If you’ve ever lived in an apartment, you’ll be no stranger to noisy neighbors. Whether it’s loud music or TV, arguments, or a screaming baby, at some point the people who live around you are bound to disturb your sleep.
When living in an apartment, you’re expected to deal with ‘reasonable’ noise from your neighbors. If it’s only once in a while, it’s easy to cope. But, what if the noise is a constant, nightly struggle? What if the upstairs neighbor snoring all night long is causing you to lose sleep?
If your neighbor’s snoring keeps you awake, this guide is most definitely for you! We’ll look into the causes of snoring, and the steps you can take if you’re hearing neighbor snores through the wall. You’ll learn how to drown out loud snoring, and if all else fails, how to talk to your neighbor about their problem in a mutually beneficial way.
What Are the Causes of Snoring?
There are many different types of snoring, and they all have different causes. Some are temporary, and some are indicative of a long-term problem. In general, an obstruction to your breathing during the night will cause you to snore.
If air can’t flow freely through your nose and throat while you’re asleep, it causes vibration in your airway. This vibration results in the loud snoring noise that we’re all familiar with.
Here are the most common causes of snoring:
- Obesity. Snoring is far more common in people who are overweight. This is because the extra fat around the throat can narrow the airway, and make it more likely to vibrate as air tries to force its way through. Interestingly, snoring due to obesity is more common in men, because women don’t tend to put on as much weight around the neck and face.
- Sleeping position. Sleeping in certain positions can make a person more likely to snore. According to the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association, snoring is worse if you’re sleeping on your back. This is because the tongue tends to drop to the back of the mouth, making it harder to breathe. As air tries to push past the tongue, this can cause snoring.
- Throat weakness. Some people naturally have weaker muscles in their throat. If this is the case, the muscles have a harder time keeping the airway open during sleep. Because of this, the throat can close during the night. This results in less space for the air to get through, causing snoring.
- Narrow nasal passage: If you have very narrow nasal passages, or they’ve become blocked due to an illness or swelling, this can also cause snoring. It’s because the air has to squeeze through a tiny space, causing vibration in the nose.
- Anatomy of the mouth: As strange as it sounds, everyone’s mouth is different. The shape of your mouth can determine whether or not you snore. If your tongue is unusually large and sits back quite far in your mouth, you’re more likely to snore. Similarly, having a large, low-sitting soft palate, or a longer uvula, can cause some people to snore.
- Drinking alcohol: This can cause your throat muscles to relax more than they usually would. This causes vibration in the throat which results in snoring. Also, when inebriated, you’re less likely to wake up due to a breathing obstruction or due to being in an uncomfortable position. This makes the chance of snoring more likely. Of course, snoring due to alcohol is usually temporary. If someone is snoring every night, alcohol is unlikely to be the cause.
- Sleep apnea: This is a severe medical disorder which causes your breathing to stop and start during the night. In most cases, it’s caused by a persistent obstruction to the airway. Sometimes, it’s a result of your brain not sending the right signals to your breathing muscles. If a person has sleep apnea, they’re far more likely to snore than someone who breathes freely all night long.
How to Block Out the Sound of a Snoring Neighbor
So, now that you know what could be causing your neighbor to snore, what can you do about it? Well, first things first, let’s explore the best way to block out snoring on your end.
If you can find a way to avoid hearing the snore, you might not need to confront your neighbor at all.
Earplugs for Snoring
Earplugs are probably the most straightforward and cheapest way to block out your neighbor’s snoring. They’re also very effective. After all, putting something into your ear which essentially deafens you is bound to block out most kinds of noise.
But, did you know that there are many different types of earplugs?
- Foam earplugs: These tend to be the cheapest kind, available from all pharmacies and even most supermarkets. However, you can also buy higher-end foam earplugs if you’re willing to splash out a bit more. Most foam plugs are disposable, meaning you’re only supposed to use them once, as they lose their effectiveness quickly. Many people find that they’re good in a pinch, but sometimes don’t block out noise that well. If they’re very cheap, they can also be uncomfortable because of poor quality material.
- Wax earplugs: Wax plugs are usually disposable too, but many people find them more effective than foam plugs. They come in the form of a small ball of wax. When warmed up, the wax forms to the exact shape of your ear cavity, creating a tight seal. Wax earplugs can be slightly harder to find, but they are worth the effort.
- Reusable earplugs: Some earplugs are reusable. They’re made of higher quality materials, such as silicone, which retain their effectiveness over a longer time. Although they tend to be more expensive, you can quickly make your money back because you don’t have to keep buying disposable earplugs again and again.
