Makeover my attitude / sleep please!
January 16, 2019 9:27 AM   Subscribe

I live in an apartment complex, and I know a part of apartment living is hearing your neighbors. An adorable two year old kiddo lives above me, and he has grown to be quite the stomper / runner. Two-fold question: 1) I need help adjusting my attitude so I'm not wanting to pull my hair out from listening to him run around all evening, and 2) Anyone know to be reliably woken up by an alarm while having earplugs in?

Kiddo's room is directly above mine.
Kiddos are gonna kiddo, so asking the parents to reduce the stomping, or to switch rooms with him seem unreasonable to me (right?), especially given they already have their hands full with a super active toddler. I don't think laying down foam flooring / rugs will help much - it's a pretty pronounced stomping. I already have some white noise going on in my room, but the stomping is too staccato-ed to be masked.

I think my best course of action here is to adjust my attitude towards this so I don't end up fuming every evening at 11:45 when he's doing laps above me. Anyone have any ideas of how to approach this mentally? Mantras might be helpful here too.

The other half of my question is I'm considering sleeping with earplugs for when he occasionally goes for a couple bonus middle-of-the-night-laps. Does anyone sleep with earplugs but rely on an alarm to wake up in the morning? How do you do this?

Thank you!
posted by blueberrypuffin to Society & Culture (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I sleep with earplugs and always wake up to my alarm. Or middle of the night phone calls. I’d test it out a few times—I don’t wake up to the noises I’m trying to block out (birds, mostly) but my brain is totally tuned to hear my alarm, even if muffled.
posted by whitewall at 9:29 AM on January 16, 2019

I sleep with earplugs most evenings* and I live in rural Vermont with no close neighbors. I personally have no issue with waking to my iPhone alarm -- which is a snippet of a song by Badly Drawn Boy.

* I go to sleep without earplugs but when I get up to pee I put them in as I find I have a hard time getting back to sleep otherwise.
posted by terrapin at 9:32 AM on January 16, 2019

Bed shaking alarms are really affordable now.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:34 AM on January 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

My personal data point is that it is totally possible to sleep through an alarm when wearing earplugs. I have less of a problem with that scenario because I tend to remove the earplugs in my sleep. Perhaps a light based alarm clock?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:37 AM on January 16, 2019

Can you set your phone to vibrate and ring for the alarm tone?
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:42 AM on January 16, 2019

Vibrating phone under your pillow or sunlight clock.

To mentally deal with the kids above my apartment, I set an alarm for 30 minutes and give myself permission to knock on their door if it’s still really bothering me after that time. I’ve only gone up a few times as they usually calm down (they play a rousing game of jump-off-the-furniture) or I get used to it.
posted by valeries at 9:45 AM on January 16, 2019

OH my GOD that shaking alarm has an earthquake mode! That's hilarious!! Especially given this question was inspired by last night when kiddo woke up from an earthquake in my area and decided to go for a jog.

To address the earplugs thing - I have tried sleeping with earplugs, and have slept through my alarm. I also end up sleeping poorly because I'm paranoid I'll sleep through my alarm. Vibrate + ring with phone under the pillow is risky too, since I tend to flop around and may end up on the other side of my bed. Shaking alarm is a good idea though! Will welcome any other ideas, as well as attitude adjustment ideas since I don't normally wear earplugs when I'm winding down for the evening.
posted by blueberrypuffin at 9:46 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I wear my Apple watch at night so that when the alarm goes off, the watch vibrates on my wrist and wakes me up. Not sure if there are other smartwatches/fitness tracker dealies that vibrate when an alarm goes off, but it wouldn't surprise me.
posted by zoetrope at 9:48 AM on January 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

When my downstairs neighbor showed up outside my door at about 6:30am one day, they sleepily asked what. was. I. doing. because my stomping was waking them up - it was related to me putting on heeled boots for work and then running back and forth to pack my bag, and very soon after I purchased the cheapest and least-awfully patterned floor runner carpets, and tried to be a lot more mindful about when I put on my stomping boots, and told them to let me know if the problem continued, and now I have the best neighbors ever and I think the floor runners helped a lot.

