You want your home to be a haven away from outside stresses but most of us don’t live on a rural refuge where the only sound is the chirping of bluebirds. Instead, you likely live in a home that’s regularly exposed to street noise, car horns, blaring sirens, and the gleeful shouts of pedestrians. This cacophony is often called noise pollution.
Noise pollution is a problem when you’re trying to relax (for example, during an in-home massage) or sleep your recommended 7 hours a night. Even if you think you’re asleep, noise pollution can wake you up for brief periods of time, leading to a restless night’s sleep and drowsiness in the morning.
During the 4th of July holiday weekend, the sound of fireworks can be a big problem as well. Patriotism can be so loud.
The good news is that it’s relatively easy to make your bedroom or living room a serene, quiet, dim sanctuary. Here are some tips to protecting your kids, your pets, and yourself from the din of the outside world.
The right curtains can do double duty for eliminating stimuli — as blackout curtains to protect from unwanted light, and as soundproofing.
Outside light is a mixed blessing too. Realtors may wax rhapsodic over sunlight, but you don’t always want to be woken up by the sun’s first rays at 5:50 am, or by a patriotic fireworks display in the late evening.
Look for tight-knit curtains with a lining. Good blackout curtains don’t have to be expensive. Some of the best recommended blackout curtains include the BOLLOLVON from IKEA ($15) and the Eclipse brand, available at your nearby Wal-Mart and Kohl’s.
Alternatively, you might choose naturally heavyweight curtains made from fabrics like brocade or velvet.
White noise machines
Yes, you can block out noise with more noise. White noise helps soothe and quiet your surroundings by producing a consistent ambient sound across all frequencies. That means that sudden noises like snoring, barking dogs, or fireworks are less jarring and less likely to wake you up or keep you from sleeping. There are machines specifically designed to produce white noise (Marpac makes many recommended white noise machines). Some people prefer to use a fan or humidifier as a distraction instead. Experiment to find what works for you.
Rugs (on floor and walls)
Sound bounces off hard surfaces, which is why you can’t hear yourself speak in those trendy restaurants with brick walls and concrete floors. If your home is suffering from sonic pinball, soften the ambience with thick rugs — the shaggier, the better. If you really want to make the most of these sound-muffling surfaces, bring back the 1970s with shaggy wall hangings. (You can skip the avocado appliances, though.)
Suggested Reading: How Color at Home Affects Your Mood
Marcy is the SVP of People and Communications at Zeel. In addition to overseeing the humans of Zeel, Marcy has written about workplace topics for more than 20 years both at Zeel and as VP of Content for Vault.com, a career information web site and publisher.