How to Sleep with Noisy Roommates

Got an obnoxious roommate keeping you up at all hours of the night? It can be frustrating to deal with disrespect in your own home, especially when it costs you precious shut-eye. Luckily, there are plenty of options here—both in terms of quick fixes and long-term solutions. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about drowning out loud roommates so that you can wake up feeling alert and refreshed. We’ll also walk you through how to approach your roommates to amicably handle the situation.


[Edit]Turn on a white noise machine to wash out the sound.

  1. Background sound can drown out the noise and help you get some rest. Buy a white noise machine or get an alarm clock with a white noise function. There are also white noise apps for your phone if you need a solution right now. Turn the white noise on so that it sits at a volume where it drowns out your obnoxious roommate without keeping you up.[1]
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    • Popular white noise options include the sound of rain, calming winds, rustling leaves, or humming notes. Choose whichever sound you find the most calming.
    • Some people actually have a harder time falling asleep with noise. If the white noise makes the problem worse, don’t force it. There are other solutions here.
    • You can find a variety of highly-rated white noise machines here.

[Edit]Run a fan or humidifier to sleep comfortably.

  1. The white noise combined with a better sleep environment can do wonders. A fan, air purifier, or humidifier will make a decent amount of background noise to help mask your roommate’s shenanigans. On top of that, the cool air from the fan or the more comfortable and breathable air should make it significantly easier to lull yourself to sleep.[2]
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    • You can even use a combination of a white noise machine and a fan to really improve your overall sleep environment.
    • Mixing multiple forms of white noise may be less distracting for you if you find the single source of white noise a little annoying.
    • Here are some solid options if you’re looking for a well-reviewed fan, air purifier, or humidifier.

[Edit]Open a window to introduce background noise and fresh air.

  1. The fresh air and ambient noise may help you snooze if the weather is nice. There’s no real replacement for cool, fresh air. If you live in a rural area, the bullfrogs and crickets may help you fall asleep. In a bustling city, the background sound of traffic, sirens, and occasional horn can keep you from focusing on your roommate’s noise.[3]
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    • If the weather isn’t nice, you may still be able to open your window a few inches to let in at least some ambient noise.
    • If the temperature changes radically overnight where you live, sleep with an extra blanket just in case you get too cold.

[Edit]Put some headphones on to listen to something soothing.

  1. Throw on some calming jazz or a quiet podcast to shift your focus. If you want to totally drown out your roommate’s nonsense while snoozing off to some background sounds, throw on some headphones and play some soft, relaxing music. Alternatively, you can play a podcast or listen to an audiobook if you find music a little too distracting.[4]
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    • Over-the-ear headphones are probably better than earbuds for this, but you’ll have to sleep on your back or stomach.
    • ASMR (audio tracks built around whispers and other low-frequency sounds) is deeply relaxing for a lot of people.
    • Any pair of headphones will do the job so long as you’re listening to something, but you might want to look for some noise-cancelling headphones if you really want to drown your roommates out.

[Edit]Use earplugs to block the noise entirely.

  1. Pop in some foam earplugs if you hate sleeping with noise. Some people loathe sleeping with any kind of background noise at all. If this is you, don’t worry. Earplugs should help block out your inconsiderate roommate’s noisy behavior. If you don’t have any earplugs, swing by your local corner store or pharmacy. They usually sell disposable ear plugs for a few dollars behind the counter.[5]
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    • If you like the disposable earplugs and this solution works for you, buy some reusable molded ear plugs. They’ll be cheaper in the long run, and you’ll likely find them more comfortable.
    • Some people find the feeling of earplugs a little distracting. If they bother you at first, wait 15-20 minutes before taking them out. Most people get used to the feeling relatively quickly.

[Edit]Soundproof your room to make it quieter.

  1. Strategically place some towels and blankets or buy soundproofing foam. If sound is bleeding through your door, hang a blanket over it with tape and stuff a towel over the gap between the floor and the bottom of the door. Lay out blankets and towels around the room to absorb noise. For a longer-term solution, consider hanging soundproofing foam along the walls to absorb noise.[6]
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    • The softer the surfaces in a room, the easier it will be for your space to absorb soundwaves. Even a few loose pillows and a rug will help out.
    • If you don’t like the look of soundproofing foam, you can always hang a tapestry or two on the wall.
    • You can buy soundproofing foam in bulk here.

[Edit]Hang soundproof curtains around your bed.

