Besides light, noise is one of the biggest causes of sleep disturbance. Whether your neighbors like to test their vocal cords at 3am or late-night traffic stops you getting the early night you need, sometimes just pulling the covers over your head won’t cut it.
We’ve been there and got the sleep shirt!
In this guide, we’ve compiled 10 different ways you can block out noise to sleep better, from the best earplugs to some innovative ways to soundproof your bedroom. Try these noise-blocking methods and hopefully you’ll be back to catching zzzs in no time.
Why Noise Bothers Us So Much
Our brains continue to process noise when we’re asleep because that keeps us alive! Sure, we don’t need to keep an ear out for predators attacking us in the night anymore but waking up for loud or annoying noises is still greatly beneficial. From hearing the fire alarm go off, to your newborn baby crying.
That’s why we need to be careful about blocking out all noise at night. Blocking out the annoying, noisy plumbing is beneficial… but sleeping through the fire or burglar alarm is not. Environmental and background noises are the ones that we need to block out, especially if you’re extra sensitive to noise. Some people are more sensitive than others!
According the WHO “While noise-induced sleep disturbance is viewed as a health problem in itself (environmental insomnia), it also leads to further consequences for health and wellbeing.” There’s even limited evidence that disturbed sleep can lead to depression and cardiovascular illness.
So, if your brain simply won’t get used to the traffic noise and let you sleep through it, or the neighborhood dogs like to keep things unpredictable with their nighttime howling, blocking noise is essential. Not only will it help you sleep better, but it will be better for your health overall.
5 Ways to Soundproof Your Room
We’re starting with five ways to soundproof your room, or even your home. The environment we sleep in is especially important – comfort, room temperature and airflow can impact your sleep quality too. That’s why people spend hundreds of dollars on tailored mattresses!
Furthermore, if you struggle to get comfortable with earplugs and headphones, these noise-blocking methods will be preferable.
1. Move Your Bed
If you don’t have the luxury of moving your bed to another, quieter room in your home, then try rearranging your furniture first.
If the noisy traffic leaks in through the window, move your bed to the other side of the room. You can also try putting large furniture objects against one wall. A large bookcase or free-standing wardrobe full of heavy coats will block out loud neighbors on the other side.
2. Reinforce Your Window
Your window is the weak point in the walls of your room, so one way to stop noise coming in is to reinforce the window. Use a sealant around the edges of the window frame to block any small gaps where noise could be coming – just be careful not to glue the window shut! You can also roll up blankets, towels or insulation and place it around the window frame to temporarily block it too.
If you want to go to extremes, you can replace your windows entirely with double glazed windows, laminated glass, and thicker glass panes.
Finally, buy very thick and heavy curtains to draw across your window at night to dampen the noise further.
3. Soundproof Your Floor, Ceiling and Walls
Acoustic tiles are a great way to add an extra layer of sound absorption to your walls and ceiling. This foam pad tiles will muffle and absorb noises that come through the walls and ceiling at night. If you own the property, you can place the tiles on your walls and wallpaper over them. If you’re renting, you’ll need to semi-permanently place the tiles so they can be removed later if needed. But that’s not a problem. These tiles are available in a huge range of colors to fit your décor. There are loads of acoustic tiles available on Amazon!
4. Get Clever with Furnishings
Depending on where the noise is coming from, you can use clever furnishings to block that noise from reaching your brain. One simple thing to do is take those thick, noise-blocking curtains and put them around your bed rather than just over the window.
Picture a gorgeous four poster bed that would like right at home on the set of Bridgerton. Could you work that into your décor? Could you cover one wall with fabric, to block out external noise and boost internal acoustics?
If the noise is coming from the apartment below, try a bed that’s higher off the floor or lay a thick rug underneath it, to stop sound vibrations travelling upwards, for example.
5. Insulate Better
It may feel hot in the summer but insulating your room more will help to block the noise. It’s the same concept as the other four methods in this section.
