Those who live in a thin-walled apartment or on a busy street have to live with uncomfortable nocturnal noises that disturb their sleep, which, in addition to being extremely irritating, can lead to health problems. Both the noise that comes from the street and that which travels from the noisy neighbors' houses to yours through the narrow walls of the building can, with some effective solutions, be reduced or even eliminated.
Method 1 of 2: Modifying the Room
Step 1. Rearrange the bedroom furniture
Changing the arrangement of furniture can significantly reduce noise pollution. The intention is to place large, thick objects between you and the source of the nuisance sound. For example:
- Place a dense bookcase against the wall you share with your rowdy neighbor. The more full of books the shelves are, the more the sound will be muffled!
- If your bedroom adjoins your neighbor's living room, place the bed as far as possible from the wall that divides the two rooms.
- Move the bed away from the windows to reduce the amount of noise that comes to you from the street.
Step 2. Install acoustic lining
It is a material commonly used in studios and theaters to absorb and dissipate sounds. However, it can also be used to block out nighttime noise in ordinary people's homes. On sale online and in building materials warehouses, the acoustic panels come in countless colors and sizes and, once installed, will look like part of the decor.
- Panels can be installed permanently (if you are a landlord) or temporarily (if you are a tenant). Simply cover the wall where the sound reaches your home, and the panels will absorb and dissipate the noise that disturbs you at night.
- If you can't find the acoustic panels or don't like the way they look, try hanging some thick tapestries on the wall to achieve a similar effect.
- Likewise, it is possible to attach acoustic panels or tapestries to the ceiling to block out sound coming from above.
Step 3. Soundproof your windows
The best way to block out sounds coming from outside the building is to soundproof the windows. Installing double windows in place of the old ones could be an expensive solution, but there are cheaper alternatives that provide similar results:
- Seal any cracks and cracks with acoustic foam - available at any building materials warehouse - which will keep noise out of your room without damaging the window frame.
- Hang thick or soundproof curtains from all bedroom windows, whose thick fabric will create an obstacle to the sound that invades the room at night.
Step 4. Soundproof the floor
In case the noises come from the apartment below, the best option is to cover the floor with an insulating material, in an attempt to increase the thickness of the wall that separates it from the sound source. Those who rent the property can cover the floor with thick rugs, or install new carpets, as long as the landlord approves.
- Homeowners who don't like carpets could install soundproofing under the floor finish. Cork is the best material to place under the floor, but there are other alternatives such as fiberglass. And there are also floor coverings with an insulating effect.
- To eliminate all noise, double the precaution: install soundproofing under the floor and place thick rugs on it.
Step 5. Change your room
In some cases, the noise is amplified because of the room's location within the property. If you sleep in a room that is close to the street or next to the room where the neighbor's child spends the day screaming, sleeping elsewhere may be the solution.
Changing rooms is not always an alternative in properties with a limited number of rooms, but, given the possibility, sleep most nights in the place in the house that is exposed to the lowest noise levels
Method 2 of 2: Living in a Noisy Environment
Step 1. Wear ear protectors
As they suppress or at least partially muffle irritating sounds, ear protectors are a great alternative. They come in numerous models, but the simplest and cheapest can be purchased at the nearest pharmacy.
- Look for ear protectors rated NRR 33, which means a 33 decibel reduction, which should be enough to provide a peaceful sleep.
- Wash your hands before putting on the protectors; replace them frequently or clean them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- The ear protector is most effective when properly fitted to the ear. For best results, roll it into a thin cylinder before fitting it into your ear, holding it as it expands and fills the ear canal.
- Do not force the ear plug too far into the ear. You should be able to remove it easily by twisting and pulling it out. Placing it too deep in the ear canal could cause discomfort and even injury.
Step 2. Cover the noise with white noise
While it may seem counterproductive to mask noise with more noise, the truth is that white noise distracts from annoying sounds. That's why you don't hear the faucet drip during the day, but it's the only thing you hear at night. White noise is all noise endowed with indistinct variety and rhythm, causing the listener to feel that they are not hearing anything. You could buy a white noise generator, download an app to your phone, or use some homemade object. Among the most common white noises are:
- The fan noise;
- Rain noise;
- Waves breaking at sea.
Step 3. Play a distracting sound
If white noise turns out to be ineffective, there are still other types of sound you can use. White noise is just a slice of the spectrum of "sound colors" which comprises other types of sounds. Blue noise is a fancier version of white; includes birdsong and children's laughter. The pink noise is more heated and reverberant: the sound that the shell makes when you blow on the concave part, for example. Some find ambient music and indistinct murmurs comforting, so you could leave the television or radio on while you fall asleep.
- Leaving the television or sound on can interfere with natural sleep cycles, so it is advisable to use a timer that automatically turns off the set at a certain time.
- If you can, dim the TV so that you are not disturbed by the glare.
- Choose background music in advance. Look for music that soothes you during the day, and at night, see if they are a good encouragement to sleep.
Step 4. Invest in high-end sound suppressors
When the noise is so loud that even white noise or ear plugs can't drown it out, investing in sophisticated blockers can be a way to go. There are several such devices for sale on the internet; research the differences between them to find which one best suits your needs. Keep in mind that such devices can be expensive, but a good night's sleep would pay off. These are some of the most common sound suppressors:
- Sophisticated earmuffs that allow discreet sounds to pass through and block out any noise that exceeds a certain decibel level. They're great for those who are tired of spending the night listening to construction noise and car horns, but need to hear their kids calling or their spouse talking at night.
- Noise canceling headphones, which have microphones capable of detecting the rhythm of ambient noises and synthesizing an "anti-noise" that muffles them. They are the best solution for constant, low-frequency sounds like those you would hear on board an airplane, but they are not advisable for noises that cause a sudden spike in decibels.
- Loud noise dampers with speakers, which block out ambient sound, as well as ear plugs, and even have built-in headphones that reproduce white noise or background music. Ideal for those who would like to completely block out annoying noises and find white noise relaxing.
Step 5. Use mindful meditation techniques to reduce your perception of noise
For some people, suppressing the annoying sound is quite simple: just deal with the experience instead of reacting to it with frustration and despair. Similar in principle to meditation techniques that provide relaxation during the day, being aware of noise at night, as well as your reaction to it, allows you to modulate that reaction and get a peaceful night's sleep. The goal is to minimize how much you allow yourself to be irritated by the noise, which can be done in several ways:
- Focusing on your own breathing, breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Give your full attention to the movement of your diaphragm and lungs filling with air, and just listen to your own breathing.
- Focus on relaxing your entire body, one part at a time. Picture your feet first, then your legs, torso, arms, and fingers, then your neck and head.
- Adopt new attitudes towards noise. Forgive whoever or whatever is making the noise and keep in mind that you will get used to it in time.