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Foolproof ways to block out noise and get sleep

Foolproof ways to block out noise and get sleep

Anyone who’s been to New York City will know that it could not possibly be described as quiet.

I handed our Airbnb guests a packet of earplugs in case the noises of New York City were too loud.

“We shouldn’t need them – we can sleep through anything!” was their reply.

Oh, how I envy the people that can do this.

I’m regularly awoken by sirens, car horns, crazy/drunk people yelling in the streets, or the guy upstairs thumping about in his apartment at stupid hours of the night. The city that never sleeps is quite an accurate description of New York City.

But I often get bothered by noise when I travel, too. While everyone else seems to comfortably ignore people partying in hostels, children screaming on planes, or the sound of Drake pumping through the earphones of someone on a long bus ride… I sit there fuming because it irritates me.

I’ve known for a long while that I struggle to sleep through noise, so I’ve been experimenting with ways to block it out. It depends on the situation, but there’s usually one or two things we can do. Here’s 4 foolproof ways that I’ve found to block out noise and get sleep.

4 foolproof ways to block out noise and get sleep

1. use Ear plugs

Ear plugs are my number one weapon for blocking out sounds. If I’m trying to sleep anywhere that has even the slightest bit of noise, I’ll pop in some earplugs which will muffle or eliminate the disturbance.

The only problem I have with earplugs is that they irritate the inside of my ears if I use them for more than a few nights in a row, so I have to take a break. When this happens, I’ll try and use one of the following options instead.

2. play White noise

White noise is nearly as good as using ear plugs. Instead of blocking out the noise, the steady frequency of white noise makes it less obvious. I find this is great for traffic or other distant noises.

I downloaded a white noise app on my smartphone which I turn on right before I go to sleep, and then I keep my phone fairly close to my head. After a few seconds, I forget that there’s white noise playing and it just blends into my surroundings.

For this to work, my phone has to be plugged in to power otherwise it runs out of battery overnight. Also keep in mind this option might not be so good for hostel dorms (unless you’re perfectly ok with pissing off everyone else in the room).

4 foolproof ways to block out noise and get sleep

4 foolproof ways to block out noise and get sleep

3. utilise Blankets/towels

Noise often gets through gaps in windows and the cracks between doors and the floor. To muffle it, you can use a rolled up blanket or towel to cover the gap.

This also can work on thin window panes that are letting in noise from outside. I placed a thick blanket over the bedroom window of our New York apartment when there was some night-time road work going on a few weeks ago and it made a huge difference to muffling the noise.

4 foolproof ways to block out noise and get sleep

4. Move somewhere else

When I stayed in a hostel in Krakow, a group of young travellers returned to our dorm in the middle of the night. Two of them were a couple, who started having a domestic in the room even when it was obvious that we were trying to sleep in there, and then one of the guys woke up at 5am and decided to ask his mate how his night was even though the guy was passed out drunk and non-responsive.

The next morning, I went straight to the front desk and asked if they had any other rooms available, then paid an extra $10 per night to upgrade to a private room. It just wasn’t worth me having the same trouble with these idiots again.

Sometimes you won’t have the option to change rooms like I did, but there’s a few other things you might be able to do. Try moving to a different bed if you’re in a hostel dorm – you’d be surprised at what an extra few feet of distance will do to the noise level. You could also try moving seats if you’re on a bus/plane/train.

5. listen to music

If all of these don’t work, then you can try popping in some noise cancelling headphones and playing some music to block out the noise. The steady beats of your favourite band will be much more pleasant than the sound of some guy snoring.

Do you have trouble sleeping through noise? Or are you lucky enough to be able to block it all out? Share your experience in the comments!

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12 Responses to “Foolproof ways to block out noise and get sleep”

  1. Melanie Messerli

    I wish I was a heavy sleeper, but I am the total opposite! I have heard great things about the White Noise app. I will definitely have to check it out ASAP!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      You and me both, Melanie! I don’t think heavy sleepers realise how good they’ve got it. The white noise app is so good, I use it all the time 🙂

      • Novy

        Turn on headspace sleep tones 40 mins before sleeping and read a book. breathing exercises after you get back from work with noise cancelling earphones. White noise from air purifier or fan is a great one. Not drinking coffee within 6 hours of bed time. Some herbs that helps in sleeping.

  2. Sophie

    Great tips! Eugh I hate it when people are so oblivious when sharing a hostel room.
    Another good tip is to nab the bottom bunk and hang your blanket/towel off the bunk above. It may look a touch anti social but if a light goes on in the dead of night it will shield you from it!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Ooh what a great tip! In the past I’ve hung my towel from the top bunk to dry, but I never through of using it as a blockout curtain – that’s genius! Thanks Sophie 🙂

  3. Laura Paola

    City noises (traffic, sirens, protests) don’t actually bother me, I’ve gotten use to that. It’s the tv noise and light that my bf needs to sleep, company yelling (talking) in the living room. It is really only yelling that bothers me, whether it’s while I’m trying to sleep or at work. Earplugs haven’t worked for me, I use 33 dB noise reduction plugs. Headphones with music work while on the bus or at work to concentrate or just tone other people out, but they are very uncomfortable to sleep with.
    I’ve noticed that it’s people noise that I find distracting. Lots of people talking at the same time (I get dizzy in crowded malls), yelling, etc.

  4. Susan Ewbank

    I am desperate for sleep…next door have a barking dog, and slam their doors, and down the road is a builder who puts his loud radio on from 6am all day, and no matter how many complaints, he’s not bothered.
    Please help anyone…I’ve tried ear plugs, had secondary glazing installed, nothing works. The council have been informed, nothing again. I’m 71 retired and disabled, my life is living hell.

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh that sounds awful, Susan! If you have tried all of those things already and nothing has worked, the only suggestion I have is to move to a new place. It might not be ideal, but it would get you away from the noisy neighbours.

    • joe marcia

      I really sympathise with you,Susan. It’s one of the worse things garage to be disturbed by selfish people! I’m in a similar situation myself. The council and housing association don’t seem to care and the culprits where I live don’t care either. I’ve actually had words with my neighbours and complained but they just patronise me as if I’m being unreasonable. The best thing to do would do be to get a professional round to see if they can make any alterations such as sound proofing your house. Sound proof curtains seem like a good option and aren’t too expensive,also foam which can be cut to fit your wife window on the inside and block out noise. By the way ,that’s builder sounds like an selfish man! Surely he can’t play his music from 6 am?

  5. Sasha White

    I have trouble 😴 because of the kids upstairs be running and all we hear is tump we go to work in the morning. We live in a place that we can move downstairs but we have to wait.


    Aircraft noise
    FAA decided to route air traffic over our community. I hear aircraft noise over my head every night. The air traffic is very heavy day and night. Aircraft even flies over very late at night, like 3:00 am. I am not able to sleep very well since the air traffic noise, since November 2018. I tried almost everything, such as aromatherapy, white noise, ear plugs, prescribed sleeping pills. None worked so far. I even requested my HOA to approve sound-proof windows and insulation. They do not approve. I am desperately finding out the ways to sleep in my newly remodeled bedroom.
    If nothing works, I need to move out. I am not sure if my property even sells.
    If anyone knows how to soundproof properties in an effective and efficient manner.

  7. Larry

    One thing that is similar to white noise is a box fan on high speed. It makes a sufficient amount of noise when I have been in a bedroom where friends snore. I do not know about all the other sounds. I have tried the Mack’s ear plugs & used shooters ear muffs at the same time. ( the shooters muff are a little uncomfortable) . Real loud snoring may be too much.


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