Try a thick rug that you can place on the floor, and thick materials that you can drape over the walls. You don’t need to use old tapestries and granny’s quilts either. Fabric wall coverings can be quite modern.
To achieve something like this, you need to wrap panels or foam pads or even acoustic tiles in matching fabric to place on the walls.
5 Ways to Block Out the Sound
If switching up your home décor isn’t possible, then you’ll need to block the sound closer to the source – AKA, block your ears in some way. The key here is to find something that can block the background, environment noise that’s keeping you awake. At the same time, it needs to be light enough that alarms and important loud sounds can still wake you in an emergency. It’s a fine balance.
Look for the NRR rate of the earplugs – this will tell you how many decibels they can reduce in sound. You might not need super expensive and effective earplugs if the noise is quite quiet. In the dead of night, all the small sounds seem much louder.
If you do choose earplugs, remember to clean them regularly and don’t push them too far you’re your ears.
Our recommendation: we really like Mack’s ultra soft foam earplugs, as they have a 33 NRR rate and come in boxes of 50 pairs, so you’ll definitely have spares!
2. Sleep Headphones
If earplugs are too uncomfortable for you, sleep headphones are a good alternative. Noise-cancelling headphones are great if you want to sleep in total silence. If you need some noise to help you sleep (just not the sound of your neighbor’s bed squeaking) then headphones solve this too.
Free songs and playlists on YouTube designed to help you sleep, from celebrities reading sleep stories to lo-fi beats and nature soundtracks, can be played through the headphones too.
This is a brilliant option if you want to block out the noise during the day too, for study or work.
Our recommendation: the Winonly Bluetooth headband is designed for sleep and sports. It plays music, guided meditation or any other sound without feeling uncomfortable over night.
3. White Noise Machine
A white noise machine creates a static sound or random frequencies that block out external noises. Buying a white noise machine isn’t cheap, but it is quite effective. Our brains naturally get used to consistent sounds and block them out, so as your brain blocks out the hum of the white noise machine, those noisy neighbors are blocked out too.
You can also find white noise machines that create nature sounds to naturally block noises. Like waves crashing onto the beach or leaves whispering in the wind.
Our recommendation: the Magicteam white noise machine offers 20 different types of noise, as well as timers to auto shut off. It’s worth checking out!
4. Keep a Fan on
Like a white noise machine, having a fan on or air conditioning machine make a gentle hum can help you block out those external noises. You can even switch it up and use a space heater in the winter, so you keep warm at the same time!
You’re also more likely to feel comfortable using a fan or other subliminally noisy machine that you’re used to, in our experience. The gentle churning of the washing machine or the electric fan you’ve used every summer for decades is a good way to calm down and drift off to sleep.
5. Meditate Through It
Don’t turn your nose up at this one.
We know you’re angry at those irritating noises keeping you up all night, but with a little patience and focus you can get through them. In fact, many consistent noises at night will eventually fade into the background anyway. People who have lived by a train station or noisy highway for years barely notice the noise as they fall asleep.
In the meantime, try changing your frame of mind. Let go of your anger, forgive the noise for keeping you awake, and try to accept it rather than block it out.
You’re probably feeling skeptical of this one, but it’s worth a try, right?
Your Last Hail Mary Attempt…
Have you tried to stop the noise yourself? You can’t exactly stop vehicles driving past at night, but you can ask your neighbors to keep the noise down. You can even call the cops if the noise disturbance is extreme or sounds violent.
The laws regarding noise disruption vary from state to state.
In California, for example: “it is illegal for any resident to knowingly create loud and unreasonable noises as a means of disturbing another. Those convicted of violating this law face a maximum of 90 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $400.00.” According to Stimmel Law.
Even if the loud noises aren’t breaking any laws, you can always ask the landlord to get involved.
Yes, you’ll probably be the least liked person on your block… but you will be well-rested!