What light through yonder window breaks?
December 28, 2017 1:03 AM   Subscribe

My neighbor is unintentionally shining a light into my room and I need to find the best course of action to take here...

So my bedroom faces into a private alleyway/ yard
and my side of my apartment faces into our neighboring building a couple of yards away. Our neighbor’s unit has a different setup, and I think it’s a kitchen that leads out into a small porch. Anyway, a family lives there, with a male in his 60’s. Back story: he actually used to go out late at night and smoke cigarettes and have phone conversations past one in the morning, which would wake me but I didn’t say anything because he seems, shall I say, not the easiest to get along with. So lately, I’ve been woken up by the light from their ( I assume) kitchen at 2-4 in the morning, or sometimes earlier which prevents me from going to/staying asleep. The door has a sizable window that seems covered enough by a large papery window covering, but there’s a transom that is uncovered. Side note, I have already bought a window covering that blocks most of the light and have curtains up over that. If I block anymore light out, I would have no natural light in my room and can’t wake up in the morning, so I don’t think I can do anything more on my end. I never see the neighbors outside, and it being winter, I don’t think I can just run into them. I was hoping it would stop, but I think someone has insomnia or just forgets to turn the light off before bed, but it’s really starting to take a toll. I’d say it happens a couple times a week, some weeks more than others. I’m honestly at a loss of what to do here. Should I write them a letter and leave it in their building’s lobby? Should I buzz them while they’re at home and just nicely ask them to get a cover for their transom? I don’t want to be passive aggressive or start a thing with them, and so I’m asking you what you would do in my situation. Many thanks in advance for your imput!
posted by Champagne Supernova to Human Relations (11 answers total)
This is a light that is inside your neighbor's house, not an outdoor security light or similar. You can't really ask the neighbor to limit their free use of an interior light simply because you prefer to have natural light coming in as you wake up. Cover all your windows thoroughly and solve the wake up issue another way (lamp timers, an alarm clock that wakes you with gradual light, an earlier bed time, or a combination of those things.)
posted by quince at 2:01 AM on December 28, 2017 [52 favorites]

Yep. You need blackout curtains or shades and a natural light alarm clock. Presto! Problem solved. If it was an outdoor flood light I’d say go have a chat, but this is inside their home, you have to be the one to adjust.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:20 AM on December 28, 2017 [20 favorites]

I see no reason not to ask politely. As long as you're you're nice about it, that is a very normal thing to do.
If they don't repond well to that, then you've tried and you can then go the blackout curtains / wake light route.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:37 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd be a little wary of having this as my first approach to them: it's pretty much a cultural context judgement, so I can see why Too-Ticky would, but in the UK, I think I wouldn't.

But if you want natural light in the morning, you can get blinds with motors on them fairly affordably (probably a fair bit more than the cost of a wake light, especially if you want a timer on then), so maybe having the blinds closed at night, and then opening an hour or two before you want to wake up might be a sensible solution.
posted by ambrosen at 5:02 AM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

All great suggestions here.

I would get into bed and calculate where on the window the light and transom are coming through the window. Mark it with painter's tape. Get cardboard that goes over just that part of your window at night + the curtains you already have. Thst should do it.

When you run out of the amino acid L-Glutamine, your body wakes you up. L-Glutamine is least expensive in powder form at The Vitamin Shoppe or online? GNC is spendy, I assume body building supplement stores are, too. Try taking some L-Glutamine before bed to help you stay asleep.
posted by jbenben at 5:58 AM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

In your shoes, I would take this as my own problem to solve with blackout curtains and a different strategy for waking up in the morning. But if you are going to approach them, this seems like the sort of thing that could go wrong easily enough that I think it would be better done in person than via a letter. (Which pains me to say, because I love a good letter, but this seems like a case where a light and personal touch is called for.)
posted by Stacey at 6:00 AM on December 28, 2017

Have you considered an eye mask instead of more curtains? The fancier kind are pretty comfortable and they are easy to take off and see natural light when it's time to get up.

Since you clearly prefer to sleep in the very dark, I think you'd be surprised how much better your sleep with the mask will be (if it is like mine).
posted by dame at 6:28 AM on December 28, 2017 [6 favorites]

You could gift him a large polarizing filter to go over his window. You would put one over your window (in a different orientation). Both of you would get about half the natural light, but your filter would block all the light comming from him.
posted by Sophont at 8:41 AM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

If a neighbour came asking me to turn off the lights inside my house because they can’t sleep, I would be - and that’s putting it mildly - extremely pissed off.
posted by Kwadeng at 10:01 AM on December 28, 2017 [6 favorites]

I’ll 2nd dame’s suggestion of an eye mask, with this tweak. I go to bed earlier than my son who plays videogames in the late evenings. I can’t close my bedroom door for reasons, so I have a sleep mask that I lay over my eyes without the straps so I can fall asleep. It slides off later, and that helps me wake up when the sun comes up.
posted by dorkydancer at 1:56 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks all. I already have a light alarm clock, so looks like it’s blackout curtains for me.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 12:20 AM on January 1, 2018

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