By Oktay Ozadam
Finding how to block out noise when sleeping is a great way to improve sleep, but is it even possible?
Noise pollution is a growing problem, and according to scientists, being disturbed by noise when you are sleeping is a threat to health.
Health statistics show that nearly a third of us suffer from insomnia and often this is due to being kept awake by external noises, such as a snoring partner or other environmental disturbances
Noise disturbances are Often Caused by Other People
In many cases, it is the noise caused by other people that has such a bad effect upon our sleeping.
- Is your partner's snoring ruining your sleep?
- Nightmare noisy neighbors
- Living in a noisy household can make your nights unbearable ...
Snoring is one of the worst offenders when it comes to noise pollution at night, so if your partner is keeping you awake at night with his or her sleeping noises, you need to take action.
Anti-snoring devices such as nasal strips, anti-snore chin straps, and anti-snoring air purifiers that you can fit under the nose may offer the snorer in your life, and you some relief.
According to the NHS, there are also some simple steps you can take to alleviate the problem, such as asking your snoring partner to think about cutting out alcohol, quitting smoking, lying on his or her side rather than the back, and losing weight.
All we can say here is good luck! In many cases, people just don't want to hear this type of advice!
Dealing with external noise can be more of a tricky issue.
If your neighbors are keeping you awake with their parties, rows, or sex life, for example, you could try talking to them to make them realize there is a problem with their noise levels.
Some tact and diplomacy are called for here because you don't want to start a row with the people who live so close to you.
Alternatively, you may be kept awake by family or household members. Common issues include playing noisy video games, coming home late and making a noise, teenagers, people speaking loudly and bashing and crashing about in the kitchen.
If people in your own home are keeping you awake, it is certainly time to speak frankly about it and open up the lines of communication.
How to Sound Proofing your Home for Maximum Peace and Quiet
You can take steps to soundproof your home or your bedroom.
- Soundproof your windows blocks out external noise
- Room divider curtains help block noise pollution
- Insulation for the floors, walls and ceilings, reduces nuisance noise levels
- Acoustic tiles – an easy sound insulating solution
- Try moving the furniture
- Sleep in a different bedroom
One way of soundproofing your windows is to hang thick soundproof curtains. Doing this will block out some external noise, as well as light, so you may find this helps.
You can also try checking your wall cavities around the window and blocking any gaps where sound may creep in.
Acoustic caulk is an easy way to seal any small openings.
You can also stick weatherproofing tape to your window frames – this will also prevent draughts and insulate your home.
You can also put up room divider curtains to absorb noise. This can be especially effective if the noise is within the house. You don't have to go full-on four-poster bed mode, but by creating some barriers between the source of noise and where you sleep, you will find that night-time noise pollution will be reduced.
Insulating your floor ceilings and walls will absorb noise as well as help you save money on heating bills.
Putting down carpets, instead of leaving floors bare will stop you from being disturbed by steps.
You can also use acoustic insulation between the ground floor and the first floor to reduce vibration noise, and doing this, cuts off the air cavities, which enable sound to travel.
You can also use acoustic insulation between walls and on the ceilings.
There is a range of products specifically designed for this purpose, such as adhesive tiles, cork, rockwool slabs, and more.
An old fashioned method, once used by hard-up musicians, was to stick egg boxes onto the wall, but luckily we have moved on since then.
Furniture absorbs noise, so if you are troubled by sounds coming through the wall from another room or next door, lining the wall with furniture such as wardrobes or a bookcase will undoubtedly make things quieter.
Your master bedroom may be at the front of your home, but if this faces onto a busy road, you may find that moving to a room elsewhere in the house enables you to sleep more peacefully.
Many people do not consider noise levels, especially if they are new to a house, but merely changing things around a little in your home can lead to peaceful nights and better sleep.
Use Smart Technology to Block out Noise
If you don't want to change things round in your home or bedroom or fit insulation, another option for blocking out noise pollution is to ensure that you just don't hear it!
Noise-canceling headphones are especially effective if you wish to block out the sleeping noises of a snoring partner or restless sleeper.
- Ear Muffs
- Sleep headphones
- Headband headphones
- On-Ear Sleep Headphones
- Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs
- Music Playing Pillows
- White Noise Machines
Many people use earplugs to sleep. You can choose between simple foam earplugs that block out noise, so you sleep in silence or alternatively try earplugs that also function as headphones.
Maxrock Sleep Earplugs are noise-insulating earplugs made from silicon. The ear tips fit comfortably into your ears and enable you to listen to music as you doze and are suitable for use, whether you sleep on your back or are a side sleeper.
Ear Muffs provide a more basic solution for blocking out sound while you sleep, rather than providing you with alternative sounds or music. So if you just need peace and quiet, they could be a good option.
One brand that caught our eye is Hibermate Sleep Mask with Ear Muffs. The earmuffs are made from medical grade silicone and seal around your ears. The set also includes a sleep eye mask, so you should be able to block out sound and light even when traveling.
Hibermate has a good noise reduction rating but is not suitable for use in an industrial setting as it is not designed to function as ear defenders.
Sleep Headphones are specifically designed to be worn in bed. They are more comfortable and far less bulky than regular external earphones.
These are constructed from a soft fabric material that you wear round your head and over your ears. They have built-in speakers and are controlled via an app, Smartphone, or tablet.
There are a couple of brands on the market that may be worth a try -Cozyphones Sleep Headphones which look comfortable and include a range, especially for children featuring some cute animal designs.
These are small headphones that fit outside your ear via a loop over the ear. The soft pads nestle on your ears externally rather than fitting inside the ear as ear tips.
DubsLabs Bedphones are billed as the world's smallest on-ear headphones. They are available in wired and wireless models, so they are fully controllable via Bluetooth, and they are specifically designed for use in bed because they are comfortable.
