtains at the time.
- Buy a blackout blind that 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. It won’t block out all sound, but every little helps.
- 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 so hard to soundproof rooms.
And for DIY enthusiasts, familyhandyman.com has an excellent article explaining exactly how to soundproof a room, with steps for creating walls that will greatly dampen the sound.
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.
This means it’s the art of negotiation is going to be invaluable – 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.
In my experience, the tactic of calmly explaining how your life is affected usually gets a better result than simply accusing someone of being unreasonable. By asking for help and understanding, you’re more likely to get it than if you confront them angrily.
One practical example is to explain to an upstairs neighbor that you can hear them walking around in the morning before going to work, and ask if they’d mind putting their shoes or heels on just before they leave home? They might have not even realized their shoes were making so much noise and be fine with your suggestion.
Don’t start a sound war
If it’s a neighbor disturbing you, try to 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.
This might sound silly or impractical, but I’ve actually done it myself – when I was the offending noise creator!
Many years ago, my downstairs neighbor told me they could hear my music in the evening and they were working shifts so would appreciate it if I could keep the volume down after 8 p.m.
It only took us a few minutes of playing around with the volume and different songs to find the exact level where the bass wasn’t reaching their ears in bed. And in fact, it wasn’t much lower than I enjoyed listening to anyway, so I was fine with it.
5. Call the noise busters
This one is arguably a more dramatic step, and won’t earn you any friends: 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.
And while on the topic of making phone calls, if you live in a new build or an old house that was converted into apartments and the soundproofing is terrible, you might find the construction doesn’t meet building regulations. This would require some investigation, but might be worth it in the long run if you feel comfortable persuading the landlord to fulfill their legal obligations.
6. Move your bedroom
Again, this might seem like a dramatic course of action, and I know that not everyone has enough rooms to simply move their bedroom.
But if your bedroom is on the main road, next to a room with a screaming toddler, teenage heavy metal fan, or barking puppy, it might be worth shuffling your rooms around if you can.
If you don’t have a spare bedroom, and it’s only the occasional night that noise disturbs you, there’s another option: move your bed or even just the mattress to a quiet space in your home for the night.
I personally have no problem carting my mattress into the living room if it means I get some sleep. It worked when I was a student in a noisy shared house, and it still works 20 years later. I really don’t care if it looks weird.
I understand that not everyone is physically able to move a heavy mattress from room to room. In this case, another backup option could be an auto-inflating airbed that you keep in another room. Although it obviously won’t be as comfortable as a normal mattress, the portability gives you the option to sleep in the quietest spot in your home.
Finally, if you’re staying in a hotel for the night, ask in advance for a quiet room or even to change rooms if necessary. I find they are usually accommodating if you ask nicely.
7. Create a room within a room
In the years since I first wrote this article, I’ve thought a lot about the comments readers have left below.
A problem that crops up repeatedly is not being able to simply move rooms, and having issues like noisy upstairs neighbors, who perhaps walk around late at night and don’t have carpets, rugs or anything else to dampen the noise.
I asked my cousin about this recently, who is a sound engineer and has his own recording studio. What, if anything, can people in this situation do to reduce the noise? Isn’t there a simple material they can plaster all over their walls to shut out all the sound, just like he has in his studio?
If you have the money, you could pay a professional soundproofing company to come and remodel your bedroom in a way that might help, he told me.
Otherwise, what about creating a room within a room? Again, it’s quite an endeavor that requires money and/or decent DIY skills. There may also be building regulations and fire hazard issues to consider.
But the concept is one I wanted to mention here, as he seemed to think it would be a lot better than simply using earplugs.
How to do it is beyond the scope of this article, but if it’s an idea that interests you, I recommend reading the advice on homestudioexpert.com.
He also had three other useful tips that don’t require so much effort or expense:
- Put some thick squares of neoprene under the bed legs to reduce the noise vibrating its way to your brain.
- If you have a very minimalist bedroom, consider adding more soft furnishings like pillows, rugs, carpets and any fabrics which will help absorb noise energy.
- If the more high-level soundproofing steps seem too expensive, hard to achieve or just impractical, you could perhaps try yourself by using heavy curtains, or even the type used in theatres. We also discussed the idea of using a four poster bed frame to hang thick curtains, though we weren’t convinced it would help that much. But if you already own one, it could be interesting to experiment with.
8. 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. That worry then becomes the reason you can’t sleep.
If the person or thing making the noise makes your blood boil and fills you with rage, then that’s also not particularly conducive to good sleep. Put simply, it’s very hard to fall asleep when your head is full of angry thoughts.
How do you fix your own reaction to the noise? 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 might not be easy to let go. Trying to adopt a new attitude that you forgive (or at least tolerate) whoever or whatever is making the noise, and that you can learn to sleep with it can take time.
It’s not impossible though, and you might find you eventually become accustomed to certain sources of noise, such as traffic, and learn to sleep with it. I know the steady drone of traffic isn’t the same as a party next door at 2 a.m. But in that case, reminding yourself that it doesn’t happen every night (hopefully) might be the best tactic.
Personally, I try to take a few deep breaths to refocus my brain away from wishing I could use Jedi mind control to melt my neighbor’s speakers. It might sound over-simplistic, but focusing on your breathing is a tangible and effective way to reduce negative thoughts.
9. Body over noise
My personal experience is that I sleep better when I’m mentally and physically tired, even if it’s noisier than I’d like it to be.
I know from spending years observing my own sleep, and how different factors impact it, that when I go to bed feeling ready to sleep, I’m much more likely to sleep through noise than when I go to sleep with excess energy I haven’t managed to burn off.
