How to block out noise while sleeping: 11 Essential Tips

Struggling to get some decent sleep because of all the noise? You’re not the only one! Many people have disturbed sleep patterns because of  traffic noise, loud neighbors watching TV at 3 AM or having grown-up fun, and all sorts of other quirky perks of being part of society.

Does this mean that you HAVE TO develop insomnia because of a few bad apples? Not at all. There are many ways to minimize or completely eliminate the noise that prevents you from sleeping.

Here are 11 essential tips that I can offer from personal experience and from checking out what other homo sapiens are saying on this exact issue.

Home noise solutions:

1. Use ear plugs or ear muffs

This is the easiest way to prevent noise. Ear plugs are the little plugs that you put inside your ears to block out noise. Ear muffs look like headphones and they’re placed on the ears to block noise and cold. Both options have a few positive and negative features.

Ear plugs are great because you can sleep in any position when you plug them in. You can sleep on your back, on your stomach, on your side or like a starfish, which is how my wife sleeps.

However, I’ve personally found them to be irritating for my ears, and they would pop out after some time on their own. I’m not sure if it’s because my ears are oddly shaped or the ear plugs were too big or whatever. But I couldn’t use them for more than 10-15 minutes before the nagging pressure in my ears made me throw them in the can.

Ear muffs are a great option because they’re placed on the ears like headphones, so you don’t have to “plug” your ears exactly. It just feels better because the ears aren’t clogged. But you can’t really sleep on the sides while wearing them.

The only way I can get some sleep is if I sleep on my left side, with my right arm under my head.. sorta. Ear muffs make this position impossible. But if you’re one of those lucky people who sleeps on their back like a mummy, this is the simplest option in my humble opinion.

2. Use a sleep mask

I used a sleep mask for a few months before soundproofing my bedroom window. Sleep masks are usually made of soft material and they go all the way across head, covering both eyes and ears.

A sleep mask won’t block the noise completely, but it does reduce it. Call me paranoid, but I don’t even like to be completely blocked out from the rest of the world while I’m sleeping. What if there’s a fire, or a thief in my apartment? He could take all of my furniture, bed included, and I would know nothing about it. So having the ability to hear some sounds even while sleeping is preferable in my opinion.

3. Turn on white noise

White noise is a constant, orderly noise that drowns other environmental noises. Many people use white noise machines like LectroFan in offices and bedrooms and nurseries.

There are a few ways to produce white noise while you sleep. You can play a 10 hour Youtube video of white noise on your computer or smartphone for example. Using earbuds or headphones will make it more difficult to sleep on your sides, so it’s better to have it on speakers.

Or you can use a white noise machine like the one I linked to before. The difference between the white noise produced by a machine and regular videos or mp3 is the overall quality of the sound, and some other features like other types of noise that can be set up.

There’s one other benefit worth mentioning. I sometimes play white noise or binaural beats for meditation or to fall asleep easier, and so do millions of other people across the world. It’s worth giving it a shot just to fall asleep faster. Perhaps the other sounds won’t bother you as much when you’re already at la-la land.

But whether a white noise machine can help you depends mostly on your special someone. Ask them if they’re okay with it. If they don’t like the sound, then using ear buds for listening is the best solution.

Also, don’t expect white noise to override really loud and unexpected sounds. It’s good for drowning out regular traffic noise or loud talkers, but if someone decides to blow the horn in the middle of the night, you’ll definitely hear it.

4. Hang noise-blocking curtains

You can wrap your head in fine fabric, or you can place fine fabric on your window. If the troublesome noise you’re experiencing is traffic noise or drunkards yelling on the streets, noise-blocking curtains are a pretty convenient solution.

These curtains are heavier than regular ones, and they provide thermal and sound insulation, as well as blocking the light from the outside to a much higher degree. It’s another affordable option, and you can purchase all the ingredients on Amazon. You’ll need:

  • noise blocking curtains
  • a standard curtain rod (if you don’t have one already)

I recommend those curtains because I use them, and I use those ones for a good reason – they’re pretty long! This is a benefit since the more of the surface you can cover, the better noise reduction you’ll have.

5. Seal the gaps between the window and window frame

Any open spaces will allow noise and cold air to enter the room. You can use cheap weatherstripping tape to cover the window frame and seal these gaps permanently.

