housemates keeping me awake
Sleep Problems

How To Sleep When You Have Noisy Roommates

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Louise Carter

Noise is among the most common reasons for conflict among people living in the same home.

Learning to sleep with loud roommates requires significant compromise. As the Journal of Applied Psychology explains, people have radically different tolerances to noise while sleeping.

All efforts to resolve noisy living conditions shouldn’t fall solely on your shoulders. Do what you can to find a way to work alongside your roommates for a mutually agreeable living scenario.

Lay a rug on a hard floor that creates heavy footsteps, and use cotton pads or something equally soft to prevent cupboard doors from slamming. You can also soundproof a bedroom through reorganization.

If this doesn’t work, try using a white noise machine, earplugs, or headphones to block out noise.

How To Sleep with A Loud Roommate

Knowing what to do when roommates are loud isn’t easy. Sharing a home is about compromise. Nobody wants to appear unreasonable, and we all have different thresholds for acceptable noise.

If housemates are keeping you awake, have an honest and open conversation. It can be surprising how effective this is, especially if they don’t realize how loud they’re being.

The conversation needn’t turn into conflict. If you’re still reluctant to have this chat or have done so and found it ineffective, here are some ways to improve your ability to sleep with loud roommates:

1/ Compatible Roommates

We don’t always get to choose our roommates, with landlords sometimes deciding or circumstances thrusting us into living situations.

If you get a say in who your living companions will be, ensure your lifestyles are compatible.

If you work in an office between 9 AM and 5 PM, you may want to be in bed by about 11 PM and wake up again at 7 AM the following morning.

Imagine your roommate’s a bartender who works from 6 PM to 2 AM.

This roommate may not get home until 3 AM, waking you by opening and closing the front door. This is frustrating, but you may wake them when leaving the house in the morning.

In this instance, you’ll likely be considered a noisy roommate even though you behave reasonably. That’s why it’s important to find roommates with similar lifestyles.

how to sleep with noisy roommates

2/ House Rules

If your roommates have noisy hobbies or interests that keep you awake at night or habits that lead to sleeplessness, you may need to suggest some house rules.

If a roommate enjoys listening to heavy metal music, it’s unfair to demand they never play their music. Instead, agree that music should be played through headphones after 9 PM.

The same applies to roommates who stay up late watching movies or playing video games. Ask them to use wireless headphones and refrain from yelling at the screen at unsociable hours.

Consider the impact of running electrical appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, or tumble dryers at night. Keeping noise to a minimum overnight can be beneficial for everyone.

3/ Block Noise

If you can’t stop roommates from making noise, you can block it with headphones or earplugs if you find the experience sufficiently comfortable.

The concern with blocking noise is that it prevents you from hearing alarms. If you wear earplugs or headphones, can you still hear a fire alarm or someone break in?

A safer option may be to diffuse sound with a white noise machine.

Does sleeping with white noise affect sleep? Yes, because the soundwaves distract you from the noise created by roommates and lull you into a state of relaxation.

4/ Soundproofed Room

It’s possible to soundproof a bedroom without getting noise-canceling wall renders:

  • Move your bed away from the noisiest wall.
  • Place a bookshelf against the nosiest wall to absorb some of the noise.
  • Fit draft stoppers under the door to prevent noise.
  • Seal cracks in the door with a self-adhesive strip.
  • Hang a soundproof curtain over a door and close it at night.

When soundproofing a room, ensure it’s easy to leave quickly in an emergency.

5/ Noise Desensitization

Expose yourself to noise a little until it no longer interferes with your sleep.

Record the noise that keeps you up at night and play it during the afternoon while awake. Then, play it early in the morning if you attempt to sleep late or during a nap.

Eventually, the brain tunes out the noise. It will become part of your routine and no longer prevent you from sleeping at night. Maintain exposure therapy long enough, and you will barely notice it anymore.

6/ Muffle Sounds

If you identify certain noises that are keeping you awake at night, consider if you can resolve the problem without your roommates. Examples include:

ProblemSolution
The living room has a hardwood floor that creates loud, echoing footsteps.Get a sound-absorbent rug to lay on the floor, masking the sound of walking.
A roommate slams cupboard doors in the kitchen or bathroom.Tape cotton pads inside the doors so they close gently.
The doors slam in the wind, or a roommate can’t close a door quietly.Get a cushioned door jammer that enables the door to close but prevents it from slamming.
A roommate showers late at night, and the water flow is loud.Switch shower heads to a silent model, and talk to the landlord about the water pipes, as they may need clearing.

7/ Keep Communal Areas Tidy

Other than the noise, cleanliness is something many roommates clash over. If a roommate considers you messy, they may feel compelled to clean while you’re trying to sleep, which can get loud.

Keep all communal areas clean by doing the following:

  • Vacuuming and sweeping at a social hour, so nobody needs to turn on an appliance late at night.
  • Wash the dishes and put them away after dinner so nobody clatters around late at night.
  • Get your laundry washed, dried, and put away so white goods are unnecessary overnight.
  • Make communal items like crockery, cutlery, and glassware accessible.

When discussing house rules surrounding noise, agree upon a cleaning rota to avoid conflict.

What to do when you have noisy roommates

8/ Natural Sleep Aids

Natural sleeping aids that may be of assistance include the following:

Also, consider walking 10,000 steps or taking a late evening walk.

9/ Fall Asleep First

If you’re a sound sleeper, attempt to fall asleep before your roommate creates noise.

You can achieve this by training the body to doze off at a set time through sleep hygiene. Assign a reasonable time to retire and head to bed as scheduled each day. In the time before:

  • Avoid all screens for at least 1 hour before bed, and remove electronic appliances like phones, tablets, and laptops from your bedroom.
  • Don’t eat too late or consume caffeine for at least 6 hours before bed.
  • Open your bedroom window and take a shower to lower your body temperature.
  • Clear your mind before bed – don’t bring worries to bed.

There’s no need to go to bed at 7 PM to avoid the noise of a selfish roommate.

10/ Sleep Again Later

Don’t lie in bed feeling angry if you’re struggling to sleep. The more frustrated you get, the harder it’ll be to fall asleep. You’re better off getting up for a while and starting the sleep process over.

If a roommate is awake and making noise, politely explain that they disturb your sleep. If that’s not an option, make yourself a relaxing drink, read a book for 20 minutes, or meditate.