So try to stay active, both physically and mentally.
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.
I have been sleeping on my couch for five months because both of my bedrooms share a wall with the neighbors next door and they play their TV until 1 am and I hear the bass in both of my bedrooms and can not sleep. I also get the vibrations with the sound. Any suggestions? Bose Noise Canceling Headphones did nothing to block the low frequency sound and vibrations, nor ear plugs. Running a fan and air purifier did nothing to block the noise. Moving my bed away from the common wall and putting felt pads under my bed did not help. Any ideas?
Hi, so I guess it’s going to be raining and going to be windy. My bedroom is by a gutter and when it rains really hard I can hear it hit the gutters. Do you have any ideas on how I can sleep through all of this?
I don’t really have any specific ideas for the noise of wind or rain, other than to try the ideas early on in the article. Earplugs work well for me for outside noises usually, as do headphones.
In your article, you have an illustration of stacking pillows over your head. You didn’t talk about this much. I’ve found it did help a bit. I was wondering if a memory foam pillow would block more noise than my feather pillow. It would be for those weekend mornings when I want to sleep a little more about people are out making noise such as cutting their lawns.
The reason is that the cartoon illustrates the point of being frustrated by a partner. I didn’t want to advise people to smother themselves though and I’m not sure it’s really a good long-term solution anyway. To answer your question though, I think maybe memory foam pillows would require more effort to fold over your head continually, which would be less comfortable anyway.
Ok this is the situation. I have a 10 year old who is in school. I was a happy single mother for the first 7 years of her life. I supported us both financially. For some reason I still don’t understand I decided I would buy a house with a boyfriend, we equally paid for it and it’s paid off in full. Now we can’t stand each other. So I thought working nights would be a great idea for all involved and I could still be home with my little one in the morning and after school. He never bothers me when I sleep but he intentionally disturbed my daughter. I know better than to accuse him of this because it will just make matters worse. So I had to quit my job, not a big deal. Anyways my question is this. I bought a white noise box. It’s ok if anyone has any good suggestions on a better brand or anything would be appreciated. I paid 40 for the one I use now and can’t spend another dollar unless I’m sure I can trust it will be an improvement. I have even had to resort to melatonin every night. And I’m not comfortable with that. I am working on getting my own home so he can have what we both equally spent in cost. I just want peace and quiet, melatonin free for my daughter.
Sorry to hear about the difficult situation you are in right now. What is the name of the white noise machine you bought? If money is tight, you could use a speaker and a free phone app instead, if you have that available. What kind of sound does he create that disturbs her sleep?
I hope you are well and sleeping well too. I have PTSD, so noises make me very jumpy and make sleep harder.
I am living with someone very noisy (slamming doors, shouty stage voice 6am to midnight) so I actually went for an extreme solution and had a cabin built in the back garden to use as a sleeping sanctuary. I am very lucky!
However, moving from a room in a house with insulated brick walls facing a quiet street, to a wood cabin with 45mm thick walls under lots of trees has had a surprise downside: the dawn chorus.
The birds are pretty noisy generally but I can tolerate it. But between 4am and 5am they are so, so loud. I read they give out all their mating calls in spring and summer when it’s not too light. No way can I sleep through it.
I guess my options are:
– Go to bed extremely early and get up with the birds!
– Try to soundproof the cabin. We need to insulate it anyway. I am trying to stick to natural materials and considered expanded cork wall tiles, or a frame filled with wool cladding covered with wood planks.
– Try earplugs or noise cancelling headphones. I already have Bose Quietcomfort earbuds and use a system of stuffing socks to make a donut shape to stop them digging in. This is comfortable for an hour or so but not all night. Also based on what you’ve said I’m not sure they’d work on birdsong. I am also intrigued by the QuietOn noise cancelling sleep buds.
Any suggestions very gratefully received as this is a very expensive project if it fails!
Thank you for all this great info :-)
Thanks for your comment. It’s very interesting to hear about your project and the lengths you felt you had to go to to get some peace. I guess it’s nicer being woken up by birds than slamming doors. However, I know from experience of living in the countryside that those birds do get started very early in the morning in the UK!
I have exactly the same problem where I’m currently living, but find that good foam earplugs do a good enough job of blocking out enough birdsong for me to stay asleep. But you do need really well fitting ones with a high noise reduction rating starting score to have much hope of blocking out their high frequencies.
I don’t think the Quieton are the best option for sleep, or for birds. So I would save your money on those.
That’s my advice before investing even more money in sound proofing your cabin. Try a few different types of decent earplugs. I’d order them online, and avoid the basic ones in UK supermarkets or pharmacies, as they tend to have a lower noise reduction rating. Perhaps try some Mack’s, howard leight, or moldex.
All the best
Thank you for your wonderful thoughts about noise and soundproofing. I was wondering if you could help me?
