How to Block Out Noise While Sleeping

Sleeping.com Editorial Team

Woman trying to sleep with noise

Whether you live on a busy city block, you are the parent of rude teenagers, or you have loud neighbors with barking dogs, you’re here because you have trouble sleeping due to noise. 

Unfortunately, much of the noise in our lives is out of our hands; we can’t control it, but it can sure control our quality of sleep. 

Since you can’t always turn off the sounds around you, sometimes the best way to fight back is to learn how to block out noise while sleeping. With today’s technology and a few helpful tips and tricks, we can get you back into a healthy sleep routine in no time.

Does Noise Hinder Sleep?

Studies show that environmental noises, including things like transportation means, can cause significant sleep disturbances. These sleep disturbances interrupt a normal sleep cycle, which is made up of several different stages: 

  • Light sleep (Stages 1 and 2)
  • Deep sleep
  • Rapid Eye Movement

Not only can noises interrupt these stages and fragment your sleep cycle, but they may also cause your body to produce extra hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. The result can be an elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure. 

In layman’s terms, we’ve all been there. When you’re dead asleep at night and there’s a loud bang, someone blares the television, or there’s a knock on the door, it wakes you up and halts your sleep cycle right in the middle of it. 

Noise can even play a role in preventing sleep altogether. You may find it difficult to even fall asleep at all when there are loud noises around. In fact, some people can’t even fall asleep with more subtle noises, such as a dripping faucet or a squeaky ceiling fan. 

Why Is Good, Quality Sleep Important?

In the short term, these sleep interruptions can negatively impact everyday function and performance. It can lead to irritability, poor mental health, and general sleepiness, all of which can make it difficult to go about your normal routine. 

Long-term interactions involving noise and sleep can lead to several more serious conditions, including high blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. 

And just as there are downsides to sleep interruptions, so there are benefits to high-quality sleep. For instance, those who get good sleep tend to have a better memory. Good sleep can also help with inflammation, focus, and stress, setting your body and mind up for success in the following day’s busy schedule. 

How to Block Out Noise While Sleeping

So, obviously, noise can cause some serious issues for sleeping habits. But what can you do to block out unwanted sounds? Check out some of these helpful tips. 

  1. Use Earplugs

One of the best, easiest, and most cost-effective ways to block sound while sleeping is to use earplugs. Look for earplugs rated at NRR 33. 

NRR stands for Noise Reduction Rating. The number describes how many decibels the earplugs will be effective against. NRR 33 should be a good level to drown out most nighttime noises. 

Wearing earplugs to bed at night can be helpful to deal with a wide range of noises, including within your home and outside. 

Related Reading: Pink Noise vs. White Noise. vs. Brown Noise for Sleep

  1. Turn on a Noise Machine

Some of you may want to know how to block out noise without earplugs. After all, they can be uncomfortable to wear. A great alternative is to invest in a noise machine. 

The most common type is a white noise machine. White noise is something that contains all frequencies of audible sound. The result is a sound similar to the static you might hear on the radio. 

This sound is highly effective at drowning out other noises. At the same time, its indistinct sound isn’t intrusive or draws your focus on it, so it just plays in the background. Many people find it quite soothing, and it’s beneficial for sleeping in noisy places. 

  1. Play Calming Music or Sounds

Not everyone will benefit from white noise, or even like it. You can try a wide range of other sounds to help drown out distracting noises and keep you calm at bedtime. 

Check out different relaxing playlists to test if music works for you. Many people find ambient noises such as rain, thunder, wind, rushing rivers, and waterfalls to help them relax and fall asleep. 

You can even fall asleep with the television on, but make sure you set a timer and dim the brightness so it’s very low. 

  1. Add More Soft Surfaces 

The more exposed, hard surfaces you have in the room where you sleep, the more noises can echo and reverberate. By doing something as simple as adding soft surfaces to your room, you can help minimize noise.

For example, put area rugs on a hardwood floor and hang thick curtains over your windows. You can also place an additional piece of soft furniture in your room and cover hard seats with cushions. 

If you live with noisy neighbors beneath you, add a layer of insulation between the floor and your area rug. 

  1. Soundproof the Windows

It’s easier to control noises that come from inside of your home, but it can be impossible to eliminate outside elements like cars, trains, planes, and animals. One thing you can try to help muffle outside noises is soundproofing your windows. 

That is easier than you might think. You can pick up insulating foam from a nearby hardware store to seal gaps. Install thin strips of foam on the bottom inside of the windowsill. 

If practical, you could also consider installing double-pane windows, which are effective in blocking out noise. 

Final Thoughts

Good sleep can directly impact the quality of our everyday lives, so we must get high-quality sleep each night. When noises constantly interrupt your sleep cycle, the results can range from inconvenient to dangerous. 

Now you know how to block out noise while sleeping. Use some of the tips above to block out noises at night and give yourself the restful snooze you need and deserve. 

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