It’s no secret that the best friends of restful and proper sleep cycle include a cool and relaxed sleep environment and dark and silent ambient. Whether you live in a busy neighborhood in a large city, next to the highway or busy traffic lanes, or simply annoying and loud household members and neighbors, you must know that sleeping in a noisy environment is mission impossible.
Throughout the day we overwork ourselves and have a difficult time relaxing. If we additionally have to deal with noisy surroundings, the next day will start stressed and sleep-deprived. Still, not everything is that bad, some ways can help you sleep through the noise, with a little bit of adjustment.
Why Does Noise Affect Our Sleep?
One question that has always puzzled a lot of people is how come the noise affects our sleep? After millions of years of evolution and sleeping in nature, caves, storms, surrounded by wild beasts, annoying insects like mosquitoes and flies, humanity must’ve developed adapting mechanisms that allow them to fall asleep easier. Still, evolution doesn’t always work the way we want it to work.
The noise manifests through vibrations of different frequencies. Everything humans can hear manifests as hearable frequency, while the lower and higher frequencies are known as the infrasound and ultrasound respectively. Those vibrations, changes in frequency, affect us in different ways, by affecting the emitted brainwaves in our brain, changing our heart rate and reflexes.
Even the low-frequency infrasound can affect us, and while we may not hear it, we may be able to sense it. During the night, our brain is more relaxed and less concentrated on everyday surroundings like work, social life, media, and news family, and other activities. That way, human ears can more easily catch the distinct sounds that we may react to.
Unnerving reaction to high noise isn’t only a human thing, animals also react poorly to noise pollution. A study has shown that animals react differently to noise pollution, it affects their nocturnal activities, migration, breeding, and more.
Know More: How Does Noise Affect Sleep?
Effects of Noise
Noise can lead to sleep deprivation which later on can lead to insomnia in the long run. Neither of these disorders is naïve and can have a lot of health implications. The effects of noise on sleep quality come from different stages of sleep. It’s likely that if you’re in the deep sleep stage, the noise is less likely to affect your sleep cycle and have you wake up multiple times.
Nevertheless, just because you slept through the whole night, doesn’t mean that the effects of noise didn’t lead to sleep dissatisfaction. If you’re in the stage of sleep like light sleep or REM sleep where the brain is either not entirely asleep or still active due to dream generation, the noise is more likely to wake you up and prevent you from further falling asleep.
The noise can appear at any time of the night. Perhaps, there’s sudden loud music inside a passing car, or something fell, or some other reason. All in all, the sudden sounds and frequency changes can startle you out of sleep and scare you too much to be able to fall asleep again with ease.
Another interesting thing researchers noticed is that the person is more likely to wake up to noise if their sleep is light. Additionally, if the source of the noise sounds familiar to you or comes with a dose of emotion such as arguing or crying, you’re more likely to wake up.
While people may eventually get used to the noise of traffic or neighbors, the noise that potentially signals danger can also have a negative consequence for sleep and health. For example, a honking horn, sudden car brakes, or a car accident as well as other stressful situations can disrupt your sleep and make it impossible for you to fall asleep with ease again.
If you wake up several times due to such disruptive noise or get too startled to fall asleep with ease, you’ll feel the effects of it the next morning or through the day. We wrote a thorough article on how noise can affect your sleep cycle and health, make sure to give it a look to learn more.
How to Sleep Through Noise?
Now that we briefly highlighted the effects of noise on our sleep, it’s time to see the possible solutions that will help you fall asleep without going to complain to your neighbors or calling the police.
1. Try to Ignore It
It’s not easy as it sounds, but it’s usually the first thing to do once you notice that excess noise affects you. Try to accept that there is noise, but the more you focus and think about it, the more prominent it’ll feel to you. That’s why because our brain will focus on the signals sent from our ear that will make detecting the noise easier.
This may be particularly difficult for people who suffer from tinnitus and hyperacusis as in the night they become more sensitive to prominent noise.
2. Train Your Brain to Overcome the Noise
A study has shown that meditation shows the effects of blocking psychological and low pitch noise. It’ll also help your brain focus on other activities other than just hearing the noise.
While meditation won’t help you too much after you’ve already gone to the bed, it’ll still help you calm the nervous system when going to sleep. It can become a ritual and part of the bedtime routine that is extremely important for a healthy night’s rest.
The other thing you can do is perform deep breathing exercises. Focus on breathing in through the nose, deeply, and then exhaling through your mouth.