I live in 1 bedroom flat in a block, that was designed and built as a frame, then the flats (called Pods), were built separately, and then fitted into the framework building one by one. They are quite good on sound for flats, but I have something called Bi-polar and OCD, and I have figured out in the last 6 months or so, my sleep greatly affects my condition. There are new people who live above me now, and they are only in their early 20s, and seem to not care much about anyone else but themselves. I put some notes up at the start of Jan becomes if people let the internal doors, which shut automatically on their own as they are fire doors, slam, or even shut too much on their own, it reverberates up or down and wakes people up. I spoke to them myself and she made up excuses. I am 6foot 3, and have a lot of scars on my arms from self harm, so I didn’t wanna push it when I was not sure if she was there alone, as her saying I was getting stroppy (as she is someone who might exaggerate if it was to serve her purposes), would only look bad for me. So I backed down. My friend Becky came up and she went up there on the saturday and explained. At first they tried to fob her off, saying the woman was a building serveyer, and sound doesn’t travel through the walls as they are concrete. Even though her example was the walls to the sides of the flat, not the floor and ceiling, which is what we were referring to. Long and short, Becky told her she had also been woken up from then door slamming when she short at mine On the sofa. Her BF was there, and they both backed down a little after that. She went in their flat and they tried saying “they don’t make any noise”, and opened the door about a foot and let it shut, and Becky said “no, but you can’t fit through a gap like that and even if you open them a bit more (not even wide open), they do make noise. She told them about why I wasn’t talking to them myself, and about the bipolar things, and they were a bit more understanding. For a few nights it was ok, then last Tuesday in the day they slammed it, so I chucked a ball at the ceiling and it went quiet. Then again at 2.30 am on Sunday morning, and once again today. So I am pissed off, and have been reading all about how to use earplugs (which I have done anyway for years). I was thinking maybe there are ones that are better than the silicone and foam ones I have. I have noise cancelling headphones, but they are over the ear ones, so you can’t wear them and go to sleep on a your side.
You can get the in-ear ones that cancel noise, but I’m not sure how more effective they would be than silicone ones.
The flat above now has laminate floors, which won’t help.
Is there any way I can do stuff to stop the sound coming down the walls (it seems to), or in general through the ceiling?
I thought about moving my mattress, but they are totally unpredictable, and if I slept in the lounge, I don’t know if that would change the distance much between the doors they seem to be slamming, and where I am.
If you could think of anything, I would be very very very grateful.
Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with this.
Hear are my thoughts:
– First of all, I think you did the right thing in not being too pushy and having a friend help out. It will hopefully serve you well in the long run if you need to work with them somehow to reduce the noise. I’d avoid throwing stuff at the ceiling though if you can resist, as it is unlikely to achieve much other than annoying them too and making them care less about being quiet.
– I think moving the bed to another room can help a lot sometimes, but it depends on various factors. I would give it a go and see.
– Those fire doors usually have swing arms with more than one part that can be adjusted. The last ones I worked with had a setting for the initial door close speed, and another for the final closing. If you can get the landlord involved, they might be able to send someone to adjust them to reduce the speed of whichever setting is a bit off. I’ve done this before myself and it worked really well. It does depend on the particular door and the mechanism used though.
– Have you tried different foam earplugs? Those with a noise reduction rating of around 33 are worth exploring. And try different sizes to get the right fit for you. Brands I recommend are 3M, Heroes, Moldex, Mack’s, Howard Leight.
– Noise cancelling earphones can help, but if you’re a side sleeper it’s trickier. Sony make some good in-ear ones, but they won’t stop the sound of door slams reaching your brain unless you also have music playing through them. If you find music relaxing and can sleep with it, maybe try a headband style like the AcousticSheep sleepphones.
– Preventing impact noise at your end is very hard. You could need to invest significant funds into changing the ceiling and maybe walls too, with no guarantee it would work. So I would try smaller steps like mentioned above before even thinking about splashing out on acoustic soundproofing.
Hope that helps!
We have the unfortunate luck to have moved next door to a housebound guy that watches TV 24 hours a day. He has a sound system on his TV so we hear the bass at night. He even opens his window when it’s 20 degrees out so we’re convinced he’s not all there. We ended up making sure our bedroom window opposite his by about 25′ diagonally was all sealed up and even made a soundproof board to fit in the window perfectly. It’s made of 1/4″ plywood and soundproof panels on both sides of it. Yet we still hear the boom boom bass at night. Any options for this situation?
Sorry to hear you’re struggling with this noise issue. It’s a difficult one, I know! I think you’re either going to have to try something like earplugs, headphones, white noise at your end. Or maybe adding furniture by the wall where the sound is coming through to soak up more of the sound energy. But really, your best bet might be to try to talk to him politely and see if you can work together to find a volume level that’s acceptable to you and he can still enjoy whatever he likes to listen to.
Hi Ethan, Thank you for your informative article. Over the many years I’ve worked out that I’m particularly sensitive to low frequency noise. Basically anywhere near roads/traffic or overhead aircraft seems to diminish my sleep quality significantly, yet higher frequencies (creaky old houses, birds in the morning) cause no issues. Have tried double glazed glass windows, white noise machines, and even noise masking air plugs – but they don’t really help that much. Any tips on dealing with lower frequencies?
Which white noise machines have you tried? Did they have good pink or brown noise? Perhaps that might help. If you have a decent speaker or set of headphones, you could just download an app and experiment with different noise colours to see if anything helps.
Lol so I moved here sometime in 2013 I wanna say, and everything was peaceful and quiet. Then, one of my neighbors passed on from old age and everything was still peaceful and quiet for a good few years until this year. The person who lives 2 houses away on the next street never knew how to quiet their dog at all, never knew that their music was literally blasting through the street keeping everyone awake, and now I have to deal with them constantly revving random vehicle engines all day and they’re enough of a jerk to even do it through the night. It’s super annoying to constantly hear it through whatever I’m doing and I keep thinking about going to tell them to stop revving it so much but people keep telling me that I shouldn’t because “it’s a normal noise”. I feel like if you’re trying to fix something and genuinely fix it, you shouldn’t have to keep revving an engine and every other vehicle engine you have. Even with a car you don’t even do that, like I feel like you either know what you’re doing or you don’t and you annoy everyone else around you who’s just trying to live peacefully and quietly. As you can tell this person is really getting on my nerves and I don’t know what to do at this point so if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!
