It’s nighttime, and your eyes are wide open. You can’t fall asleep because it’s too noisy. Maybe your bedroom is too close to the street; loud music from across the road or a child crying next door. It seems like you’ll never get to sleep at this rate. You need your sleep, and you’re shattered but just not used to sleeping through noise. What do you do?

This is a common scenario for many people who can’t fall asleep at night due to disruptive sounds. There are plenty of choices for how to deal with that, from earplugs to white noise machines and noise-cancelling headphones. But do they work? We’ll highlight some of the options that do, further below. First, let’s take a quick look at some science behind noise and sleep.

How Noise Affects Your Sleep

Woman can't sleep due to loud noises
A woman in a bed can’t fall asleep due to loud noises

What is the connection between noise disruption and sleep? It sounds simple, but it turns out that noise is one of the most significant factors in getting a good night’s sleep. Not your mattress, not your back pain, but you guessed it, noise.

There are three different types of noisy disturbance that occur when you’re trying to fall asleep. First, loud noises interrupt your body’s natural ability to fall asleep by inhibiting the release of calming neurotransmitters in the brain.

Secondly, familiar sudden noises can startle you and make your heart race, which makes it hard to go back to sleep. Though these noises don’t induce stress the way a sudden boom would, they make it difficult for you to go back to sleep.

Finally, environmental noises aren’t as loud or frightening, but they’re still disruptive. Your mind is more focused on the noise than your breathing and relaxing, making it harder for you to fall asleep.

However, different people are affected by noise in different ways. For example, one person might be perfectly able to fall asleep in the car on the way home, but another might find that it is essential to turn off their music or television. It depends on what sound would cause you to be most distressed and keeps you awake.

Regardless, there are many simple remedies for this problem. Hopefully, one or more of these solutions will help you fall asleep in noisy places and quiet your mind.

Ways of blocking out unwanted noise at night

An Overhead View Of Couple Lying On Bed Disturbed By Noise
A couple struggling to sleep, disturbed by noise

Block cracks and windows

If there is too much noise coming from outside, the first thing to do is close off any cracks that could let the unwanted sounds through. Any small cracks in your bedroom windows or other openings letting the noise in should be blocked off. Head to your hardware store and buy a strip of window sealant, which can be placed around the window edges, which would not only stop noise coming in but also prevent drafts during winter.

Cracks and small openings in doors can be addressed by placing a towel or some other type of material around the areas where light and noise can seep through. Some people find that thick curtains can make a small difference, too; every little helps when seeking a quiet night’s sleep.

Move your furniture around

Move your bed away from the noise source. For example, if your bed is right beside the window and traffic or car alarms are the issue, try moving the bed furthest away. Likewise, if your walls are thin and your loud neighbors or their crying baby are keeping you up all night, move your bed to the other side of the room if possible.

Play some white noise

White noise can be a great option for blocking out unwanted noises. Many people find it hard to fall asleep if there is a lot of external noise, such as traffic, birds chirping and the like. But what about sounds coming from inside the room, like a ticking clock or a loudly snoring partner? Investing in a white noise machine can work wonders when trying to drown out noise during sleep, whether the disruption is indoors or outdoors.

White noise machines have also been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which can be helpful if you suffer from insomnia or high blood pressure. They are a great addition to any home and can help anyone fall asleep quickly and easily. You should invest in one of these devices if you have many distracting noises around your home.

Try some sleep apps

One other thing that I would recommend incorporating into your bedtime routine is the use of a sleep app. These smartphone apps can play white noise and other soothing sounds like rain, ocean waves or crickets, but they can also be used to play music so that you can listen to your favorite tunes while sleeping. If you are struggling to sleep because there is a lot of noise outside or traffic, these apps will help enormously.

These apps usually have at least 8 different ambient sounds to choose from and can also be used to play your music. Definitely a great tool to have on your phone if you’re struggling to sleep through noise.

Run a search on YouTube

Playing ambient noise in the background is great for sleeping in noisy surroundings. It might sound weird, defeating noise with more noise, but the brain’s response to certain sounds and frequencies can drown out other noises.

Rain is a common option for people struggling to sleep in noisy environments. So, even if you’re not keen on downloading apps, head over to youtube and search for some sounds for sleeping. You’ll come across thunderstorms, aquarium sounds, rainforest rain sounds (which you can listen to below), and much more.

Play some binaural beats

If you are looking for a good source of sound to help you fall asleep, then your best bet is to get a binaural beat recording. Binaural beats have been shown to have great effects on the body and can be used as a natural way to induce sleep. You can find plenty of binaural beats online.

Not only will this recording track help you fall asleep, but it will also induce a trance-like state. This is the stage that helps people fall into a deeper sleep quickly and helps them engage in deep meditation that is beneficial to the body and mind.

Below is an excellent choice of binaural beat video from YouTube which targets the correct frequency for deep sleep.

Leave the television on

If you find that you can fall asleep with the television on, my best advice is to continue doing it. Television shows often have a soothing effect on most people and can be great for enhancing your relaxation. If you find that the television helps you fall asleep or reduces stress in any way, then keep it on but do not put it on music channels. These will only disrupt the natural sleep process.

Listen to some soothing music

Even if you don’t normally listen to music in bed, it could be helpful to have some kind of soothing background noise playing. Make sure that the volume is not too high and that the music you hear is not too loud or distracting.

Some people can fall asleep while listening to music, especially if they are playing music that they really like. Others can fall asleep while listening to a person talking, but only if the volume is right and the speaker is on the right channel, but others still might find that any noise will keep them awake at night. The key is to experiment and find out what works best for you.

Experiment with earplugs

There are many different ways of blocking out unwanted noise when you are trying to sleep. If you want to block out sound completely, then earplugs are your best bet (if they don’t hurt your ears or cause discomfort).

Earplugs are the oldest and most common way to deal with outside noise, but not everybody likes them. You need to find the right ones: silicone or foam, small or large, one or two pairs? These questions must be answered first before you can go out and buy earplugs. They come in different shapes and sizes; some will fit better in your ears than others. Earplugs that are too big are uncomfortable and can’t be used for very long. For some people the feeling of something in the ear canal is uncomfortable, so they need plugs that fit comfortably all night long.

Use a fan or air conditioning unit

If you live in a warm climate, keeping the fan on is a great way of drowning out noise pollution you might hear while asleep. The fan will always create a certain amount of white noise, which will help distract you from any other noises in your sleep environment.

Some people prefer to keep their air conditioner on for the same reason. This can be helpful if you find a lot of noise coming from the street or if there is traffic outside that keeps you up at night. There are many different types and brands of air conditioning units, and it really depends on what brand you choose as to what kind of sound they will create.


It is always good to experiment with different things to see what helps you fall asleep in a noisy environment. So if your sleep is affected by too much background noise, try some of these techniques I have mentioned above and see which one works best for you. There is no single method that works for everyone, so keep trying different things until you find the best way for you.

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