The period between inhaling and exhaling should be three seconds, but as you train yourself and as the activity shows progress, you’re free to hold the breath from five to seven seconds.
Having a good sense of imagination could also help you relax and sleep through the noise. A lot of people practice peaceful and relaxing thoughts to have an easier time falling asleep. The same can go when you’re trying to fall asleep during a loud neighborhood party.
Think about walking on the beach, beautiful waves, taking a hike near a mountain resort and spa. There are so many places that can make you feel calm, just imagine them.
Earbuds are the new earplugs, and they can play the tranquil music you need to fall asleep. Additionally, earbuds are good at isolating the external noise so you can fall asleep with ease. They are more comfortable than headphones, not bulky at all, and they won’t fall off or out that easily.
If you use earbuds, keep in mind it’s not a good idea to play music the whole night. Loud music, even though soothing for you, could lead to ear damage and even hearing loss, according to a study. Be mindful of the music you choose and if you play the music from your phone, set the timer for music.
Earplugs are small plugs you put in your ear to block out the noise. While they’re not as effective as earbuds now, they are way more affordable and more available in the market. Even if you’re unable to find the earplugs for sleep, you can use the ones for swimming, although they can be a bit more uncomfortable to wear.
Another important thing to say about earbuds and earplugs is that they’re not the best of solutions if you have to wake up to an alarm clock in the morning, so you should be careful with using them so you won’t oversleep.
5. White Noise Machine
The white noise machine has been ensuring a peaceful and soothing rest ever since the first model came out. The reason they work wonders is that the white noise can block out all the ambient noise due to the neutral frequencies and sound energies.
White noise machines can come with humming and soothing noise but can also include all-natural sounds like thunderstorms, rain, waves, leaves, and more. If you have a toddler or a baby that can’t sleep due to noise, there’s a lullaby mode in the vast majority of the white noise machine models.
We’ve written a compelling buying guide on picking the best white noise machine, as well as ten models that will meet all your demands.
6. Download an App
In the world run by smartphones, there is an app for anything you can think of. With that in mind, there are several apps that you can use to play soothing music, a relaxing podcast, or some other noise that will guide you into the dreamland. Here are some apps worth checking out, some are coming with a paid subscription while some are free of charge.
7. Sleep When You’re Tired
Staying up late is never a good idea. Sleep experts recommend sleeping from 10 pm to 6 am, as it’s the healthiest bedtime routine. While most people fluctuate from this routine, it’s important not to step far away from it and sleep at a late hour.
A better idea is to exhaust yourself through the day, so you’ll be too tired to stay up to the noise. Try to exercise throughout the day, but not when it’s late because that may lead to insomnia.
8. Improve Your Home
If you suffer from frequent noise like hearing the leaking faucet, neighbors, traffic, and other sources, it’s time to improve the overall insulation at your home. If you feel like your walls are thin, it’s time to add insulation.
You should also consider changing windows if you live in an old apartment or add window sealant. A good investment would also be using thick and heavy curtains which can block out the noise and light. Lastly, you can also use a thicker floor rug or even get better carpeting.
9. Move furniture
For some people, changing the arrangement of furniture at home changed the way noise is distributed inside their apartment.
For example, keep your bed away from the windows if the traffic light is what causes the noise.
Rearrange your drawers, shelves, and wardrobes towards the walls where the noise is the most prominent.
If you have loud neighbors, moving the bed to the opposite side from your neighbor sounds like a smart idea to avoid too much noise.
10. Lastly, talk to the neighbors
In many countries, apartment complexes are set by a few rules so that people can enjoy their stay peacefully, without needing to argue with neighbors when they disrespect the curfew or other noise-related issues. If none of the other options work, it’d be a wise idea to pay a visit to your neighbors and talk about the things that bother them.
Ask them not to play music too loud after a certain time passes, or not to start a washing machine in the middle of the night. Explain to them your reasons for being upset, especially if you suffer from insomnia, tinnitus, or another sleep disorder. A constructive and sensible conversation will surely be fruitful for both sides. You can also advise them on how to do certain things so that they don’t disrupt other neighbors with noise.
Tips for Traveling
If you don’t live in a noisy apartment complex, but you took a trip to a really noisy place, here are some tips that will help you enjoy the stay without being stressed or sleep-deprived.
Sleeping through noise sure does seem difficult, but it isn’t impossible. We hope that our tips helped you squeeze an extra hour of sleep and fall asleep easier. What are your tips to sleep through the noise? Please, let us know.