I moved into an apartment 6 1/2 years ago. The first 3 years were loud during the day but quiet at night and early morning hours. After the first 3 years, a new tenant moved in below me and walks on her heels. There is wood floors in her apartment. This wouldn’t be an issue if she got up at the same time every day but she changes from 4:30 AM to 5:30 AM every day. I work late and so I sleep later. Unfortunately, it takes me around 45 min to an hour to get back to sleep and then I over sleep and am groggy. If she just got up and walked out of the bedroom, then I could have done back to sleep but she paced back and forth quickly so not only did the noise become an issue but she actually was shaking my bed. I moved my bed to another wall which did help but I am still woken up by her each morning through the sound and vibration. 1 thing that did helped after my incessant pleading with her to be mindful of how loud she walks in the morning was to wait until I was sure she had gone to bed and had been sleeping and then I started stomping back and forth numerous times. It got quieter after that. She still forgets when she gets out of bed first thing but no longer does she pace back and forth on her heels. I hated fighting back in this way and tried desperately to speak with her about it and was ignored. It took me showing her how loud she was for it to almost cease. Yes, I still get woken up but it’s easier to go back to sleep now as I no longer hear incessant the back and forth and for the most part, only the vibration and sound when she first gets up and falls out of bed.
It sounds like you made some progress at least. I can empathise with you as I’ve lived below people who walk around with clunky shoes on as well, and it’s infuriating. I think it’s common sense to not walk around with heavy shoes if you know you have neighbours below. But not everyone thinks about this, knows others can hear it and are bothered by it, remembers not to do it, or even cares at the end of the day. Only hearing the sound once is a big difference from repetitive noise, and hopefully something you can eventually learn to sleep through, or fall back to sleep again quickly when awoken.
My neighbor across the street from me never ceases to go out at night and slam the door of his truck, like he’s testing his arm muscle limits. I am prone to insomnia anyway and have been formally diagnosed with it. Here’s what I have done to get better sleep, but NOTHING keeps me from waking up upon hearing a vehicle door slam: 4 (count ’em) white noise machines; 2 stereo speakers playing static from an FM station not tuned in; heavy noise-canceling drapes. I keep a regular sleep schedule even on the weekends, but continue to be plagued with insomnia and being a light sleeper. NOTHING works.
Are there other noises that wake you each night too, or is it just that one truck door slam? Maybe write an anonymous note very politely asking him to close it more gently and see if that works?
Our roommate asks us to be quiet and says the house is very loud while they’re working, but does so without shutting the door to their room. It feels like an unreasonable request to ask us to be quiet enough that we can’t be heard when they won’t even do the slightest thing on their end. If they’re being loud we shut the door or put on headphones or whatever. I think we’re pretty reasonable and not super loud people, but how can you even know if we’re being too loud if your door is wide open? It seems like the bare minimum of meeting in the middle on noise.
That does seem like a reasonable request to me too. Is there any reason you can think of that they might not want the door closed? Is it hot where you live and they need the airflow? Do they struggle being in enclosed spaces? It might be worth asking in a friendly way to see if there is something going on there. If not, then I think I’d also be having another conversation with them about simple solutions like closing the door.
I listened to your video for the Avantek rechargeable machine and it sounded ideal for my purposes. Now I can’t seem to buy it. Any ideas please? I am not awfully good with the internet and the looking up bit.
I need something to help me cope with a low noise which I hear particularly when I go to bed. I live on the South Coast and there is a wind farm out to sea. Could I be hearing this, it appears to come from the direction of the turbines? I could go on and on about it, but will leave it at that.
Any help you can give would be gratefully received.
Unfortunately, they discontinued that particular white noise machine. I don’t know why. You could try the older model of the Avantek, which isn’t rechargeable, but still has good sounds. I also recommend the LectroFan Evo. And if you really want one with an internal battery, either the LectroFan Micro 2 or the Dreamegg D3 could be good options.
I too live on the south coast and I sometimes hear that as well – I thought it was my imagination.
Hello, I really hope you can help because I’m at the end of my tether.
I have been experiencing a low constant humming for months – it was like a car running outside, now this week it’s like a plane going over – constantly.
I can distract myself in the day but evenings and nights are evil.
I use silicon molded earplugs and headband speakers and now trying a fan all night!
I hope you can offer some advice as to what this may be (no obvious sources) and how I can block it? Please and Thank you!
Just to add, I am in a rural village in the UK x
Have you considered the possibility that it’s tinnitus? Is it the same sound wherever you are, not changing from room to room or outside your house? I’d mention it to your GP and see what they think.
I’m writing from the UK about a problem that my younger son suffers from.
He lives alone in his own small house and can’t sleep if there’s any noise at all. However, his major problem is the birds that nest in a number of large trees not on his property in the early hours. He’s tried some foam earplugs and a white noise machine, nothing has worked so far. He regularly moves bedroom and he’s desperate. Any advice, please?
NB He’s spoken to his neighbors about cutting down the trees, but they aren’t interested.
Funnily enough, my sister is in the UK and has very loud birdsong right outside the guest bedroom. When I’ve stayed there before, I used earplugs to block them out and it worked fine. I know UK birds well enough to know there are very few that are louder than the ones in her garden. Sure, seagulls, crows etcare harder to block out. But most birds in my experience can be blocked out by good earplugs. So my thoughts is that either he hasn’t found the right earplugs yet, used the right size for him, or hasn’t fit them very well. However, it could be that he has an unlucky combination of leaky windows for noise, good hearing, and a lot of loud birds!