- Custom-made earplugs: The most expensive of all, custom earplugs are hands-down the most effective at drowning out the noise. You don’t have to visit a specialist to have these made – you can buy kits online to make them yourself. Like wax earplugs, they fit precisely inside your ear, but they’re often of a higher quality and can be reusable.
If you’ve tried earplugs and find that they aren’t for you, all hope is not lost. Many people don’t like using earplugs because they cause discomfort, or they block out the sound of your alarm in the morning, meaning you oversleep. In that case, you may get on better with using a white noise machine to drown out the sound of your neighbor’s snoring.
White Noise Machines
Instead of blocking out all sound entirely by using earplugs, you might get on better by drowning out the snoring sound. The best way to do this is by using a white noise machine.
White noise is created by playing many frequencies of sound at the same time. It’s a fuzzy, relaxing sound, similar to television or radio static. The unique quality of white noise means that it can blend together background noises so that you don’t hear them. Even if your neighbor’s snoring is extremely loud or low-pitched, a white noise machine will drown out snoring.
The reason white noise works so well is that it’s a constant, unchanging sound. Since it uses all frequencies, practically no disturbing noise in your environment can penetrate it (unless it’s extremely loud, like your alarm clock). Because the white noise is steady, your brain quickly gets used to it, meaning you’re able to fall asleep quickly. You also have a far lower chance of waking up during the night.
There are many different ways that you can produce white noise in your home. Although you might have heard of white-noise-producing apps for your smartphone, they are usually ineffective. This is because the quality of your phone’s speaker isn’t good enough to produce proper white noise, using all frequencies of sound. Although it might sound like white noise, the sound produced by your phone probably won’t be able to drown out your neighbor’s snoring.
White noise machines, on the other hand, have high-quality speakers that can deliver exceptional sound. The white noise produced by these machines is generally excellent quality, and able to drown out annoying sounds like snoring. There are lots of white noise machines on the market. Some are cheaper and quite basic, whereas others are more expensive and boast various features. Which one you should choose depends on your budget and what features you’d like.
Listen to Music
There’s a scientific reason why lullabies work so well for little ones. Studies have shown that certain kinds of music can make it easier for you to fall asleep. Music which has a slow, steady tempo can slow your heart rate in response to it. And this doesn’t just work for children – it works as well on adults too.
Music can also help you relax by taking your mind off things that you might be worrying about. Amazingly, music can also affect our hormones, too. Slow tempo music can cause the release of norepinephrine, a hormone which calms our bodies and helps us sleep.
If music helps you to drop off to sleep, it might be all you need to take your mind off the snoring. Of course, music has the bonus of helping to drown out the snoring, too. There are many different ways to listen to music at night.
- Headphones are the best bet if you want to drown out your neighbor’s snoring completely. As they deliver music directly to your ears, the snoring doesn’t have a chance of getting through as well. Unfortunately, headphones can be quite bulky and uncomfortable, and they can also fall off during sleep.
- Sleep headphones are quite a recent invention. They are specifically designed for wearing at night. They tend to be softer, more comfortable and less likely to fall off when moving around in your sleep. Sleep headphones usually take the form of a fleece band which wraps around the head, with earbuds built into the material. There are various brands available, some of a higher quality than others.
- Music pillows are also available. These smart pillows are just as comfortable and soft as regular pillows, but they have a speaker built into them. Since you don’t have to put anything in your ear or fix anything to your head, they can be far more comfortable than using headphones. However, they might not be as good at blocking out external noises.
Of course, no matter which way you choose to listen to music at night, make sure you’re selecting the right songs. A dramatic song with a fast tempo will probably make it even harder for you to sleep. The best type of music is soft, slow tempo music, and ideally instrumental. Music with words tends to keep the language processing part of your brain active.
Move the Location of Your Bed
So, if you find that you can’t silence the snoring with music, white noise or earplugs, what’s next? Well, although this answer might sound too simplistic, it’s worth giving a try. The reason your neighbor’s snoring might sound so loud is that your bed shares a wall with their bed – or is directly under it.
If you suspect that this is the case, try moving your bed to a different location. Sometimes, moving your bed to the other side of the room is enough, if your bed shares a wall with your neighbor’s. If the snoring is still too loud, and you have a spare room in your apartment, you might try switching rooms to see if it’s any better.
Of course, not everybody has the luxury of living in an apartment with rooms to spare. So what do you do if you can’t move your bed?
Soundproof Your Bedroom
If none of the above options have worked for you so far, things might need to get a little more serious. One option available is to soundproof your apartment. Usually, you won’t need to get the entire place soundproofed – just the wall that you share with your neighbor, or the ceiling if they live above you. Soundproofing can make an incredible difference to noise levels if you’ve got a noisy neighbor.