A more temporary solution is to roll up a towel or a blanket to seal the gap under the window.

Those are the easiest soundproofing methods for windows. But they’re not the only ones available. I’ve listed a few more “hardcore” methods in this article.

6. Soundproof other parts of the bedroom

The noise could be coming from the next door neighbors, or those above or below! Or perhaps through your thin bedroom door. I’ve written many quick solutions that can help. Check out these articles to learn more:

Soundproof a hollow door

Soundproof a sliding glass door

Soundproof a wall

Soundproof a floor

Soundproof a ceiling

7. Tell your partner to stop snoring

If your source of noise is a snoring partner, then you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands. Snoring can be difficult to treat, because there can be various causes. Sinus issues, irregular breathing patterns, stress, heart condition, and many other factors can play a role. I’m not an expert on this topic, but I know one thing that helped people close to me cure their snoring completely.

Yes, completely, and for free. It’s called the Buteyko Breathing Method. Buteyko was a famous doctor in the Soviet Union. He was in charge of physically preparing Soviet astronauts for their first flights in space.

Well, what he discovered was that most people are in fact over-breathing and are in a chronic state of anxiety and panic because of it. His method is similar to meditation and yoga. Both of these traditional methods have the same goal as the Buteyko Method; to slow down the breathing and relax naturally, which has a positive effect on health and well-being. But Buteyko was the first one to explain why this happens scientifically.

Breathing through the mouth causes over-breathing by depleting the body of CO2 (carbon dioxide). Imagine if you were hyperventilating. A doctor would tell you to breathe into a paper bag to calm down. What is the logic behind that? Well, if you breathe in a paper bag you’ll reduce your intake of oxygen and increase your CO2 levels. This will cause relaxation and bring your breathing pattern back to normal.

So most people think that CO2 is a useless gas and that we only need oxygen. But in fact, to have the proper amount of oxygen in the blood we need a proper amount of CO2 as well. There has to be a balance between the two. If you’re used to breathing through the mouth or yawning all the time there’s a big chance that you don’t have enough CO2 in lungs.

So the first step towards curing snoring is to ONLY breathe through your nose. There are many breathing exercises that are part of the Buteyko method and there are ways to measure the progress.

Everyone can do this for free, although there are coaches and books on this topic as well. So if you’re interested to learn more, check out Normal Breathing, arguably the most informative website on the topic.

But if your partner doesn’t have the time or desire to try out the Buteyko Method, there are a few quick solutions available. If the reason for snoring is nasal congestion nose vents can keep the nasal passages open during sleep and prevent snoring.

If the reason for snoring is something else, using an anti-snoring chin strap may also work. It keeps your mouth shut, so you have to breathe through the nose. Chin straps are also great for mouth breathers who want to retrain themselves back to proper nose breathing.

Hotel/hostel noise solutions:

If you find yourself in a noisy situation outside of your home, here’s what you can do:

1. Pick a quite sleeping area

This is an obvious prevention tactic. Instead of staying in a hotel/hostel in a crowded urban area with a lot of traffic, look for a place that’s a bit more remote, but still close enough to where you want to spend most of your time. If you’re a tourist, having longer walks or bike rides is the best way to get the real vibe for the place anyway.

2. Ask for a specific room

The higher you go, the less traffic noise you’ll have to worry about. This won’t make much of a difference between the 1st and the 3rd floor for example, but if it’s a high-rise, 10th floor and higher will really cut down on the noise.

Just make sure that the room is also away from the elevator and that it doesn’t face an open parking garage. Getting a corner room is generally the best option.

3. Carry your noise-blockers with you

Don’t forget to take with you ear plugs, ear muffs or a sleeping mask that you generally use. Some hotels hand out ear plugs to their guests for free, but many don’t.

4. Switch to a different room

If you have noisy neighbors in a hotel, it’s an easier problem to solve than back at home. Ask the receptionist to give you another room, and possibly one that is further away from other guests. But take into consideration the advice provided before about asking for a specific room.


If you can’t get a decent night’s rest because of loud neighbors or other homo sapiens, I feel for ya. But I also hope that at least one of these methods will prove useful to blocking or reducing the noise to a significant extent.

If you’ve dealt with this problem before and have any tips that haven’t been mentioned already, please share them in the comment section below. It’s always appreciated!

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