I would suggest experimenting with better earplugs first and watching a video on youtube to fit them properly. It sounds silly, but it can make a big difference. Look into Mack’s, Moldex, Howard Leight – all available in the UK on Amazon. Failing that, does he have the money to look into temporary double glazing? Are the window frames well sealed with caulk? Are there gaps? Blocking those windows better will also make a big difference if done correctly.
I recently bought a single bedroom apartment and I have a noisy neighbour above me. Entire day and night there’s impact noise of him stomping or bouncing a ball. Like incessantly. Tried speaking to him and I don’t think he wants to do much about. I’ve developed a sleep disorder. Like how you’ve mentioned I have a bed in the hall and i keep shifting between my room and hall multiple times whenever the noise doesn’t happen. Can a false ceiling arrest impact noise?
Sorry to hear you’re having this frustrating experience. In theory, it should be able to help. How much is impossible for me to predict. Getting a proper assessment and getting it right is key I think. If you have the funds to get a professional opinion based on your own home, that might be a good first step unless you really trust your own DIY skills.
Your thoughts on point #8, Mind over Noise really hits home for me. I have shift work sleep disorder and struggle to stay a sleep. No problem falling asleep but often wake up for various reasons and then can’t fall back to sleep. When I wake up from from a dream or have to go the bathroom and can’t fall back asleep it’s upsetting but I’ve learned to accept and deal with it.
But when I’m woken up from a deep sleep because of my wife’s snoring I almost instantly become angry and lie there with negative thoughts and emotions about it. I know i definitely have to work on this aspect of trying to adopt a new attitude and to be more forgiving in these instances. As you say, it probably won’t be easy. Thanks for the info and articles.
I’m glad the article was food for thought for you. I think this is one of the trickiest things to do, but can be very helpful. It’s easy enough to buy a product like earplugs, stick them in and let them do their work. But if you have to do some mental work, it’s not quite so simple! But I do think it’s worth trying. Even just knowing that it’s a possibility can make a small difference in my opinion. The thought “I should try to be calm and not overreact” is likely to be more relaxing at night than “just shut up!!!” on repeat. Whether you achieve that calmness is a different matter. But at least it gives an alternative pathway than just stewing in frustration. And hopefully, over time you can take more steps down that more positive path.
Any advice for blocking out the noise of heavy slamming doors? I live next door to a house fitted with fire doors and the neighbours just let them slam. The whole shared wall vibrates, so we don’t even know where it’s coming from. Because it’s otherwise quiet at night I wake up with a start if I don’t mask the noise. Fans don’t block it out and earplugs (which I don’t care for anyway) don’t either. The only thing that does is headphones and white noise, but at a volume that’s making me fear for my hearing.
Are there superior earplugs I should be trying? Some sort of combination of earplugs and lower volume white noise?
Am really desperate. Talking to the neighbours and their landlord has got me nowhere.
Oh, slamming doors. I hate those! And they are so tricky to block out – as you say, the solution can end up being just as bad as the problem. It depends which earplugs you’ve tried. I actually just finished filming a video about earplugs I plan to publish on my Youtube channel in a few weeks. I’m a bit slow with editing though, so it might take a while!
In it, I talk about the importance of finding appropriately sized earplugs with a good noise reduction rating. As a rule of thumb, women tend to have small ear canals, so I would look into smaller earplugs if you haven’t already, like howard leight small, mack’s dreamgirl, or mack’s ultrasoft. But if you think you have larger ear canals, maybe try ear buddy, hearoes, any moldex type or howard leight. Just avoid generic own brand drugstore/pharmacy earplugs as they tend to be useless in my experience.
But for the doors, I’d be wondering if you can find a way to communicate with the neighbours about adjusting the swing speed of the door closers. It’s a simple fix really – as long as the doors aren’t broken or don’t have proper closers
I too have issues with door slamming and closing loud. I live with my sister her husband and kids and they all slam doors, especially the kids staying up until 4 in the morning making all kind of noise. Trying to tell them to be considerate and stop slamming doors does not work. I cant insulate my room as it is not my place to do that. By the morning I get so tired I end up drowsy and end up wanting to sleep. I have polio and not sleeping ends up with having petit mals and all. No earplugs works for me as they don’t block loud noises. What can I do?
Could you ask your sister and husband to put in some draft excluder strips to help soften the door slams? Unfortunately, the sound of slamming doors is notoriously hard to block out, even with earplugs. So really, it’s a case of communicating how much it affects you, and maybe finding ways to keep those doors either open with door stops if they don’t need to be open and closed constantly, or a way to soften the blow when they do shut.
Maybe a door swing speed adjustor will ease the trouble the person is experiencing from the neighbours.
Hi, i’ve been having huge issues with 5 x students since they arrived August 2020 – they have driven us mad with weed, loud music etc but their noise at night is the worst of it. At first it was them playing drunken games and stomping up and down stairs which would literally rattle our house. We had to go to the council in the end, which was horrible, but it improved and we’ve had hardly any issues since then, until recently. Now it’s the nightly noise again (I’m talking from midnight until about 5am) but this time it’s not drunken games, I actually don’t think it’s deliberate noise. It’s a thump here, a stomp there, a slamming door here, a clatter there – but it’s CONSTANT and there’s 5 of them so it just goes on and on and on. They have guests too which adds to the sound. Last week I spent a lot of it pretty tearful because I just don’t know how to deal with it. We’ve spoken to them so many times, spoken to the landlord who’s been no help whatsoever, spoken to the council that one time – it feels like a lost cause. My partner says the same thing as you, Ethan, to try and accept it’s noise I can’t control, but it just drives me MAD that they refuse to edit their volume levels accordingly, once we enter antisocial hours? My sense of injustice is so strong. I have to get up and work every day and they just don’t care. I am completely miserable and can’t think about anything else. We’re trying to soundproof our rooms as best we can but life’s just so difficult already.
