What keeps you up at night? If it's car honking, upstairs neighbors with lead feet, the roar of planes from a nearby airport or some other type of din, it's time to quiet things down. The noise could be disrupting your sleep enough to harm your health and wreck your productivity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who sleep less than seven hours each night are at increased risk for a host of problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and mental distress. What’s more, a German study linked night noises — specifically from traffic, trains and planes — with hampered performances on tasks the next morning.
Related: America, Home of the Sleep-Deprived?
If you’re sleeping less than soundly because of, well, outside sounds, here are 11 ways to block out the noise and turn your bedroom into a quiet retreat.
Switch to solid-core doors. The inside is made from pressed particle wood. These doors are heavier even than doors made from a single wooden slab, so they muffle sound better, says Sean Juneja, cofounder of DecorAid, an international interior-design firm. They aren't much pricier either.
Opt for acoustic windows. Juneja says they're specially constructed and glazed to block traffic noise and other noise coming from outside. They also can lower heating and cooling bills, too.
Treat your windows to heavyweight drapes. Velvet does a great job of soaking up sound, says Juneja. You also can buy curtains with foam backing to absorb more of the racket coming from outdoors. Bonuses: These curtains make your bedroom nice and dark when they’re drawn, and are another way to help cut energy bills.
Related: 11 Easy Ways to Save Energy This Summer
Hang a curtain from the ceiling. Seriously. “A ceiling-mounted drape on one wall, with your bed placed against it, adds additional drama along with soundproofing,” says Juneja.
Put in some plush furniture. Upholstered chairs, sofas, ottomans and storage benches will all help absorb sound.
Plump up your pillow collection. Think of bed and throw pillows as decorative sound wave sponges.
Plug up sound leaks around the room. Pick a peak noise hour, then walk around your room, listening to where the noise is coming from. Is there a windowsill or sliding door that needs a little extra caulk? A noisy corner that could benefit from having a nice plush recliner against it? “Sometimes there’s a very specific area that, if you address it, can make all the difference,” says Juneja.
Don’t forget your floors. If you have a choice, opt for hardwood over tile, which tends to conduct noise and echo, says Juneja. “And put down an area rug, which can absorb a lot of sound waves.” Although wall-to-wall carpeting isn’t trendy, consider that option, too.
Have a no-shoes policy in your home. If you live with a night owl or your work schedule means you need to sleep while the rest of the household is awake, make it rule that everyone stay in stocking feet or wear soft-sole slippers indoors.
Related: 5 Bedtime Snacks That Could Coax You to Sleep
Use earplugs. Done all you can do to the room? There’s always this option. “I discovered custom earplugs ten years ago and they are wonderful,” says Monique M.C. Prince, of Chester, New Hampshire. Check to see if your local hearing aid store offers them. “They’re made from a type of soft foam that conforms to your ear,” Prince explains.
Try a white noise machine or app. If you can’t block enough noise, distract yourself from it with a machine that makes a soothing, constant noise, or try an white-noise app. “I like the app White Noise Baby, and it’s free,” says Vicky O’Grady, of Maitland, Florida. She’s a mental health counselor who has many patients with sensory processing disorder, which makes them hypersensitive to noise. “The app has many options of sounds, from high to low, and you can download it onto any computer or phone,” she says.
Related: Listen Up! These Apps Can Help Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
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