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How to Sleep When You Have a Noisy Housemate

How to Sleep When You Have a Noisy Housemate
Written By
Photographs By
Jess Ewald for Parachute
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We’re not even going to assume that your roommate is intentionally being disruptive at night. Maybe you have different schedules, and some noise while you’re trying to sleep is just inevitable. Or maybe your bedroom happens to be near a high-traffic part of the home, like the kitchen or hallway. Or, yeah, maybe your roommate is just really rude. But for whatever reason, there’s a noise situation even the softest sheets can’t solve, and it’s keeping you from getting rest.

There are plenty of ways you might want to address this situation in daylight hours. A quick chat over chips and homemade guacamole? Passive aggressive banging around in the kitchen as you make your morning coffee? A calendar invite for a “Housemate Touchbase”? That’s up to you.

But this isn’t an article on roommate mediation techniques. We’re here to solve problems. Here are five ways to counter a noisy roommate and help you get to sleep.

Absorb the Noise with More (White) Noise

There’s a reason white noise machines are so common in baby nurseries and therapists’ offices — the right one will work wonders. That’s because they create a consistent, ambient sound that helps absorb outside noises, including what are called “peak” sounds, like a door slamming shut, making them less likely to disturb your sleep. A loud fan can sometimes do the trick, too, and you can also find white noise playlists online — or just keep piping through your speakers all night.

Go Old School and Get Earplugs

It sounds too straightforward, but sometimes earplugs are the easiest and best solution. The right pair will block or muffle a wide range of sounds, from high-pitched shrills to a steady bass thump. In fact, heavy sleepers beware: Some ear plugs are so good, there’s a risk they’ll work too well. There are dozens of shapes and materials out there ranging from $2 to more than $200, so it makes sense to experiment with what works best for you. For what it’s worth, the traditional and inexpensive PVC or polyurethane foam plugs often beat out more expensive counterparts in online rankings, so don’t feel like you have to make a big investment to get some peace.

Decorate Your Way to Silence

It’s almost unbelievable how much some strategically placed fabric can muffle exterior sound. Sound travels through the air and bounces off flat surfaces, so the more you can cover, the quieter it will be. Try layering your door with some heavy upholstery fabric or a nice tapestry, and doing the same to the walls is a good idea, too. You can buy fabric specifically designed for soundproofing, but anything will do — the thicker, the better. You can also try strategically placing a sound-absorbing room divider alongside your bed (or make your own by hanging a thick curtain from the ceiling) to help quiet your sleeping area.

Get a Little Herbal Help

If you ever have trouble sleeping — and who doesn’t?  — your nightstand is incomplete without some lavender oil. The lovely purple flower has been lauded for its ability to help lull us to dreamland for thousands of years, and it can definitely do the same for you, regardless of what’s happening outside your bedroom walls. Try making a DIY room spray by combining 15-20 drops of lavender essential oil with some rubbing alcohol (which acts as an emulsifier) to spritz onto your bedding before bed. Beyond the calming effects of the herb, having a little pre-bed routine can help trigger your mind into knowing that it’s time for rest — maybe with a mug of chamomile or passionflower tea, which are also both known to help induce sleep. A lavender lotion, salve or Scented Candle can do the trick as well. (For more on natural ways to help you get to sleep, check out this article.)

Stretch Your Way to Sleep

While Surya Namaskar, the sun salutation, is an energizing and empowering way to start your day, there are plenty of yoga poses that can help you wind down and prepare for sleep. Viparita Karani, also known as “legs up the wall pose” is an easy and restorative move that can help you find your zen — and your zzzs. Simply lay down and raise your feet against a wall, then remain there for a couple minutes. Another good one is the lying down goddess stretch, which can be done in bed. Lay on your back with the soles of your feet pressed together so your knees are bent and falling to the side, and let your arms lay casually down by your sides. For something with a little more of a flow, check out Chandra Namaskar, the moon salutation. It’s best done on a more-or-less empty stomach, so it might not be ideal for everyone.

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