how to sleep through traffic noise
Sleep Problems

17 Ways to Block Out Road and Traffic Noise in Your Bedroom

(Last Updated On: January 22, 2023)

If you live in a city or busy town, traffic sounds outside a bedroom window can keep you up at night. Reducing road noise in the house is often critical to getting a good night’s sleep.

Block traffic noise in your bedroom with soundproofing. Hang thick curtains, insulate walls, and double-glaze the windows. Fight sound with sounds, like music or white noise, or block it out with earplugs.

If necessary, sleep in another room to avoid the noise.

Traffic noise is a fact of life in the modern world, but there’s no need to suffer in silence or move home to a quieter locale. You’ll need to adapt your sleeping quarters to avoid road noise at night.

How To Block Out Road Noise in Bedrooms

If you’ve spent your entire life in a big city, you’ll likely consider car horns, sirens, and engines the soundtrack of your sleep. If you’re not used to loud noise, street sounds can ruin your sleep.

Nobody can stop street noise as it’s part and parcel of living in the 21st Century. However, if traffic keeps you up at night, consider these ways to improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep:

1/ Sleep Hygiene Improvements

You need to develop good habits before bed, starting with sleep hygiene.

Follow these protocols before you start addressing the noise that’s disturbing your sleep at night:

  • Heading to bed at a similar time every evening.
  • Allowing a bedroom to cool down before getting into bed. As per Building and Environment, room temperature has a sizable impact on sleep quality.
  • Not engaging with electronic devices or screens for around an hour before bed, like not sleeping next to a laptop.
  • Allowing sufficient time to digest an evening meal before attempting to sleep.
  • Consider taking a shower to aid sleepiness.

The more efficient and reliable your sleep hygiene, the likelier you are to doze off before traffic noise becomes a problem. If you can fall asleep before you notice the noise outside, you’ll likely remain asleep.

2/ Close the Windows

If your windows are open at night, you may as well be sleeping outside on the street because you’re welcoming the din of the outside world into your bedroom sanctuary.

It may be less than ideal to sleep with the windows closed during the summer, especially if you don’t have air conditioning. There are ways to stay cool in bed without AC, though.

3/Double-Glazed Windows

If you own your property and have the financial reach to undertake such an upgrade, seriously consider double-glazing your windows. While double-glazing isn’t completely soundproof, it can reduce the volume of external noise by over 30 decibels.

When soundwaves hit a single-glazed window, there’s practically nothing to prevent the noise from entering a room. The sound will vibrate upon touching the windowpane, and the racket reaches your ears without attempting to block it.

Double-glazed windows add an extra sheet of glass between the two window panes. As a result, the vibrations of the interior window are drastically reduced. As we said, it’s not 100% soundproof, but it turns the volume down significantly.

influence of traffic noise on sleep

4/ Blackout Blinds or Curtains

Blackout blinds and curtains are most regarded as ways to keep light pollution out of a bedroom, and they’re also effective at blocking sound. Drawing a pair of curtains or pulling a blind may be the key to a peaceful night’s sleep.

If you shop around, you’ll find curtains explicitly designed for soundproofing. These will be made from thick textiles that block and muffle sound, keeping it from your ears at night.

5/ Repair Holes and Cracks in Bedroom Walls

Look at your bedroom walls, especially if you have plaster or drywall.

Small holes and cracks may have started to appear over time. Don’t write these off as aesthetic imperfections to be ignored because they may allow noise into the room.

You’ll need the services of a tradesperson for major cracks. You may be surprised at how efficient patching up cracks and holes with a pot of quick-drying plaster from a hardware store can be, though. 

Pay attention to cracks around your windows. Over time, small gaps may appear between the bottom of a windowpane and a window ledge. Sealing these can make all the difference to bedroom noise.

6/ DIY Soundproofing

Once you’ve confirmed there are no apparent cracks or holes in your bedroom walls and all windows are closed, you can embark on a little DIY soundproofing. This will not be as effective as formally insulating your room, but it’s a start.

Ways to soundproof a bedroom using everyday items include:

  • Placing rolled-up towels in front of doors
  • Lay rugs and mats on floors wherever possible
  • Cover any air vents that allow sound in

Every room is different, and you may need a little trial and error before you find the perfect solution.

7/ Rearrange Bedroom Furniture and Décor

Think about whether the layout of your bedroom furniture allows external noise into your room. The consideration here is the proximity of your bed to a window, but there’s more to think about.

Are there mirrors in your room, and where are they positioned? Mirrors reflect noise just as efficiently as light. If you have mirrors facing a window, you welcome loud echoes into your room. Relocate – or better yet, avoid – wall-mounted reflective surfaces.

