how to sleep through traffic noise
Sleep Problems

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

Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Louise Carter

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 home is often critical to getting a good night’s sleep.

Block traffic noise in the 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.

Sleep in another room to avoid the noise of passing cars if necessary.

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. However, you must 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. Street sounds can ruin your rest if you’re not used to loud noise.

Nobody can stop street noise because it’s part and parcel of living in the 21st Century. However, if traffic keeps you up at night, consider these ways to get a better night’s sleep:

Sleep Hygiene

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

Follow these protocols before you start addressing the noise disturbing your sleep:

  • Head to bed at a similar time each evening.
  • Allow the bedroom to cool down before getting into bed. According to Building and Environment, room temperature has a sizable impact on sleep quality.
  • No electronic devices or screens for around 1 hour before bed, like not sleeping next to a laptop.
  • Allow sufficient time to digest an evening meal before attempting to sleep.
  • Consider taking a shower to aid sleepiness.

The better your sleep hygiene, the likelier you are to doze off before traffic noise becomes problematic. If you can fall asleep before you notice the noise outside, you’ll likely remain asleep.

Close the Windows

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

Sleep with the windows closed during the summer may be less than ideal, especially if you lack air conditioning. However, there are ways to stay cool in bed without AC.

Double-Glazed Windows

If you own your property, consider getting double-glazing. While it isn’t entirely soundproof, it can reduce external noise by over 30 decibels.

When soundwaves hit a single-glazed window, there’s practically nothing to prevent the noise.

Double-glazed windows add an extra sheet of glass between the two window panes, drastically reducing the vibrations of the interior window.

influence of traffic noise on sleep

Blackout Blinds or Curtains

Blackout blinds and curtains are usually considered a way to keep light pollution out of a bedroom. However, they’re also effective at blocking sound.

There are curtains designed for soundproofing. These will be made from thick textiles that block and muffle sound, allowing you to sleep without road traffic disturbances at night.

Repair Holes and Cracks in Bedroom Walls

Examine 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.

For significant cracks, you’ll need the services of a tradesperson. However, 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. 

Pay particular attention to cracks around the windows. Over time, small gaps may appear between the bottom of a windowpane and a window ledge. Sealing them reduces traffic noise in a bedroom.

DIY Soundproofing

DIY soundproofing isn’t 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.
  • Laying rugs and mats on floors.
  • Covering air vents that allow sound in.

Every room is different, so some trial and error will be involved.

Rearrange Bedroom Furniture and Décor

Consider whether the layout of bedroom furniture allows external noise into your room. The primary consideration is the proximity of a bed to the window.

Are there mirrors in your room, and where are they positioned? Mirrors reflect noise as efficiently as light. If you have mirrors facing a window, you’ll have loud echoes in your room.

Relocate – or better yet, avoid – wall-mounted reflective surfaces.

Strategically cover walls. While you obviously can’t 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.

Wear Earplugs

Block external noise with earplugs. If you find the right pair, you can block traffic sounds. The main issue is that earplugs can remove all noise, including fire alarms.

Listen to Music

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

You must choose music that soothes and relaxes you, not something that gets your blood pumping. You could try audiobooks, but don’t get so wrapped up in a story that you stay up late.

You’ll also need to consider the logistics of this approach.

Can you safely wear headphones without tangling yourself with wires and cables? If you wear wireless earphones, can you be sure you won’t expose yourself to radiation?

White Noise

A white noise machine will block out unwelcome external sounds. Despite its name, a white noise machine won’t necessarily be limited to releasing generic noises, such as those of electrical appliances.

Most models have audio options, like rainfall, thunderstorms, and ocean waves.

If you use a white noise machine, you may still need to train the brain to block background noise. The presence of an alternative sound to focus on makes this easier.

Meditation

If you aren’t keen on fighting noise with more noise, consider a complete sensory shutdown. Through meditation, you can block out the noise around you and find yourself.

Meditation can be harder to master, especially when surrounded by noise.

It’s seldom 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 stated that meditation can influence sleep and help you enter a restful state.

Block Noise in the Yard

If your yard faces traffic, block external noise with strategic yardwork. You can create a noise barrier that traps sound waves and brings color and beauty to your outside space.

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

Before making these adjustments, ensure you’re not contravening safety laws. Also, check with neighbors to avoid causing animosity or legal disputes.

Bedroom Insulation

The interior insulation of a bedroom for noise protection is less expensive than you may realize.

Consider using soundproofing boards, foam, or wallpaper from a local hardware store. All of these solutions can be applied to the walls of a 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 won’t offer complete silence, but it’ll increase the likelihood of falling asleep.

how to drown out traffic noise while sleeping

Attic Insulation

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

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

Sleep in a Different Room

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

Altering the layout of your house can be a pain, especially if you need to hire electricians, plumbers, and other tradesmen to accommodate these changes.

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.

At first, this will be frustrating. Over time, it’ll become the soundtrack to your life. Then, you’ll stop noticing road traffic noise pollution, even at night when you’re attempting to sleep.

Sleep Schedule Adjustment

Consider modifying your sleep schedule. If the roads outside your home are quieter at certain times of the day and night than others, catch up on sleep then.

This won’t work for everyone. 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 ignoring the problem, so do whatever it takes to block out road noise from the bedroom.