Dealing with noisy neighbours is easy with today’s technology, even if you live in the city. Those not “in the know” and those who haven’t yet caught up with technology and all its latest gadgets might have to consider living in the countryside if uninterrupted quality sleep is something they highly value.
But you don’t have to go that far to maintain your sanity. Besides, living in an apartment can have its perks — especially if you like to travel. And if you travel often and frequently sleep in hotels, sooner or later you’ll eventually run into the unfortunate circumstance of having noisy tenants and loud hotel guests adjacent to your room.
So what should you do? The easiest and most surefire method of securing your future sanity, and the most time-efficient means of dealing with noisy neighbours, is to NOT deal with them.
Instead, visit your nearest musical instruments shop (or online retailer) and get yourself a pair of $120-$400 “over-the-ear” headphones. I personally and highly recommend the Sennheiser HD 380 PRO. The side profile, shape, and form of the 380s are less clunky than other over-the-ear headphones, which makes them ridiculously comfortable when sleeping on your side. The 380s also allow for extended wear — I’ve worn mine for up to 16 hours straight before, with absolutely no pain or discomfort. And I often wear them for 9 or 10 continuous hours in bed, when I’m traveling or staying at a friend’s noisy city apartment.
Next, play the MP3 on your iPod at 85% volume, and put your iPod in your pocket.
Voila — a portable bedroom for your ears has been set up in no time at all.
Now, when you listen to Victoria Falls (a full-spectrum soundmasking MP3) through the Sennheiser HD 380 PRO, the low frequencies of the waterfall rumble will “mask” the low frequencies of real-world truck revving, and the high frequencies of sibilant splashing will “mask” the high frequencies of real-world car horns and screams from partygoers down the block.
You don’t have to go through the hassle of talking to your neighbours, writing your neighbours a letter, complaining to your landlord, or even calling the police. As a matter of fact, you won’t have to do any of these things for the rest of your life, and you will have the peace and quiet of a Buddhist monastery wherever your travels take you.
Having portable soundmasking abilities wherever you are in the world, during any moment of your life, is a superpower only an enlightened few enjoy. I rarely meet other travelers or backpackers that utilize any sort of soundmasking gadgetry during my travels abroad, and they often wake up groggy and in a bad mood due to the loud party or dance club across the street that was keeping them up the previous night.
Also, side-sleepers often complain of headphones being uncomfortable when they sleep. Well, duh — because they’re wearing the wrong kind of headphones (the clunky kind)! So… don’t get the clunky kind. Get the 380s. Or something with a similar side contour.
For the purposes of dealing with noisy neighbours, I’m going to tell you that you should not purchase any “on-the-ear” headphones either. They’re kinda like miniature “over-the-ear” headphones. “On-the-ear headphones” do not fit snugly enough around your ears to create a sound barrier, and most of them have inferior bass response (which is a crucial factor when it comes to soundmasking — in other words, fighting sound with sound).
Stay away from “in-ear earphones” and “in-ear earbuds” too. In-ear earphones are handy, portable, and very travel-friendly, but trust me when I say this: I have sampled almost every type of earphone/earbud on the market and no matter what, they will always cause discomfort during sleep, and will always cause discomfort after extended use. What I’m saying is… it’s like trying to sleep with a pebble in your ear. Earphones will jut and stab and protude into your ear canal. It’s hard to fall asleep like that, much less stay asleep.
And… let’s say you wear a pair of high-end in-ear earbuds to sleep. You sleep for 9 hours and wake up refreshed and energized. Day 2 should be no problem. After Day 3 of wearing those earbuds to sleep, you wake up with sore ears. Trying to sleep with those earbuds in your ears for Day 4 will be a herculean endeavour, and the soreness in your ears will be exponentially exacerbated. So, earphones are great to have around for backup — I always have a pair of Etymotic Research ER6i in-ear earbuds in my luggage just in case something happens to my headphones — but I almost never use earphones.
So that’s how you deal with noisy neighbours in a way that saves as much time and effort as possible, especially for all future encounters.