Sorry to hear you’re struggling with the students. I can remember being a student many moons ago and having a neigbour complain about the noise we made. I remember thinking it wasn’t even that bad – we were literally just doing normal things. The problem really was the construction of the house and someone had converted it into two flats as cheaply as possible. So even just walking from the bedroom to the kitchen bothered our neigbours. We tried to be quieter every time they mentioned it, but soon forgot simply because we didn’t feel like tip-toeing around our own house and never laughing or closing doors etc. And when we were 19 years old, we wouldn’t have thought to adjust a door that naturally slammed. If it slammed, it slammed, and it wasn’t our problem. I don’t believe we were bad people or bad students or different from many other people of that age. We just didn’t have experience of not being us and having to live next to us! Now I do have that experience, I’m sure I wouldn’t want to live underneath the 19 year old version of me either…
This is the kind of point I mean when I talk about accepting it. Even if it drives you mad, I think taking away some sense of being vicitimised can help some people who attach a kind of hidden warfare to the fact that it’s just people of that age being normal (for them). That includes music – it’s just not in every young person’s nature to listen to music quietly, just in case it annoys the neighbours!
What to do? Hopefully your soundproofing will help. Can you move your bed and/or mattress? Are there are drastic steps left you haven’t tried?
I’m going to try something. Earplugs, plus one of those night time sleeping headband style headphones. Wearing both at the same time. Headphones help for sure, but are too uncomfortable to sleep with. So I’m going to try the headband style.
Hope to god it works.
Let me know how it goes and which combination of earplugs and headband you try. I am also planning to experiment more with this kind of doubling up in a future video, so I’d love to know your thoughts on how well it works.
Thanks the head phones working for now 👍
That’s good to hear!
I am so pleased I found this article. Reading everyone’s comments I realize mine are so minimal.
We have lived in our house for 35 years and lived next door to a little old lady who made no noise at all. Sadly we have new neighbors now who are lovely people but I have found it hard to accept the change. I feel they are inconsiderate where noise is concerned. The main problem being their bathroom is next to our bedroom and they get up at 3.00am for work. I get up at 6:00, so unless I can get back to sleep quickly it’s going to be a long day.
My wife hears nothing and isn’t bothered. We have always used earbuds due to snoring. My wife gets up in the middle of the night and I won’t even know. I sleep through thunderstorms with ease!!
However the slightest noise from next door and I am awake. Their house reservations have included heavy hardwood internal doors and laminate flooring which are bad chooses for sound transfer.
I have spoken with them calmly and not in a complaining way. In a polite manner asking for their help. This worked 100% and the response was excellent!! However, many months later I have started waking again at 3:00 and I don’t know why. It has to be due to a noise. Have they relaxed their efforts, I now think they are inconsiderate again. I find myself waiting to hear a noise. I can even predict their routines and have started fighting back with noises of my own (not good).
As my family will confirm I am not a tolerant of others in many ways.
It has been good to read other comments and know I am not alone.
As I live in a bungalow, my neighbour has 3 kids and 2 of them have autism. My room is next to a 12 year old and he constantly kicks and bangs against the wall. I sometime hear the mother shouting. I can’t sleep because of them. I go to bed at a decent time, but they don’t stop until at least 11pm-12pm. The 12 year old sometimes bangs and kicks around that time and I have to be up early for work so I hardly get enough sleep. He wakes me up, but I’m kind because of his condition. It’s just hard.
Thanks for your comment. I can appreciate how hard that must be. It’s also decent of you to be understanding despite the toll it must have on your sleep. But I do think that learning to tolerate a noise you can’t control helps because letting yourself get stressed and angry about it can just make it worse. It’s very hard to sleep when your head is full of angry thoughts.
So in your case, I’d be thinking about what you can do to block the noise (as you already are otherwise you wouldn’t be on this page!). Can you move your bed to another room? Even if it means something unusual like putting the bed in the living room on nights you really need to sleep well? I personally have no issue with throwing a mattress down anywhere in my house as long as I can sleep (maybe not the bathroom…). When it comes to sleep, I don’t care if my house looks weird temporarily as long as I wake up feeling refreshed.
But even if you move the bed to the other side of the room, you could potentially start to line and pad the shared wall with a bookcase, wardrobed, hangings – anything to dampen the noise. Then get yourself some really good earplugs to help dampen it more.
I have the same issue, a new tenant and her 3 children have moved in next door to me. The youngest child is nonverbal so from 3 pm after school until 11 pm I have constant high-pitched screaming, wooden floorboards being banged and things thrown against the wall. I have to use headphones to watch my TV as some of the bangs make me jump out of my skin. The 2 teenagers sleep until 3pm then they are awake all night so I have stomping footsteps, doors being slammed, furniture being dragged across wooden floorboards. I did speak to the mother who was apologetic and said her teenagers are up all night and she asks them to be quiet as she has a little one. Unfortunately, there has been no improvement. I have now moved my mattress onto the floor in the side bedroom, I have pinned thick blankets all around the parting wall upstairs, have wardrobes against the walls and use earplugs. This does help a bit but the vibrations and noise on the floorboards of the bangs and door slamming still wake me up every night / morning between 2am and 5am. I am at my wit’s end, it is really affecting me now due to lack of sleep and I am constantly on edge waiting to jump out of my skin with the banging. So much so I am thinking of moving, which is sad as I really love my house.
