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How can I sleep in a noisy room or house?

In this new collection of topics on f-h.info, I will briefly present my quick-and-easy solutions to some everyday problems that act like a splinter in your foot: not a big issue per se, but constantly giving you pain.  I am starting with sleeping in a noisy environment, or how to get a good night of sleep in a durable and cost-effective manner.  I have tested it for over six months now, and I am giving you my impressions about it.
How can I sleep in a noisy room or house?

The big picture, or rather, turbine

A simple floor fan could well change your nights.  For me it did.  I have been sleeping with a fan on for a few hours in the morning for over 6 months now (since november 2017), and it really brought me a durable way to find sleep.  “It works for me” is the traditional expression, but it could work for you too.  It is about trying it, and see if it covers the random noises that wake you up, by adding a blanket of white noise over it.

My sleeping profile

I am a very light sleeper, especially in the second half of the night.  Anything will wake me up, like a car driving down the street, the commuters traffic that builds up, the first birds that chirp in the very early morning, you name it.  In Queensland, the sun rises so early all year round, and so many people go to work so early in the morning, that all this constitutes a real source of sound pollution around me.  Therefore, at about 5 am, when I wake up from any of these sources, I don’t think twice, I just power on the fan that is sitting at the foot of my bed, and I return to it, enjoying a couple of hours of deep sleep.

“That’s not for me, I can’t sleep with a noise in the bedroom”

So I thought, until I understood that noise (I’m not talking about music, but polluting noise, the kind that disturbs) can be categorised in two distinct broad categories: random noise, and white noise.  Let’s focus on the latter here.  White noise has the interesting property of being predictable when it comes in a cyclic pattern.  Your brains will pick that regularity in the pattern, and will, or should, apply an automatic mask to drown it out.

You will certainly hear the fan and its boring hum at first, but after a few minutes, if you are really tired, and your body is really asking for more sleep, your brain will zone the fan out completely, and you should find that deep sleep again.

How does it work?

Just place a reasonably noisy and well maintained (for safety purposes) fan in the room you sleep, and switch it on to either find sleep as you go to bed, or in the early hours of the morning, when motor vehicles noises start to fill up the environment outside, or birds start to chirp, or kids, including yours maybe, start to be noisy in the next room.  You may also play with the speed buttons, my fan has three, depending on the intensity you are looking for.  Just aim at the lowest intensity that covers the intensity of the noises that you want to cover out.

There is the option to only turn it on and off on hours you need it, before getting woken up by the real disturbing noises, if you use a electro-mechanical device, or one of these smart powerboards that can be programmed with an app through a smartphone or by a computer.

I’m too cold with the circulating air around me

Yes, I understand this can be an issue, especially in small rooms where the air will circulate around, bouncing on wall and adopting a circular movement around you.  My method is to turn it away from the bed, and pointing it towards the walk-in robe, so the air hasn’t got a chance to reflect back into the main room.  It just dies out in there.  You may want to keep your door closed if the disturbing noise comes from inside your house, or if you want to keep the brightness level down.  In that case, I suggest you peg a piece of fabric, or even a tee shirt, in front of the fan (make sure it can never get caught in the rotor), for instance if you place a chair infront, with a towel hanging, so it absorbs the energy of the oncoming air, and limits reflection a lot.

Isn’t that too costly to run every night?

Not really.  Physics teaches that electrical motors for classic home appliances, and a fan is one, consume only a few tens of watt-hours.  What is this? Without getting too technical, let me tell you that anything that only produces an magnetic field, such as an electrical motor, consumes only one or two percents of what a device that heats or boils would consume.  In plain English, obiling water in the kettle for your coffee or your tea, or having a shower, will anyway cost manifold the cost of running a fan all day!

Here is a practical example; Let’s suppose a fan is rated 30 W (Watts, a unit of power), and you run it for 3 hours every morning, between 5 am and 8 am.  Therefore it consumes a total energy of 3x30 = 90 Watt-hours.  At the energy rate of, let’s say, 30 cents for a kWh of energy (a kWh is 1,000 Watt-hours), you will have only increased your electricity bill by 2.7 cents only.  Compared to the price of most products and services you will buy and use on that day, this is, let’s say it, a negligible amount.

Time to kiss good night

I hope that I could help by providing my experience to you.  Remember this is just an account of what works for me, and in no way I could be liable for any injury or loss due to the use, or the application, of the advice I give herein.
When you spin a fan in your bedroom for so long, and so regularly, always make sure that is it electrically safe, that it can’t provoke any fire, and that nobody, including you, half asleep, or babies, young children or pets, could get their fingers or paws caught in it, or trip in the power cord at night while moving around.

Sleep well!

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created 18 May 2018
revised 18 May 2018 by M. Fabien Haddadi M Sc. Fab
Tropicalm