Traffic noise is distracting and irritating — especially in your home, where you want to feel peaceful and comfortable. However, living with earplugs in a crowded or busy street can be frustrating when you’re trying to have a good night’s sleep or simply read a book. What are other approaches you can take to block out noise in your bedroom?
You can block out noise in your bedroom by soundproofing your windows, sealing gaps and cracks, installing thick walls, and wearing earplugs. You can also improve your sleeping habits, listen to white noise, and practice meditation.
Noise can easily pass through your home’s windows, doors, and gaps. The good news is there are many budget-friendly ways to soundproof your house. Keep reading to learn a few tips you may incorporate in your house or bedroom.
1. Ensure Your Bedroom Windows Are Soundproof
Windows are the thinnest barrier between your home and the outside world. As a result, they let in a lot of noise into your home. Soundproofing your windows will make a great difference in reducing traffic noise.
You can soundproof your windows in four different ways:
- Seal any gaps around the window with acoustic caulk. It is a very affordable solution and dramatically reduces the noise getting into your room.
- Add a barrier between your window and the outside street. Planting a shrub or putting up a fence are two common ways to achieve this, but anything can work.
- Purchase acoustic curtains. They look just like standard curtains but have soundproofing properties. They’re straightforward to install and come in various colors and designs, so you can pick one that matches the style of your room. They’re also helpful with blocking unwanted light.
- Replace your panes with double-pane or triple-pane windows. Single-pane windows have less material than the other two, allowing more noise to enter your room. Triple-pane windows are the most expensive, but they are a great investment.
- Build a window plug. Read this article for more information on how to build it yourself.
Inspect your bedroom walls to ensure there are no gaps or cracks that may let in sound from outside. If you find any, seal the gaps with acoustic sealant.
First, you want to check the condition of your walls. If the walls in question are still under construction, you’ll be able to see the studs without removing anything. However, when working with already built walls, you’ll probably have to remove the drywall using a knife. Then you’ll see the empty studs. These empty spaces allow sound to travel more easily through walls.
All that’s left is installing wall insulation inside the studs. I recommend using mass-loaded vinyl, a high-density material effective in soundproofing. The denser a material is, the more effective it will be at blocking out noise.
You may also increase the thickness of the wall. You can achieve this by putting up or adding another layer of drywall. Adding layers increases density and mass, allowing less sound to get through.
Windows and doors are less effective than walls as sound barriers, so a lot of consideration has to be put into improving them. You can upgrade your current door by making it thicker or replace it with a thicker door.
If there’s a space between the floor and the door, seal it using door traps or even cover it with a cloth or blanket.
You can purchase acoustic panels or sound-absorbing blankets and cover your door with them. These blankets are made from fiberglass, which is good for absorbing sound. They are easy to install — all you need to do is hang them on the door.
Sealing cracks and gaps hugely contributes to noise reduction. It’s something worth checking out before moving on to more costly solutions.
The best way to deal with crackas and gaps is to apply acoustic caulks. Soundproof caulk doesn’t shrink after it dries, which would cause further cracks.
I recommend the BOSS 826 Acoustical Sound Sealant (available on Amazon). This sealant is non-flammable and latex based, which means it will not harden inside its tube as time passes. It’s also cheap and easy to clean.
The easiest way to seal gaps around doors is through weatherstripping. If your door already has weatherstripping, it might be too worn out to do its job correctly. In that case, you should remove it, clean the door frame and replace the stripping.
If there’s a gap between the door and the floor, get yourself a door sweep. Door sweeps have additional benefits, like keeping insects and dust away. They also keep the house warm. You can use blankets or mats as an alternative, but a door sweep is more effective.
There are several ways to landscape your home to reduce noise from the outside. The most common strategy is planting trees and hedges around your house.
Plants are a cheap, natural way of reducing noise transmission in your home. Plant dense hedges and ensure the branches grow to the ground to avoid gaps.
An interesting alternative is installing a water fountain. Although this doesn’t do anything to block out noise, the sound of running water can drown out traffic noise and soothe your mind while you try to sleep.
You can also plant trees with big leaves that rustle against the breeze. Like running water, the rustle of leaves creates a soothing sound.
7. Use Your Furniture to Block Out the Noise
You can optimize furniture placement in your room to reduce traffic noise.
For example, suppose your bedroom faces a street. You can move your cupboard or shelf to that wall to add an extra layer between the outside and your room. This is a very cheap and effective way to control sound transmission.
You may also replace hard furnishings with soft furnishings. Sound waves retain more of their energy when they bounce against hard furnishings. For example, you could replace hard seats with cushions.
Lastly, you could purchase noise barrier mats. It allows you to soundproof a large area without renovating or adding too many things to your space. However, you will need professional assistance during installation to ensure it’s done correctly.
8. Install Thick Wallpapers on Your Bedroom Walls
Soundproof wallpapers have become very popular over the last few years. They need no construction work, cause no mess, and can be very stylish thanks to their many design options. Wallpapers are a modern and beautiful way of soundproofing your room.
This option is especially enticing for those who are renting their space, as they can’t tear down or renovate. You can remove wallpaper without causing any damage to the walls.
Wallpapers may appear thin, but they are made of several layers that help with soundproofing. Wallpapers alone may not be enough to block traffic noise, but along with other soundproofing methods, it’s a great addition.
You can prevent traffic noise from ruining your night by changing your activities before jumping into bed.
Developing healthy sleep hygiene habits is one of the most effective ways of improving your chances of getting a whole night’s rest.
Creating good sleep hygiene involves changing your pre-bed routine, daily schedule, and sleeping conditions in order to make sleep come naturally to you. Here are some of its key components:
- Set a sleep schedule. This schedule should have a fixed wake-up time and limit the number of naps you can have in a day. A fixed sleep schedule helps your body and brain to adapt to the total amount of sleeping time you need.