Sorry to hear you’re in this difficult situation. Can you move the bedframe as well, and try putting some neopreme, or other material under the legs to perhaps help a little with the vibrations?
Thanks for these useful tips!
You’re welcome Ash.
Small noise affect my sleep. Even I can’t tolerate switch sound. My mom always abuses me for sleep. I can’t sleep peacefully because my family members wantedly make tv sounds or speak loudly when I’m sleeping.
I’d get a good set of earplugs, which should cut out most of those sounds!
this sums up my life
Or when they wanna pee at 3 am
Your advice on mind/body over matter is easier said than done, but I will give it a shot. I still have nine more months in a room with a paper-thin shared wall. Instead of continuing to be miserable by fixating on the noise and engaging in passive-aggressive, mean-spirited retaliation, I’ll choose to focus on doing things that make me happy (with earplugs if need be), work on my sleep hygiene, and see this time as training ground for mindfulness and resilience. If I can learn to overcome my thoughts and be at peace with where I am now, I’ll be able to be happy anywhere else. Thanks so much for your inspiring words.
You’re welcome! I know it’s not easy, I still sometimes struggle to remain calm when there’s unusually loud noise keeping me awake! I think the main thing is to keep trying the strategies to cope, even if they don’t always work. Hopefully, in time the noise will slowly become less of an intrusion emotionally as well as audibly.
But yes, earplugs are usually the way to go in my experience!
I hope that nine months isn’t too stressful.
I have a neighbor whose driveway is next to my bedrooms. He backs his large truck between the houses next to my bedroom windows. He leaves every morning 5am or soon after. He starts his truck with the exhaust pointing at my bedroom windows/exterior wall. I have already filled the wall with blown in insulation, and the windows are older double pane. I measured the decibels inside my bedroom window and the lowest level was 89db…inside my house. The bass noise is the worst and it vibrates through the house. The bedrooms are so small I cannot add a 2nd interior wall. I have put furniture on that wall and have filled the closet on that wall with stuff (mass.) I tried ear plugs and it didn’t help… same bass noise and vibration blast.
I have developed a health issue (I fall a lot) because I am completely exhausted by early afternoon. I haven’t broken bones yet, but it is likely.
The truck owner is well aware of the problem he has created for me and the previous owners/renters of this house. (He told me the first day I lived there that he would be waking me every morning.)
How can I bring down the noise? I am desperate and don’t really have the money to sue them or put up an expensive brick wall. (I only have about 3 feet of space outside that wall.)
Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear this is an issue for you. I can completely understand because I get woken up most mornings by garbage trucks making a huge bang every time they tip up the giant metal communal bins.
And even though because of what I do with this website I have in my house right now 20+ different types of earplugs, 12 white noise machines and 10+ headphones, I still can’t block out that one noise!
There are some noises which are just too extreme and nothing will block them out – at least nothing the average person can do without going to extreme measures with DIY etc.
So, my advice – and forgive me if you don’t like it – is to do what I do: accept that it’s short-lasting and try to change the mindset to stress less about it.
I know it’s really annoying being woken up every morning by someone being loud. But at least – in both yours and my case, it doesn’t go on all morning. So you can, in theory, go back to sleep when he leaves.
Now, I know there’s an element of “I shouldn’t have to put up with it” or maybe “I can’t fall asleep again”. I’ve been there too…so I know.
But I also know that stressing about it can make it even worse. So I’ve learned to accept that I will lose a couple of battles in the goal to create silence in my home. But as long as I win the war, or at least limit the damage in the battles I lose, I can retain my sanity and my ability to remain calm.
More recently, we got a COVID puppy (as they call them apparently). So now I have garbage trucks at 6am and puppy crying before and after then. But the same principle applies: yes, it annoys me and wakes me up. But if I stress about it, that stress will keep me awake even longer. So I try to accept those noises as being beyond my control, and that acceptance lets me fall asleep again once the noise stops.
Sorry for going on a long monologue with not very practical advice. If I had real practical advice beyond what I already wrote in the article, I would have offered it.But for now, this is all I’ve got. Give me the benefit of the doubt, and give it a try. Take a couple of deep breaths tomorrow morning when it happens, tell yourself it’s ok, try to relax, and once he’s gone, put it out of your mind, focus on how warm and cozy your bed is instead to take your attention off any negative thoughts and feelings, and try to go back to sleep.
All the best
Hi, thank you for the article. I once heard in a hypnosis session the phrase “every noise makes me go deeper and deeper”. Lately I was thinking of finding a hypnosis tape that instructs your subconscious mind to go deeper into sleep with every unwanted noise you hear. I’ll let you know when I find it. Whatever works, right?
You’re welcome. That’s a really interesting idea!! I’d love to know more about it if you find it.
I’m 68 and live alone in a ground floor flat in a block of 6. My neighbour upstairs above me gets up at 4 30 to leave at 7 15 to catch a bus. She showers does washing always running water enough to fill a swimming pool drops stuff on the floor etc for nearly 3yrs I’ve been woken up and not been able to sleep. So i get up and its a very long tiring day.I sometimes can’t stay awake come afternoon im shattered. I phoned her politely and told her i could hear her washing machine she said i had a problem not her. She has friends from her country phone her at our time 6ish but there its much later. The best sleep ive had in nearly 3 yrs was when i had 2 operations. Sad but true. Shes kept me awake on her days off as she then does housework late at night. The nights she works she’s in bed by 9 and up as early as 4 30 yet doesn’t leave the building till gone 7.What do i do i have a phobia of having anything in my ears due to my mother ridiculing me cause my ears were not clean and i hated her fat finger plunging down my ear. All my adult life I’ve had this fear of anything going in my ears so earplugs are not for me. I guess there’s nothing i can do like Covid i have to live with this problem. I’m in a wardened council property and have reported this but the neighbour has become complacent and in her little world with no care of how it affects someone like me whos retired and have done the early mornings with great respect for my neighbours.