I also recall my young siblings having colorful foam flooring in their room in an apartment building, and I feel like it is pretty standard to be concerned about the impact on neighbors who share floors and ceiling, so maybe a conversation with your neighbors could be helpful. Technically, your lease may have provisions related to noise and the time that noise can happen, but there may be much more simple solutions that can be found, based on mutual efforts to be good neighbors.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:49 AM on January 16, 2019 [16 favorites]

To echo what Zoetrope said about the Apple Watch, I had the Fitbit Blaze and it did the same thing - alarm plus vibration.
posted by Roger Pittman at 10:00 AM on January 16, 2019

I have a stompy toddler. Something that could possibly really help would be to offer to go in together and put down something like these interlocking foam tiles on the floor. Perhaps offer to go in with them on it? Bonus! Less bonking on the floor leads to fewer meltdowns for mom and dad to deal with!
posted by rockindata at 10:03 AM on January 16, 2019 [6 favorites]

Do you have to sleep under his room?
posted by vunder at 10:10 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don't really have great advice on the wake up thing (although my Fitbit Alta has a vibrate alarm feature if that sounds interesting, I think it's pretty effective) but as a parent of a terrible sleeper, I just want to THANK YOU so much for being so understanding. I would bet you quite a lot the parents are exhausted/stressed/frantic/worried about this and you are very kind not to be up yelling at the parents. If it helps you reframe it, do know that you are doing a good deed and being a wonderful neighbor! While you're lying awake, do take a minute to pat yourself on the back for it, ok? :)
posted by john_snow at 10:13 AM on January 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

A lamp on a digital timer?
posted by goatdog at 10:31 AM on January 16, 2019

I used to sleep in a loft bed beneath a room where a two year old would human-cannonball himself off the bed pretty regularly, so I feel you. It helped to remind myself that many of the children I know would kill to be able to do something as casually athletic as jumping or stomping, and that this was a fortunate little boy who wasn’t recovering from a painful surgery.
posted by corey flood at 10:40 AM on January 16, 2019

I swear that I recently read about a pair of earplugs that didn't filter out sounds such as alarm clocks and smoke detectors, but did filter out other sounds. Of course, I can't find them now.

I did come across QuietOn active noise canceling earplugs and Bose noise-masking sleep buds which seem to be in the $200-250 range. (Perhaps worthwhile, if they work, but seemingly very pricey.)

You could also potentially use a white/brown noise app and headphones (the ones for sleeping) and a phone alarm, in addition to your regular alarm, if you wanted to try that.

Much sympathy to you!
posted by needlegrrl at 11:25 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have the Bose sleepbuds mentioned above. I wear them in the evening when reading in bed because my husband likes to watch TV to wind down. They mask the TV so well I’m falling asleep while he still has it on. They have an alarm function so if I leave them in all night they wake me in the morning. They are expensive but I love them.
posted by hilaryjade at 11:32 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I agree that you may be surprised at what foam flooring or carpet can do; even if he's banging, a lot of the noise could be the floors creaking, and that can be dramatically reduced when the weight is spread out on a rug or padded surface. And honestly, even if it doesn't work, it doesn't hurt for them to work on encouraging him to stay in bed when he wakes up at night.

I have a light up alarm clock--it's lovely. It's not a slow light--it just turns on a quite bright light (but pointed at the ceiling, not at my face), which wakes me up nicely. It also turns on a clock radio a few seconds later, but the light wakes me up very gently.
posted by gideonfrog at 11:35 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

You seem to have a good attitude about this but I would urge you to confront the problem a little more directly:

1. If the kid is stomping after 11:45pm as you say, that's a big problem. You should ask the parents for as much quiet as possible after say 10:30pm. (I don't have kids but I was under the impression that toddlers should mostly not be staying up till midnight every night).
2. You should definitely ask for thick carpeting in the kid's room, it might help at least a little.
3. I use earplugs every night, set my alarm to the loudest setting and have it close to my head, and have never once missed an alarm. Earplugs don't really filter out such loud noise.
posted by loquacious crouton at 11:43 AM on January 16, 2019 [9 favorites]

Kids can't help being active, and this one will grow out of the worst of it eventually. In the meantime, get some ridiculous rifle-range-level hardcore earplugs and use a combination of a bed-shaking alarm AND a light-up alarm. A few are reviewed here. Use all the tips and tricks that a person with hearing loss would use. Just accept that for now, at night, you're deaf. Put the alarms to use for the first time over a weekend so you can work through your anxiety about sleeping through them.

During your evening wind-down, before you are ready to actually pop in the earplugs and go to sleep, try some white noise generators. I have a blend of noise generators and music streams that I use and it blocks 95% of everything for me. I open all three of these in different tabs and let them play at the same time:
lofi Youtube stream
rain on a tin roof
jungle life
It’s crazy soothing to me and really great white noise. It's non-intrusive enough that I can turn it up pretty loud and really drown out the world. Headphones are best of all but even played over the speakers it helps. These particular generators might not be optimal for you - you'll find your own perfect mix.