Whether you wish to block out noise pollution or just want to listen to music, audiobooks, or watch movies without disturbing other sleepers, on-ear sleep headphones are a good option for a range of purposes, including travel.
QuietOn is a more sophisticated version of the earmuff. These are noise-canceling earbuds that have been tested in a range of different environments such as traveling and when working in noisy offices but seem to score highly for bed use.
If your partner is keeping you awake with sleeping noises such as snoring, or you have noisy neighbors or environmental disturbances going on, these types of earbuds may offer an easy solution. They are also suitable for use outside the home so they may be useful if you travel.
Using pillow may be inconvenient if you wish to sleep while traveling or on the go, but for home use, this type of product can be very useful.
A smart music pillow comes with built-in fitted speakers so that the music vibrates up from the base of the pillow into your ears.
The sound is only audible to you alone, and without the need for headphones or anything fixed to your ears, this looks like a dreamy and comfortable way of listening to relaxing sounds before you fall asleep.
There is a couple of pillows that play music on the market that may be worth thinking about.
The ZEEQ Smart Pillow by Rem-Fit comes with some extra features such as a snore alarm, alarm clock, sleep timer, and more. There is also the Dream Pad, which has been very well researched, and it plays music only you can hear.
Music playing pillows might help you if you are a chronic bad sleeper and wish to invest in a long term solution that enables you to listen to music while sleeping.
A white noise machine is a sleep noisemaker that produces a steady background noise. White noise contains all frequencies in the hearing range and is usually described as sounding like the static you can hear on your radio or TV set.
It can sound like the blowing wind, the sea in a constant shhh shhh shhh sound but the critical thing to know is that white noise blocks out other noises. We hear white noise in the womb, so find it comforting.
A sleep noise maker that uses white noise can be effective for blocking out all noise pollution and can be less distracting than listening to music or audiobooks.
There are a few white noise machines on the market, such as the Lectrofan White Noise Fan machine. This one provides a range of ambient fan sounds at different frequencies and volumes so that it can be regulated for the optimum experience.
You can also download an app that does much the same thing. Described as bedtime fan noise, an App is an excellent way to try out the white noise experience without spending any or much money.
We looked at BedTime Fan Noise White Noise Fan Sleep Sounds, which is free to download. However, there are many alternatives that you can check out in your App store.
How to Make Personal Changes to Improve your Sleep
In many cases, the answer to getting a good night's sleep lies in our own hands. The issue may not be just about trying to sleep in a noisy environment but may be caused by our own bodies, stress levels, or by simply not being tired enough to sleep deeply.
If you are not ready or relaxed enough for sleep, any small sound may be enough to keep you awake or will wake you up.
- Try to forget about the noise and accept it
- Focus on something else
- Make sure you are tired when you go to bed
- Avoid caffeine late in the day
- Alcohol does not help you sleep
- Don't sleep in the day
- Establish a bedtime routine
- Health supplements can help you sleep.
Try not to get stressed by the noise, instead try to accept it by mindfulness and remain open about the sounds without fixating on how much it is disturbing you personally. After all, we wouldn't stress about the sound of the sea if we were lying on a beach, so try to accept the noise, and you may find that it stops bothering you.
When you focus on something else, noise pollution can become less of a problem.
Try doing some basic relaxation techniques such as tensing your toes, your ankle, and all the way up to your body to the top of the head. Hold yourself in the tensed position for 10 seconds and then reverse the process. After a few cycles of this, you will probably fall asleep.
Counting sheep or carrying out similarly mundane thought patterns can actually work to improve sleep and make you less focused on external sounds such as road, neighbor, traffic, apartment noises, and snoring.
If you have had a sedentary day spent indoors in front of a screen, you might not be physically tired enough to sleep easily.
Doing some physical exercise such as going for a walk or a run will help you sleep better and improve your health, as long as you don't do it too close to bedtime as it does have an energizing effect.
Sex is also a good way to improve sleep and is one of the only energetic exercises that can make you instantly sleepy.
According to doctors, if exercise was a pill, it would be the single most beneficial medication in the world!
Caffeine is the world's favorite stimulant. It keeps us going throughout the day and can provide a much-needed energy buzz. Because of this, it is not a good idea to drink caffeine too late in the day, or it will keep you buzzing and focusing on noise pollution rather than sleep.
Many people believe that an alcoholic drink before bedtime helps sleep, but in truth, alcohol is far more likely to keep you awake. Although it causes you to fall asleep when you first get into bed, it disrupts your sleep and usually wakes you up in the second half of the night.
Alcohol is also a significant cause of sleep apnoea and snoring, so it can make you an unwitting source of noise pollution!
Although a little power nap may help recharge batteries during the course of the day, you do need to be careful, or this will disrupt sleep patterns.
According to research, a 20-minute nap between 2.00 pm and 3.00 pm may help pick you up, but any longer and your night-time sleep is likely to be affected.
Falling into a deep sleep in the middle of the day will also make you less alert and less productive
According to the NHS, keeping to a regular nighttime routine will help you sleep better.
Most adults require around 8 hours a night. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time each day will help tell your body when it is time to sleep and when to be awake.
Keep your bedroom only for night time activities such as sex and sleeping will also help you sleep better without disturbances.
Drinking chamomile tea or sleeping on a pillow that contains lavender or hops can be easy herbal ways to improve sleep.
Taking a melatonin supplement is also useful. Melatonin is a hormone made in the body by the Pineal gland that helps regulate sleep. It stays inactive throughout the day, but levels in the body rise in most people from around 9 pm onwards and remain elevated for about 12 hours.
Taking a melatonin supplement if your sleep levels have been disrupted through shift work or travel may help bring your sleep patterns back into balance.