It can feel like a nightmare trying to get to sleep in a busy place, but there are ways to adapt to the noise and fall asleep.
Even if you’re staying in a noisy hotel, residing near a busy junction, or shacking up with rowdy housemates, you may soon find yourself sleeping peacefully.
To help you catch some shut-eye, we’ve compiled the top trade secrets from around the world. Check out our article to learn typical reasons why you can’t sleep, as well as strategies for falling asleep even if there’s noise around you.
The Brain’s Response to Noise
It doesn’t matter if we’re in the deepest stages of REM sleep or just beginning to drift off when we’re woken up frequently; these disruptions can considerably decrease the quality of our slumber even if we obtain enough of sleep cumulatively. We also put our productivity, happiness, and mental health at risk when we don’t get enough sleep. Though even deep sleepers can be roused by ambient noise, light sleepers are more prone to be awakened during the later stages of sleep. An interruption in your sleep due to noise might do more than just keep you awake all night. The brain’s auditory processing capabilities are such that they remain active even when the body is at rest, allowing a person to sleep through loud environments.
Effects of Noise During Sleep
Disrupted sleep due to nighttime noises is less restorative than uninterrupted sleep. Noises that don’t jar us awake can nonetheless alter our sleep patterns without our conscious awareness. Lighter stages of sleep (stages 1 and 2), deeper (slow wave) sleep, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep are all forms of sleep that we cycle through nightly (REM). Stage 1 sleep is boosted, whereas slow wave and REM sleep are suppressed, when exposed to environmental noise such that seen in airplanes and cars.
Noise at night has been linked to stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol being released in excess, as well as to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
Scientists studying circadian rhythms in mice found that the animals were more vulnerable to the effects of noise trauma at night than during the day, leading them to speculate that the same phenomenon might be at play in humans.
Short-Term Effects of Noise
It is essential to your health and well-being that you get a decent night’s sleep without interruptions. Even though tiny alterations to your sleep structure and physiological sensation of sleep are highly improbable to be noticed, they may have more noticeable effects the following day. Exposure to nighttime noise the night before is connected with sleepiness, irritation, and worse mental health the following day.
Long-Term Effects of Noise
Over time, low-quality sleep has been related to health problems like hypertension, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. Studies suggest a link between noise in the bedroom and high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and the increased use of sleep drugs, but the link between noise in the bedroom and long-term health impacts is less obvious.
How to Sleep Through Noise
It’s not fun to fall asleep with the music from the next-door party blasting through your head. Here are a few ideas to help you get some shut-eye despite all that commotion.
Earplugs are useful in a variety of settings, from resting on an airplane to snoozing through raucous European hostel nights. Soft, squishable silicone types are recommended because they are pretty adhesive without leaving a painful residue once removed from the ear.
They’re consistent enough to remain put in your ears all night. Even if your roommates shoot off fireworks in the backyard, you should be able to sleep well without being disturbed by the noise (I personally swear by these).
White Noise Machine
A white noise machine might help you relax by producing soothing background noise. The gentle whirring sounds, for instance, can be used to drown out ambient noise and aid in falling asleep. Numerous manufacturers provide gadgets that can play a wide variety of sounds. Find a machine that simulates the noises you find most relaxing, such as the ocean, wind, wind chimes, or the sound of a fan.
Air Conditioner or Fan
The hum of an air conditioner can effectively mask other ambient noises, much like a white noise machine. When you think about how often we don’t hear the buzz of a fan or the whir of an air conditioner until we turn it off, you can see how our brains stop identifying the sound of that machine after a while. The noise canceling properties of these are an added bonus for those who find it difficult to fall asleep in quiet environments.
Distract Your Ears
Here are some all-encompassing and inexpensive options for individuals who would like take a less complicated route.
If you have trouble blocking out noise without the use of earplugs, you may find that practicing deep breathing techniques is helpful. Oxygenating the body by deep breathing can also reduce stress and make it simpler to nod off. To maximize the relaxing effects of this practice, try breathing deeply and rhythmically through your nose and then out your mouth.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a common yoga technique used to prepare the body for sleep by decreasing levels of physiological tension. In order for this to be effective, one must tense and then relax their entire body in a specific order, starting at the top of the head and moving down to the soles of their feet. Some people find it useful to imagine a beam of light passing through their body, allowing them to concentrate on each individual part.
Practicing meditation right before bed can help you relax your body and calm your mind, allowing you to sleep soundly regardless of the noise level in your immediate environment. In addition, meditating has been shown to have positive effects on health and well-being, including lowering blood pressure, boosting immunity, and encouraging calmness inside. All these things combined could make for a more peaceful night’s sleep, allowing you to relax and fall asleep despite the cacophony of your surroundings.
Since many people’s ears are especially sensitive to noise, a track with calming music or sounds may do the trick.
Spending time in outdoors may improve sleep quality, according to the available evidence. The soothing sounds of nature can help divert your attention and ease you into a restful sleep if you can find the right YouTube channel.
Researchers have shown that listening to music can have profound affects on our psyches, including the ability to induce sleep. Additionally, studies have shown that listening to calming music can help people of all ages and backgrounds get a better night’s rest. Are you curious enough to keep digging? Take a look at our recommended listening list for a good night’s rest.