Strategically cover your walls as much as possible, too. While you obviously cannot block a window, you can muffle noise from external walls.

Hang some art or apply stacked bookcases to your walls to create a sound barrier.

8/ Wear Earplugs

Providing you find them comfortable, another classic solution to external noise is wearing earplugs.

If you find the right set of these peripherals, you can muffle traffic sounds at worst – ideally, completely block them out.

The only issue here is that earplugs can remove any trace of sound, period. For example, consider if you can still hear a fire alarm while wearing earplugs.

9/ Listen to Music

In the age of the smartphone and streaming apps, we’re never far from a music library. This means you could block out the sounds of the street by enjoying your favorite tunes.

Listening to music in bed is not for everybody, though. You’ll need to ensure you choose music that soothes and relaxes you, not something that gets your blood pumping. You could try audiobooks instead, but don’t get so wrapped up in a story that you’re up late.

You’ll also need to consider the logistics of his approach. Can you wear headphones safely without tangling yourself up in wires and cables? If you wear wireless earphones, can you be sure you won’t expose yourself to radiation?

10/ White Noise

A white noise machine is an alternative to listening to music.

As discussed, music can have the opposite effect and potentially wake you up, not lull you to sleep. A white noise machine will block out unwelcome external sounds.

Despite the name, a white noise machine won’t necessarily be limited to releasing generic noises akin to electrical appliances. Many models come with various audio options, such as rainfall, thunderstorms, ocean waves – whatever you find relaxing.

You may still need to train your brain to block background noise when using a white noise machine. The presence of an alternative sound to focus on makes this much more straightforward.

11/ Meditation

Consider a complete sensory shutdown if you aren’t keen on fighting noise with more noise. You can block out the noise around you and find yourself through meditation.

Meditation can be tough to master, especially when surrounded by noise. It’s rarely easy to completely block out external stimulus, especially when it’s near-constant. That’s why it’s called practicing meditation, as it takes time and effort.

Frontiers in Neurology confirms that meditation can influence sleep and help you enter a state of slumber. It’s certainly worth trying as an element of your sleep hygiene routine.

If you learn to indulge in this exercise, you’ll barely notice road noise again.

12/ Block Noise in the Yard

If you have a yard that faces traffic, you may be able to block and mask external noise with some strategic gardening. You can create a noise barrier that traps sound waves and brings color and beauty to your yard.

Bushes, shrubs, and trees are ideal, but they take time to grow, so consider installing a tall fence if you need a faster response.

By making these adjustments, you’ll need to ensure you’re not contravening any safety laws – local or federal. Check with your neighbors to avoid causing a dispute, too.

13/ Bedroom Insulation

Interior insulation of a bedroom for noise protection is often cheaper than you may realize.

Head to your local hardware store and investigate soundproofing boards, foam, or wallpaper. Any of these solutions can be applied to the walls of your bedroom.

These additions will trap any sound that hits a wall, drastically reducing its volume and preventing traffic noise from keeping you up. A DIY solution will not offer complete silence, but it’ll increase the likelihood of falling asleep, especially when paired with other solutions.

how to drown out traffic noise while sleeping

14/ Attic Insulation

While insulating your bedroom, don’t neglect the attic space.

Just because you don’t sleep or relax in an attic doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Road noise will still reach this room and cause echoes and reverberations, which may be felt in the bedroom below.

15/ Sleep in a Different Room

The road outside your house isn’t going to move. With this in mind, you may need to show a little flexibility. That doesn’t mean moving house because you could sleep in a different bedroom.

If the front of your home faces a road, try remodeling a room at the back of the house as a bedroom. If downstairs is quieter than upstairs, sleep on the ground floor and use the first floor for entertaining.

It can be a pain to alter the layout of your house, especially if you need to bring in the services of electricians, plumbers, and other tradesmen to accommodate these changes.

If it helps you sleep better, any short-term frustration is worthwhile.

16/ Desensitization from Traffic Noise

The more you’re exposed to traffic and road noise, the less it’ll eventually bother you.

To this end, consider listening to recordings of road traffic in your waking hours, such as while taking a shower or preparing dinner.

At first, this will be annoying; over time, it’ll become the soundtrack to your life. Then, you’ll stop noticing it, even at night when you’re trying to sleep.

17/ Sleep Schedule Adjustment

If you can, consider changing your sleep schedule. If the roads outside your home are quieter at certain times of the day than others, catch up with your sleep then.

As mentioned, this won’t work for everybody. Work, family, and social commitments may get in the way, and you may struggle to defy your body’s natural circadian rhythms.

Traffic sounds can be a significant barrier to sleep for many people. There’s nothing to gain by gritting your teeth and trying to sleep through a cacophony of noise outside your window. Do whatever it takes to block frustrating road noise from outside your home.