I have a neighbor upstairs who starts doing the laundry around 12am, slams doors and stomps around on the floor which cause lots of noises at night right when I'm trying to fall asleep. This is driving me insane!

I thought about getting earplugs, but If I use earplugs, I won't be able to hear my alarm in the morning.

Do any of you have a piece of advice?? I don't wanna cause any trouble between us since I don't have any plan to move of this apartment yet.

  • 2
    Have you talked to your neighbor yet? Kicking the wall is not likely to be effective if she doesn't realize why you're doing that.
    – Hobbes
    Sep 8, 2016 at 9:30
  • @Hobbes No, I haven't talked with her yet. Because I have a child, we are probably loud in the day. And this makes me hesitant to ask her to be quiet at night. But it's still in the daytime when we are loud...
    – Mikiko
    Sep 12, 2016 at 6:09
  • 2
    By all means go up and explain politely that you can hear her at night. She will probably be mortified. You could offer to buy her some soft slippers... If you keep it friendly and jokey this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
    – RedSonja
    Sep 22, 2016 at 9:01
  • @RedSonja Thanks for your advice. I'm not courageous enough to offer to buy her some slippers and be friendly and jokey about it at the same time.. Knowing me, I would make it awkward... I've had some small talk with her in the past, and she doesn't seem that kind of a neighbor either. You know, most Japanese people including myself could be a bit anal with people that you don't know well about... Argh!
    – Mikiko
    Sep 23, 2016 at 0:19
  • 1
    @Headcrab: you have made a very degrading offensive generalization. While it might be true for some people, it is definitely not true for others. I recommend that you delete your comment.
    – virolino
    Jan 20, 2020 at 11:55

9 Answers 9


Some people simply don't realise how much noise they make, or how much it impinges on others.

I've found - empirically, & without ever actually falling out with any noisy neighbours long-term - that one good lesson is to make your own loud noise while they're trying to sleep.

Whether this takes the form of some hefty DIY at 6am, or putting the hifi on as loud as it will go then going out for 3 hours is entirely up to you; but matching approximately like for like would feel most appropriate.

When/if the neighbour enquires/complains, you then have you opportunity to discuss how thin the walls are; complete with fake apologies, "omg, I didn't realise", etc etc.

I've lived in the same apartment for 25 years & never had to do this trick twice with the same neighbour.

  • Thank you, @Tetsujin. You're probably right. She most likely isn't really aware of how loud and annoying it is, or she just doesn't care. Sometimes I would kick the wall, etc.to let her know the sound she's making is bothering me, but it usually stops for a while and starts all over again. I try not to make any loud noise after, say, 11pm, except on the weekends because I know that she also works Monday through Friday, but it seems like, as in your answer, I need to intentionally make more noise like she does when she's trying to sleep to make her actually reaize how annoying it really is.
    – Mikiko
    Sep 8, 2016 at 6:33
  • 1
    A directly passive-aggressive approach will probably work. I would add a hand-written note, in an envelope, pushed under her door, about an hour into the deluge-of-sound: "Just so you know how thin the walls are..."
    – M.Mat
    Apr 12, 2017 at 2:19

This an ancient problem, and the solutions falls into various categories like:

  • Stop the origin of the sound – Talk to the neighbour...
  • Block out the sound – Use ear plugs, noise canceling headphones, reinforce walls, building a (more or less) soundproof cubicle around your bed
  • Move further away from the sound – If possible, change the room you sleep in, to a room further away from the sound source
  • Introduce intermediate sound – See below...

After being diagnosed with a mild variant of sleep apnea I received a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) apparatus. This had the side effect of creating a little local noise which helped me eliminate other noise sources.

In other words, if neither of the other options above is able to help you, and none of the variants in this thread, it could be an option to introduce an intermediate sound source in your bedroom. Kind of like white-noise, but really any sound raising the ambient sound level will make other sound vanish to some extent.

It'll require some getting used to, but when done you've trained yourself to sleeping in a noisier environment, and you'll benefit from it in other surroundings.

A last note related to ear plugs (or half ear plugs if they annoy you when sleeping), there are other alarms not relying on sound to awaken you. For example they could use vibration or light. But note, that most people will awaken from the local alarm even though accustomed to sleeping in a noisy environment.


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I fell asleep to my neighbors yelling and stomping and woke up to them at 4am for the same thing. I already have sleep problems and i don't need the neighbors impairing my ability to sleep when i actually do end up sleeping. Their disturbances are frequent and incessant. We wake up to them about 5 nights out of the week. I haven't gone up to talk to them because last time I talked to a (different) upstairs neivhbor, I got lunged at with a steak knife by a 13 yr old. Now, despite all the trouble they have caused me and my sleep, I think the right thing to do is be kind and move on. That's why I am playing them a courtesy concert of my favorite hard rock music as soon as they're quiet and trying to sleep. I was wide awake at 0430 (4.5 hrs before my first alarms) so I was feeling crafty and got duct tape, an extention chord, and hung my bluetooth speaker to the ceiling. I even dedicated a playlist for my neighbors! Now all i have to do is counter out their loudness and catch them off guard by returning the favor and disturbing their precious sleep. Good luck in your sleepy endeavors!