Sorry to hear you’re having this issue with the neighbour – I know how stressful it can be.
Is it just a fear of things going inside your ears, or does over the top of them also cause you anxiety? For example, normal headphones or headbands?
I am the loud one in my apartment building because I have insomnia. My upstairs, underneath, and side by side neighbors all can hear me. I try to be as quiet as possible at 3am but my couch is really squeaky and the wood floors are loud whenever I walk on them or simply switch positions on my couch. I’ve tried to just watch tv and be still as possible but my bed is almost just as squeaky as my couch and they can hear my tv when it’s at a very low volume. I don’t want to just sit there in a dark room while my insomnia is in full on effect. I don’t have the funds to replace my couch or bed otherwise I would take this route and I can’t move to a different location because my lease doesn’t end for another 5 months. I have a new white noise machine but that doesn’t seem to help at all because I can hear my neighbors talk about how loud I am through the wall but they are too shy or nice to come say anything to me. Any suggestions on what I can do before I end up either getting the cops called on me or end up with my neighbors absolutely hating me. At this point I’m uncomfortable moving around or making any subtle noise in my apartment and that doesn’t feel like a healthy way to live and is making my insomnia and anxiety worse.
First of all, it’s a positive thing that you care enough about your neighbours to be worried about this. Not everyone would think this way! However, it’s obviously affecting your quality of life too, not just theirs.
I imagine the ultimate goal would be to tackle your insomnia so you be asleep at 3am, not watching TV. What have you tried to improve your insomnia? Do you know what it is that causes it, if there is something more specific?
As for practical steps, could you get a Bluetooth adaptor and headphones for your TV? That could solve that particular problem. Headphones could also help stop you hearing your neighbours too. Perhaps you could try putting a couple of layers of carpet patches under the feet of the couch and bed. That might help a tiny bit too.
Thank you for the article. Do you have any tips about ear plugs or similar that reduce noise from noisy, upstairs neighbors who like to watch TV in the middle of the night? My parents who live in an apartment building have very inconsiderate upstairs neighbors who like to do just that. Reasoning and pleading with them has not helped and my parents have exhausted all other options, including getting building management involved and even calling the police a few times. (My parents are not the only ones complaining, but they are the ones immediately below so get to hear the bulk of the noise). They cannot soundproof their apartment or build a room within a room unfortunately. They already have heavy curtains and I’ll mention the neoprene trick to them, but I doubt that it would have a significant effect.
Their bedroom is directly below the TV room of the upstairs neighbors and it would be extremely inconvenient to move it (they would basically have to move their bedroom into the living room and they do not want to do that). Moving to another place is also not an option as this has been their home for over 20 years.
Do you have any advice/articles on ear plugs, specifically ones that can reduce TV noise or voices from upstairs/next door neighbors? I understand that it is not possible to completely get rid of the noise, but I am really hoping that reducing it would allow my parents to get some rest.
Thanks for your comment. I’m actually working on a large earplug review update at the moment, and hope to do a video some time before the end of the year.
As it goes, one of the main reasons I wanted to do a video was to talk about the fact that I believe earplugs are very much a personal thing, as it really depends on your ear canal size and the way you fit them almost as much as the quality of the earplugs themselves.
So really, the best thing is to try different packs, and unless a store sells a good brand, to avoid generic store brands and buy them online. Most of the worst earplugs Ive tried over the years were bought in supermarkets, pharmacies or airports. All of the best ones, I bought online – though I have also found some of them in stores in the US, such as Hearoes and Macks.
Personally, I much prefer foam to wax, silicone and any type of plastic ones. They just work better. But…not everyone finds them comfortable. And some people are more concerned by the health risks that come with wearing earplugs all the time. Personally, I choose to have less noise over the risk of ear infections and have only had one in 20 years of using earplugs (that I’m aware of).
So, within the foam earplug world, there are lots of good ones, and the right one for you (or them) will depend on the size and fit. I personally really like mack’s ultraSoft, any style of moldex earplugs, ear buddy, and howard laser leight. But really, any that have a noise reduction rating between 30 and 33 are worth trying at least once in my opinion.
As for other options, there’s not much more I can offer than already in the article I’m afraid. Noisy upstairs neighbors can be a real nightmare, I know. For me, earplugs are the best way forward.
I think I wanted to read an article like this my whole life! Thank you for sharing ❤
You’re very welcome Satya – I’m very happy to hear the article was useful. Let’s hope the tips actually help you!
I guess the best way is to sound proof the room. There are a lot of helpful DIY Tips!
I would like to know your opinion on sleeping in a room for 9 hours with closed windows. Is it unhealthy? CO2? Even if the air is maximally fresh in the moment of closing the windows?
I guess it depends on just how sealed in you become. If there is very limited fresh air from any gaps in the home, then I imagine it’s not ideal. Where I live, winters can be very harsh, so I wouldn’t want to sleep with an open window on the coldest nights. But I know some air comes in around the window frame anyway, so I’m not bothered by keeping the windows closed all night.
One other note I’d say is to make sure you have a carbon monoxide tester in the home if you feel there is no air flow.
Any advice of dealing with loud impact noises in particular, such as kids playing/banging on floor above you? Impact noises seem to be difficult to cover with white noise, etc.