Good luck! I used to sleep in a loft bed right underneath a four-year-old who slept in the same room as a heavy snorer. It was torture. I know it wasn't malicious but it was awful.
posted by DSime at 12:06 PM on January 16, 2019

As a parent, I think it is reasonable for you to approach your neighbors in a non-confrontational way about the stomping. I don't think regular midnight stomping is something that is totally in the realm of normalcy (as opposed to say 3:30 pm running back and forth). I think you can be honest about what's disturbing you and when and offering a couple of solutions for them to consider. It's possible they aren't aware of the amount of noise the kid is making and would be happy to try to soften the noise. I'm not your neighbor, but I'd want to be reasonably accommodating for any shared living spaces. I'd also want to make my kiddo aware about how apartment living works.
posted by LKWorking at 12:10 PM on January 16, 2019 [11 favorites]

Also, don't think of it as a burden to ask the parents for some help. It may help them with toddler to be like, "Blueberrypuffin is sleeping! Quiet down!"
posted by frecklefaerie at 12:30 PM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have been the parent with thumpy kids above sainted, delightful neighbors, and a non-confrontational mention that you can hear them running is a good thing. After my extremely tolerant downstairs neighbors brought it up in the elevator once, I did use the neighbors' comfort as an incentive/reminder for the kid. OTOH, not being aggressive about it, the way you're naturally inclined to be, is also a good thing -- even if running around late at night isn't 'normal', it may be very hard for the parents to change.

I wish I knew what to say about the attitude adjustment, because I have the attitude you wish you had. I grew up in an apartment across a busy street from a hospital with ambulances and sirens, and while my hearing is fine, I have no problem at all not paying attention to any noise (not actually deafeningly loud) that's not in the room with me. But I don't know how you develop that, other than growing up someplace noisy.
posted by LizardBreath at 1:49 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have very noisy kids on one side, and loud music playing partiers on the other. Whenever I find myself overcome by homicidal rage about it, I think of all the obnoxiously loud sex my neighbours have had to endure from my side, and how glad I am they never knocked on my door (or banged the wall) in response.

So my advice is to get laid, contribute to the rich carcophony that is communal living, and hopefully beat some tension in the process.
posted by Dwardles at 2:09 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have had 3 stompy toddlers so I am extremely tolerant knowing that the parent is not happy about it either and of course they too would like toddler to be asleep at 11:30pm. (Why is the toddler up those late hours?) I sleep with noise cancelling headphones on sometimes that are connected to my phone via bluetooth. Alarm rings (or plays) through the headset. Never miss an alarm.
posted by AugustWest at 2:14 PM on January 16, 2019

I have five kids and live on the third (top) floor of an apartment. Our apartment complex has quiet hours, so *all* noise is supposed to be minimized after 10. See if your complex has a similar rule, then you'll have a legitimate reason to complain if the stomping is late at night.
posted by tacodave at 4:08 PM on January 16, 2019

Regarding question 2, I sleep with high noise reduction earplugs regularly (my fave) and wake up with a light clock which does a gradual 20 minute sunrise (adjustable) and then plays chirping bird audio (also adjustable). I also use the sunset function every night. It is an expensive clock but I've had it for 7+ years and it is in great shape.
posted by esoterrica at 4:41 PM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Can't really help with the attitude adjustment, but listening to podcasts via IEMs has given me the ability to sleep through basically anything (+blindfold if I need to sleep somewhere not-dark). If needed I can wake myself up with the alarm through the IEMs.
posted by ToddBurson at 6:22 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I use sleepphones to listen to podcasts at night to help me fall asleep, especially when my young neighbours are having a reasonable but loud party on a Saturday night, and I (the oldest woman on earth) am going to bed at 10pm. I'm not sure it will work for you, but they are cheap to try out. They usually slip off when I'm sleeping but I've never had an issue not hearing the radio alarm come on in the morning.
posted by girlpublisher at 6:29 AM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I easily wake up wearing very effective earplugs to my alarm. It cuts right through because it's by my head and higher pitched. It won't be a problem for you. Your body will recognize the sound.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:34 AM on January 17, 2019

Kiddos are gonna kiddo, so asking the parents to reduce the stomping, or to switch rooms with him seem unreasonable to me (right?), especially given they already have their hands full with a super active toddler.

I wouldn't, like, be a jerk about this, but if the kid's bedroom is just above yours, and this is happening at 11:45pm--have you said something at any point previously? It's one thing to be fussy, but in this case, it seems like there's a more-than-theoretical possibility that the parents themselves are asleep at that hour and that this is more disruptive to your sleep than it is to theirs, so they might not be aware that he's up, or at least that he's up as often as he apparently is. Which might be a thing they'd want to deal with for reasons other than your comfort. If you haven't at least dropped them a note with some details about when it's happening, I'd do that.
posted by Sequence at 9:48 AM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thanks all for the thoughtful answers! Especially appreciate those who chimed in about how above parents might even like to be notified about this, never thought about it that way!
posted by blueberrypuffin at 10:56 AM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

« Older Will my boss know if I apply for another job...   |   how do I forgive myself? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.