Soundproofing is usually quite expensive and carried out by professionals. However, if you’re a dab hand at DIY, you can give it a go yourself. Soundproofing foam and other materials are available to buy online, and you can also find installation guides and tips to help you make the most of it. You can even buy soundproofing wallpaper and wall stickers which are easier to use if you’re not so sure what you’re doing.
If you rent your apartment, try talking to your landlord about your situation. If you explain the impact that your neighbor’s snoring is having on your life, your landlord might show you some sympathy. They may be willing to work with you and help with the costs of soundproofing, or even pay for it themselves.
Talk To Your Neighbor
If all else fails, and you’ve come to the end of your rope, you might not be able to deal with blocking out the snoring yourself. If your neighbor is snoring so loud that you can’t drown it out with white noise, earplugs or even with soundproofing, it might be time to visit them.
Depending on the kind of relationship you have with your neighbor, they probably won’t get upset or angry with you – especially if you break it to them gently. Don’t be hostile or aggressive when contacting them.
Chances are, they might not even know that you can hear their snoring through the wall. Some people are completely unaware that they snore, especially if they live alone and nobody has ever told them. If going round to talk with them sounds scary to you, you could even write a letter to snoring neighbor.
There are lots of different products available to buy that are designed to reduce snoring. Of course, which product(s) will work largely depends on the cause of your neighbor’s snoring. However, it can’t hurt to recommend to them some products to try.
- Nasal strips are intended for people who snore because their nasal passages are congested, or collapse during the night. They’re relatively inexpensive to buy and can be ordered online. They work by sticking to the bridge of the nose and lifting the sides of the nose so that the nasal passages open wider.
- Anti-snoring mouthpieces work best for people who snore because of an obstruction in the mouth. You can buy mouthpieces which hold the tongue away from the back of the throat, or which adjust the position of your jaw to allow for better airflow.
- Chin straps can also work well for people who snore because they breathe through their mouth at night instead of their nose. They hold the mouth closed to encourage nasal breathing, eliminating the chance of snoring.
- Anti-snoring sprays are available in various forms and from all sorts of different manufacturers. They’re easy to use as you spray them into your mouth or nose. Most of them work by contracting the tissue inside your nose and mouth, creating a bigger space for air to get through. Some also work by keeping the inside of your nose and mouth lubricated, reducing vibration.
- Nasal dilators work in a similar way to nasal strips, except you insert them into your nostrils instead of attaching them to the outside. Their goal is to open up your nasal cavity and widen it so that air can flow freely. Most people find them more effective than nasal strips. However, they can be a bit more uncomfortable.
Suggest a Doctor Visit
If your noisy neighbor doesn’t like the idea of using home remedies, or they don’t seem to be working, it might be time to suggest a visit to the doctor. After all, there may be a serious reason why your neighbor is snoring every night.
Among other things, extremely loud and persistent snoring can be a sign of:
- A disorder such as sleep apnea
- A growth or blockage in the nose or throat
- An allergy
- Or a deformity in the nasal passages.
The first thing that the doctor will do is ask questions to try and establish why your neighbor is snoring. They’ll ask about allergies, medication, eating habits, and whether your neighbor regularly smokes or drinks alcohol. They’ll also examine the nose and throat for signs of deformities or obstructions. It’s likely they’ll also check your neighbor’s BMI to determine whether excess weight or obesity is causing the snoring.
If the doctor suspects that your neighbor has sleep apnea, they may recommend the use of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. The machine has a mask which you wear at night. This mask delivers pressurized air into the nose and mouth, to keep breathing steady and even throughout the night.
Can You Be Evicted For Snoring?
If your neighbor won’t play ball, you might be wondering whether it’s possible to have somebody evicted for snoring. After all, they’re causing a disturbance during the night, aren’t they? There is an old news story on ABC News about a person being evicted for snoring loudly.
Unfortunately, snoring isn’t something that a landlord would usually evict someone for. This is because it’s seen as a noise that can’t be helped. If your neighbor were doing something to cause noise deliberately, such as playing loud music or holding parties, this would be a cause for eviction. However, no matter how loud the snoring is, it’s ‘unlikely’ that they will be evicted for it.
Fortunately, though, this guide should have provided you with all the tips and advice you’ll need for tackling your neighbor’s snoring problem. Whether you end up drowning out the noise on your end or helping your neighbor to stop snoring, you should have a snore-free future ahead of you. And if the worst comes to the worst, you can always move.