- Follow a nightly routine. Following a single nightly routine can train your mind to know that it’s time to sleep. Wear your pajamas, brush your teeth, or read a book at the same time every night, and soon enough, your brain will quickly take a cue.
- Initiate a healthy daily routine. Some daily routines are detrimental to our circadian rhythm, which is responsible for running our sleep-wake cycles. Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption and avoid late dinners to keep your circadian rhythm in check.
- Make your bedroom comfortable. Ensure you have a comfortable pillow, mattress, and bedding in your room. Set a cool but comfortable temperature in your room, as it is difficult to have good quality sleep in a hot environment.
- Avoid seeing screens before sleep. Screens in smartphones and laptops emit a bright light that can disrupt your circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep. Try to ditch your smartphone at least an hour before you go to sleep.
These tips should improve your sleeping patterns in the short and long term.
Some people let their windows stay open all night long in order to improve airflow in the room. This reduces the temperature, decreases the volume of carbon dioxide in the air, improves ventilation, and gets rid of odors trapped in the room. This is especially common during the summer months.
However, open windows can be a nightmare for people living next to a highway or street. It allows all the noise, odors, and fumes from the streets into your bedroom. This creates an environment unsuitable for a good night’s sleep, and you will struggle to cope. Always close your windows and, if possible, use air conditioning during summer.
There are curtains and blinds specifically designed to block light from the outside. You’ll fall asleep faster when there is less light in your bedroom, especially if vehicle lights constantly wake you up.
Light hinders the production of melatonin, a hormone that facilitates sleep in the human body. That’s why a dark environment is crucial for a good night’s sleep.
I recommend the Redi Pleated Paper Shades (available on Amazon.com). The blinds are easily customizable to fit your windows. They also reduce energy costs by limiting the amount of sunlight that enters the room.
12. Wear Noise-Canceling Earplugs
Earplugs are a well-known solution for blocking out external noises. They can also help you sleep, provided you find them comfortable. Many types of earplugs are available in the market, and some of them are capable of eliminating all noise.
If you manage to block out traffic noise with earplugs, you will probably fall asleep in less time and enjoy a quality sleep without interruptions. However, experts often warn people against using earplugs that eliminate all noise, as you may miss essential sounds like your fire alarm. It would be wiser to use earplugs that only muffle sounds.
13. Listen to Your Favorite Music
People can find their sleep in different ways. While some people need silence, others prefer to listen to something soothing to fall asleep. If you fall in the latter category, you can block traffic noise by listening to some of your favorite songs, podcasts, audiobooks, or even someone else’s voice.
Experts recommend choosing soothing content that can calm your body and mind. Some music can cause the opposite effect and excite your body, keeping you up longer than necessary. Consider audiobooks or podcasts as an alternative to high-energy music.
See also: How to Sleep With Headphones
14. Listen to White Noise
Some people fall asleep more easily when they listen to white noise instead of music and audiobooks. White noise, also called broadband noise, contains all audible frequencies in equal measure. There are many apps and even specialized machines that create white noise and manage to block out high levels of environmental noise.
These machines and apps often come with various noise options such as rainfall, thunderstorms, ocean waves, whirring fans, television static, and humming air conditioners. If you can focus on this noise, your brain will learn to ignore background traffic noises.
15. Meditate Before Going to Bed
Some people find it impossible to block noise with more noise, even if it’s white noise. Luckily, there are other interventions that don’t involve adding more sound. One of the most effective ones is meditation.
Meditation is a relaxation method that can enhance inner bodily peace by quieting the body and mind. You can start practicing meditation every day before bed, and you will experience less insomnia and other sleeping troubles in good time.
There are many approaches to meditation, from religious practice to mindfulness apps. However, they usually have a few things in common:
- Try to find a calm and quiet place. If you can find a quiet place in your home, then at least try to make yourself comfortable.
- Focus on your breath. Some guided meditations will take you through deep breaths before settling into a natural rhythm.
- Allow thoughts to pass through your mind. Meditation is not about shutting yourself off: it’s about acknowledging the feelings and thoughts that come to your mind and letting them go.
- Bring back your attention as it drifts away. The specifics vary with each type of meditation, but one thing is constant: unless you’re an expert, your attention will constantly try to drift away. This is fine—instead of fighting it, gently bring it back to your breath, a part of your body, or whatever it is you’re focusing on. Meditation is precisely about this ebb and flow of attention.
If you have tried everything and simply can’t fall asleep, you might want to reconsider where you sleep. You could try to wind down in a room that’s farther from the traffic noises and move to your bedroom once you’re sleepy enough.
Alternatively, you can make permanent changes such as remodeling your house or changing rooms, but all these depend on your financial ability and how frustrated you are with the noises.
There’s a chance that after being exposed to traffic noises for a long time, they will stop bothering you. While this may not be the solution many people are looking for and may take a long time, it is also the cheapest. You can consider expediting the process by adopting various mechanisms such as:
- Listening to recordings of traffic noises while doing things you enjoy doing.
- Gradually increase the volume and length of time exposed to these sounds.
- Do breathing exercises to lower your stress levels.
If you believe you’re excessively sensitive to noise, you may suffer from misophonia. In that case, the best you can do is talk to a professional. They will guide you through options for therapy and protocols to cope with your sensitivity.
There are many ways of drowning out traffic noise, and they all have varying results. Even if you live next to a busy highway, there are several things you can try:
- Improve your sleeping habits before and after getting into bed.
- Practice meditation to calm your body and mind.
- Invest in blackout curtains, blinds, or noise-canceling earplugs.
- Find alternative noises to listen to while in bed.
- Cover any gaps around your windows and doors.
- Install soundproofing material on your walls.
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