Exercise Before Bed
Getting in shape might greatly improve the quality of sleep you’re able to get each night. The Cleveland Clinic found that regular exercise improved sleep quality, and aerobic exercise had benefits similar to those of sleep aids. It is recommended, however, that you allow at least two hours between your final activity and night.
Follow a Bedtime Routine
The mind is at its most at ease when it is following a schedule, and since the mind and body are so closely linked, giving yourself the routine it craves may help you nod off. Furthermore, as our natural circadian cycle is influenced by sunshine, synchronizing your days to match more with the sun should help you fall asleep more easily.
Go to the Source and Have a Conversation
If the thought of confronting the source of the noise makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. However, approaching the subject with a nice and respectful demeanor may help. Furthermore, some people simply aren’t aware of how loud they are, so if you explain your predicament, you might elicit some sympathy and possibly achieve a quieter result.
More Extreme Methods
Strategic Furniture Positioning
Put a cushioned wall or door between your bed and the rest of the room to reduce noise. If possible, sleep in a different room than the ones that produce the most noise. If you have noisy roommates, you might still be able to get some shut-eye by moving your bed into a more secluded area of the room or placing it closer to the door.
Use Blockers to Drown Out Noise
The Washington Post suggests that one technique to mitigate noise pollution from traffic is to plant shrubs along the exterior of one’s home. It is also possible that strategically placed soft furnishings, such as blankets, towels, and cushions, could serve as noise absorbers.
Insulate Your Room
Soft furnishings are helpful in reducing the echoing effect of a room with plenty of hard surfaces, such as hardwood floors or walls. Soft furnishings like a shag rug, wall tapestries, or heavy curtains can help block out light and sound. In addition, using a material like cork in the narrow area under your door can assist prevent noise from escaping into your room.
Special Tips for Travelers
Request a Quiet Room
If you’re planning a trip and think you might be bothered by the noise of other guests, it’s a good idea to ask for a quiet room in advance. Whether or not a room is distant from the lobby or elevators is something you should inquire about when making your reservation. They are in the hospitality business, therefore they will probably be more than willing to comply with your request.
Read Online Reviews
Before making a reservation, it’s a good idea to find out if previous guests have complained about noise disturbances at the area you’re thinking about staying at. There is hope in the form of evaluations written by dissatisfied guests who wish to forewarn other visitors of potentially rowdy neighbors.
Is It Better to Sleep in Silence or With Noise?
A perfect world would be one in which everyone has access to a private, silent bedroom. Unfortunately, most people have to deal with noise at night.
If you still find yourself disturbed by noises late at night despite taking the aforementioned precautions, you may want to consider using a “acoustic perfume” to mask ambient noises in your bedroom. It’s possible that constant background noise can assist mitigate the negative effects of noise exposure on sleep by masking or drowning out the sounds you have no control over. In addition, some people find that white noise or some other form of background noise helps to prepare the mind for sleep by diverting attention away from worrisome or intrusive thoughts.
There is mixed evidence on whether or not listening to white noise while sleeping is beneficial. One study indicated that the addition of air conditioner noise to the bedroom had no beneficial effect on sleep quality. Similarly, a study conducted on the effects of playing white noise in the rooms of hospitalized patients found that, compared to a control group, patients in the white noise condition slept better for three consecutive nights. Sleep-disordered individuals benefited from white noise by 38%, according to a third study. Given the mixed results, it may come down to individual preference whether or not to include background noise.
What Are the Best Sounds to Sleep To?
The greatest night sounds for sleeping will vary from person to person, but in general, they should be loud enough to mask outside noises and should have a consistent tone and level so as not to jolt you awake. You could benefit from trying out a few different options and seeing what works best. We’ve compiled a list of suggestions to help you get rolling:
- White noise is the result of superimposing numerous sound frequencies. An option is to purchase a white-noise generator, or you may investigate using a white-noise app or sound file on your mobile device. If the harshness of white noise bothers you, try pink noise. To create a more uniform and less layered sound, pink noise combines higher levels of high-frequency noise with lower levels of low-frequency noise.
- Try cranking up the air conditioner or fan to create a steady background hum that can mask some of the more distracting sounds outside.
- Each person has their own unique musical preferences and experiences, so finding songs that help you relax and go asleep is a matter of trial and error. Making or listening to a playlist of soothing music can help you get to sleep at night.
- Natural ambiance: Some people find that they sleep better if they listen to natural sounds like rain, the ocean, or the wind. You can find apps or sound files to put onto your device, or some sleep sound machines come preloaded with a variety of sounds to choose from.
How can I reduce traffic noise?
Shelves, thick curtains, or window sealant can assist muffle outside noise and allow you to get a better night’s rest. In order to tune out the distracting sounds and concentrate on the more calming ones, white noise machines or music playlists might be used. Planting some shrubs outside or within your home can also help reduce noise pollution. If the aforementioned measures fail, silicone earplugs are an excellent backup plan. Use caution when putting them on to avoid damaging your hearing.