When someone designs a bedroom, it is done with both comfort and visual aesthetics in mind. Even contemporary interpretations of age-old practices such as feng shui or vastu shastra typically align with this two-pronged approach. However, a non-visual component of comfort is very often overlooked: sound.
Whether or not you’re a light sleeper, sound influences the way you sleep! Studies have shown this to be true. It may make sense to think of sound as being an issue only if it keeps you from sleeping or if it wakes you up in the middle of the night—and let’s be honest, these are already pretty big issues—but even noises you sleep through can be detrimental to sleep and overall health. Not all noise is bad, though; white noise and its sound masking properties has been known to have a positive effect on sleep. In fact, there is a whole industry devoted to making and marketing white noise generators for the sleep-deprived.
The next time you’re up for re-arranging furniture or feel like doing some light re-decorating, keep sound in mind! You’d be surprised at what just a few adjustments can do to improve your bedroom in terms of minimizing unwanted sounds. Below are a few bedroom design tips that will keep the noise down.
#1 Move the TV and Computer Somewhere Else
Let’s start with the one that’s most likely to be met with maximum resistance. TVs, computers, sound systems, gaming systems, etc.: set them up in a different room! Keeping them in the bedroom is not ideal. These distractions will potentially keep you from sticking to your bedtime. They also generate heat, and in most cases artificial light; both of which can affect your sleep cycle negatively. That’s on top of noise that will keep you awake—unless you live alone and always turn off everything before you sleep.
Before you get to grumbling and mumbling and fussing–and frantic Googling to disprove this point—know this: We get it! We know it can be hard to get out of the habit of making the bedroom an all-around repository of everything that’s important to you. (On a personal note: I had moved twice in my life as an adult before taking this piece of advice to heart. Yes, I sleep better, and my bedroom is much cozier.) Sometimes it’s unavoidable—you may share the house with many roommates, or have limited space in a tiny apartment–but if you can, try it for a week or two before dismissing the idea that your bedroom can be separate from your personal entertainment area.
#2 Move the Bed Away from Walls Shared with Noisy Areas
This seems like common sense, but often this is not something you think of when picking out and designing a bedroom upon moving in. A household’s daily routine evolves and takes time to settle into a steady and predictable pattern. You can’t always tell which area will be noisy, or when. For example: If your bedroom shares a wall with the kitchen, you may not experience unwanted sounds seeping in until you buy a new fridge with a noisy ice maker. Or, how about this: Sharing a wall with a hallway may seem like a good idea, until a shift in work schedule has you trying to fall asleep when everyone else is walking around and getting ready for work or school.
If you can find a way to move the bed to a better place in the bedroom, do so; but if you can’t, there’s always the next tip, which involves some DIY sound insulation.
#3 Line the Walls with Furniture
A good, solid choice that’s utilitarian and easy to find is a wood bookcase or display case. Not only will one or two of these help absorb noise coming through the walls they’re set against, but they’re also great for storing items and keeping bedroom clutter down. A desk or dresser would also work, but they’re not as likely to have the same coverage as a tall wooden case with shelves. Pro tip: To further help with sound insulation, use these particular storage areas for clothes, towels, bedding, or books.
If your bedroom is too small to accommodate new and large pieces of furniture, you can also place them on the other side of the shared wall. For example: If your bedroom is next to the living room, and that’s the noisy area, then put a bookcase against the living room wall. Still don’t have enough space? Consider using acoustic tiles and panels as design elements in the bedroom. Some of them can even be installed temporarily–so you can try it out without making a permanent design commitment.
#4 Get Cozy with Carpets and Rugs
This won’t significantly reduce the noise levels from below the bedroom—like bookcases do for walls—but it does help a little. Carpets and rugs really aren’t for keeping noise out, but for minimizing noise that is made in the bedroom. You may not notice a big difference if you live by yourself, but if you share a bedroom with a partner, you will feel it. Footsteps, dropped items, ringing phones—they will all sound a little less loud with thick or padded carpeting.
Sound bounces off better from flat and hard surfaces—glass, tiles, hardwood—which is why carpets and rugs work well. In general, though, anything that softens up the room will help: plush furniture, fluffy pillows and toys, window trimmings, and more. This brings us to the next tip.
#5 Cover Windows and Doorways with Curtains
When it comes to windows and doors, you can do a lot more to reduce noise pollution if you’re willing to put in the time and effort: You can switch to double-pane windows and sound-blocking doors, use an insulating foam sealant to fill in gaps in windows, install draft stoppers and weather stripping for your doors, and more. However, the easiest way to minimize noise pollution—while still contributing to the style and aesthetic of the bedroom—is to buy some heavy curtains. You can get blackout curtains to do double duty, as well; certain blackout curtains are made to absorb sound as well as block light.
Windows aren’t the only appropriate place for curtains. you can install a curtain rod over a door and cover it with heavy drapery when bedtime approaches, or even use curtains on a four poster bed—although in the latter case, we don’t suggest heavy material, as air quality may affected by it.