The world is a noisy place, with construction, traffic, helicopters, barking dogs, trash trucks, and thumping car stereos everywhere. Most of us go home to escape from the hustle, bustle and hubbub, but what happens when your sanctuary isn't quiet because your neighbors are noisy?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 100 million Americans share common walls with strangers. Which means, the noises from your neighbors seep into your living space. In fact, the #1 reason people want to move isn't crime, graffiti, or vandalism. It's noisy neighbors.

Unfortunately, there's no easy way to block out external noise. Lining the walls with carpet, cork, or foam egg cartons doesn't really help. Like in a makeshift music studio, it only absorbs sound that's already in the room, improving the overall sound quality. The exterior noise still gets inside.

Still - don't give up hope for peace just yet. It is possible to practice a little acoustical self-defense.
Mason Wyatt, owner of City Soundproofing in New York, points out that a small opening can let in a lot of sound.

  • So, check for any openings where air and noise can seep in - like windows, vents, and entry points for cable TV. Then, caulk and seal anything that faces the source of your noise including window casements, electrical outlets, and light fixtures.
  • Use white noise. That's a consistent, rhythmic hum, like what comes out of a ceiling fan. You could also get a white noise machine, or put a stand-alone water fountain in the corner.
  • Finally, if the noise invading your space is the "booming bass" of your neighbor's stereo, ear plugs won't help. Bass sound waves travel through walls, across your floor and up your bed frame to the bones in your ears, where you will "hear" that boom as you try to sleep. Instead, try to block the sound's path by putting "isolation pads" or "noise-vibration pads" under your bedposts. Or ask your neighbor if you can put pads under his TV, treadmill, washing machine or stereo speakers to attack the problem at the source.