Depending on your sleeping habits, you may be able to use earplugs after all. Earplugs don't block all sound, they merely reduce the volume by 20-30 dB. The alarm is right next to your bed and probably loud enough to be heard through your earplugs. When you wake up at the same time every day, your body gets used to this and often starts to wake up before the alarm goes off, so even soft sounds are enough to trigger waking up.

If that doesn't work, an alarm that includes a light (Wake-up light) is an option.

  • Thank you for your advice. I'm just not confident about being able to wake up on my own before the alarm goes off. Especially lately, beacuse I haven't been able to sleep well. I hit the snooze bottom at least three times on most days...
    – Mikiko
    Sep 12, 2016 at 6:13
  • You can try them out over the weekend, when sleeping through your alarm isn't a big problem.
    – Hobbes
    Sep 12, 2016 at 7:57
  • Thanks, @Hobbes. I will try them and see how I do this weekend :)
    – Mikiko
    Sep 12, 2016 at 8:08
  • I sleep with earplugs (somebody in the room snores, also we live in an agricultural area). I worried about hearing my alarm (smart phone alarm with music) but I hear it every time. And strangely enough, I hear mine but not that of my spouse (yeah, that guy who snores), who gets up earlier.
    – RedSonja
    Sep 22, 2016 at 8:56

A possible workaround for earplugs or noise cancelling headphones not making the alarm clock audible is a cheap sport smart band worn like a watch. Its alarm function is usually set through a smartphone and works by vibrating. On the 1st try though I recommend combining it with a normal alarm clock set a couple of minutes later as a backup. The added bonus is higher chance of not waking up your significant other (vs a regular alarm clock) if your daily routines start at different times.


Use the active noise cancelling earphones. This device almost totally eliminate ambient noise and possibly will give peace to your ears. You don't need play a music, simply switching it on will make you 'deaf'.


Look for wireless type. The Bluetooth type helps to avoid tangled wires around your neck while sleeping.

  • 2
    The original poster worried that earplugs (functionally the same as noise canceling earphones) would prevent him from hearing the alarm. Sep 11, 2016 at 12:33
  • 1
    @DanielGriscom I'm a she!! It's not a big deal, but why do people on SE tend to think that I'm a male? Is it because of my user name? It's a short for 'Mikiko' and not for 'Michael' or something similar. Anyways, thanks for mentioning my worry about the earplugs :)
    – Mikiko
    Sep 12, 2016 at 6:03
  • @Mikiko ... and how would I have known your gender? Not knowing your gender, what should I have said? And, as I'm doing this only because I'm being helpful to strangers, how much time should I have spent agonizing over my exact words? Sep 12, 2016 at 12:46
  • @DanielGriscom No, I was just curious because I got referred to as he a few times in a row. It was completely personal and there's absolutely no need for you to apologize...
    – Mikiko
    Sep 13, 2016 at 9:47
  • Is not the ending -ko an indication of being female and Japanese? Not that you could expect the whole world to know that. And it may not be your meatworld name, of course.
    – RedSonja
    Sep 22, 2016 at 8:58

Having had an upstairs neighbour who worked shifts and relaxed and did housework later on (often after midnight), I can feel with the OP.

I have always found it much easier on myself to talk with said neighbour than to turn on the music loud and get in trouble with several others in the same block.

Not all people are willing to mend their ways, but then you can still use the methods mentioned in the other answers.


Use a white noise machine, they continuously emit noise (usually actually Brownian or pink noise) that drowns out the noise created by your neighbour.

You can improvise one by tuning a radio receiver between frequencies and turning the volume up.

Make sure your alarm is loud enough (if you are clever, you may be able to have it shut of the white noise when it sounds, I can't think of an easy way to achieve this).

EDIT: Some white noise machines shut off automatically after a pre-set time, but this rarely exceeds 90 minutes, so you may wake up in the middle of the night after it shuts off. Ideally, you want it to shut off just before the alarm sounds. Also, there exist alarm cocks with outlets wired through them to switch as the alarm goes off, but those are hard to find, tend to switch on rather than off, and are usually expensive. The solution may be just to find a very loud alarm clock, but that would make you the annoying neighbour depriving others of sleep.

  • Thank you, @KiranLinsuain. A white noise machine! I definitely need to try this. But does it mean if the neighbor is REALLY loud, I have to turn up the volume to a point where it actually drowns out the noise?
    – Mikiko
    Sep 8, 2016 at 4:08
  • Change up your sleep pattern. The noise is infinitely less intrusive when you are already asleep.
  • Earplugs won't block high pitched noises or vibration, so your alarm and the doorbell are going to be just fine. Earplugs are not particularly healthy or comfortable to wear on a daily basis, however highly valuable as a fallback measure. Can always toss them away in a brief moment of awakeness in the middle of the night.
  • Talking to the neighbors can be beneficial in more ways than just the somewhat unlikely event of them agreeing on changing their ways and keeping the word. The complaint is a legitimate reason to pay them a friendly visit, which, if applied diligently enough, might lead to them eventually deciding to relocate.

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