  1. Create a canopy using soundproof curtains to block out noise. Purchase enough soundproof curtains to surround your bed. If you don’t have a canopy bed frame, buy one or hang hooks from your ceiling to hang the curtains. When it’s time to go to bed, slide the curtains around your mattress entirely to create your own little silent sleeping space.[7]
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    • You can hang the curtains from a curtain rod above the window in your room if your roommates make a lot of noise outside or you want more soundproofing in your room.[8]
    • If you don’t want to hang curtains, you can get a room divider and hang soundproofing foam on it. When it’s time to go to sleep, simply place the divider between you and the door.
    • There are plenty of beautiful and efficient soundproof curtains available here.

[Edit]Rearrange your room to block out noise and light.

  1. Move a few things around to build an anti-sound and light-blocking bunker. The shape of your room can dramatically influence how you sleep. Try moving your bed further away from the door, and angle it so that ambient light from the window doesn’t reach you. If possible, but a dresser or armoire in between your bed and the door for additional protection from sound.[9]
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    • The more distance and the more obstacles between you and the ambient light and sound, the easier it will be to sleep.

[Edit]Take a melatonin supplement or sleep aid.

  1. If you really can’t sleep, OTC sleep aids or melatonin are a safe, quick fix. Melatonin is a natural option when it comes to falling asleep, but it does tend to take regular usage to start working. Still, you can take 1 mg to see if it helps and work up from there if this is a regular issue.[10] OTC sleep medications (like diphenhydramine) can help put you to sleep if you want something a little faster-working. Follow the directions on the container to take an appropriate dose.[11]
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    • Do not take more than 10 mg of melatonin.[12]
    • Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about taking medication to sleep.
    • If you have asthma, glaucoma, COPD, sleep apnea, or liver disease, do not take OTC sleep medication.

[Edit]Improve your sleep routine.

  1. Regulating your sleep schedule will make it a lot easier to fall asleep. If you roommates are reasonably noisy but it’s bothering you because your sleep schedule is out of whack, fixing that should change things dramatically. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day and don’t nap to keep your circadian rhythm well-regulated.[13]
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    • This can be especially difficult if you’re in college. An uneven course schedule and late-night study sessions can make things tough. Try to minimize the all-nighters.
    • Don’t drink any caffeine after noon and eat dinner 2-3 hours before going to bed so that you don’t go to bed stuffed or super hungry.
    • Exercising daily can make it easier to fall asleep at night. You’ll also feel better if you engage in regular physical activity!

[Edit]Drink some herbal tea before bed to help you relax.

  1. A warm glass of chamomile or valerian tea can help your body relax. Un-caffeinated herbal tea is an excellent treat before bed if you want to relax. Chamomile is an especially popular option that many tea enthusiasts find calming before bed.[14] For an earthier flavor, brew a cup of valerian tea instead. Both chamomile and valerian have proven benefits when it comes to relaxing and falling asleep.[15]
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    • This may not help with the noisy roommate on its own, but it might soothe any anger you’re feeling towards them in the moment!
    • If you aren’t a tea fan, you could try taking a valerian supplement. However, the valerian supplements may not be as effective as valerian tea.[16]

[Edit]Swap rooms with a roommate to get further from the noise.

  1. If your bedroom is near a common area, ask a roommate to switch. A bedroom that’s close to the living room or kitchen can be a little noisy if your roommates stay up later than you. If your home has a bedroom that’s a little further away from the busy areas, ask the current occupant if they’d be willing to switch with you.[17]
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    • The further you get from the loud areas of your home, the less impactful the noise should be.
    • Just ask your roommate something like, “Hey, I know you stay out later than me, and that’s no biggie, but would you consider switching rooms with me? I keep waking up when you get home.”

[Edit]Talk to your roommates about potential solutions.

  1. If you haven’t had an open discussion with your roommate, do that first. Talk to your roommate about what’s going on. They shouldn’t take it the wrong way if you approach the topic respectfully and you ask them nicely to keep it down. You might request that they cut the noise out when you’re asleep, or come up with a household agreement on quiet hours.[18]
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    • You could approach them and say, “Hey, I’ve kind of had a tough time falling asleep lately. I know you aren’t doing anything wrong, but would you mind turning the music down after 9 pm?”
    • If they’re watching TV or playing loud music, you might ask them to wear headphones.
    • If this is a perpetual problem, you may be better off looking for a new apartment or talking to an RA about switching dorms.