In the densely populated island of Singapore, most Singaporeans live in HDB flats; a friendly and quiet neighbourhood is a blessing, but having a noisy and inconsiderate neighbour can get disruptive and annoying.
I was pushed to find a solution to block out the racket created by my upstairs neighbour, who contently allowed their preschool child to run and play around the house from the time they reached home at 11:00 pm to 3:00 am, regardless of it being weekends or weekdays. Another neighbour also loves to sing karaoke during the day, a second reason for me to look for a solution to block out the off-pitch pop music.
I block out the noise from the karaoke, dogs barking, and a child’s heavy footsteps with a Marpac Sound Machines to mask the noise.
What is White Noise, and how does it help you sleep better
A white noise machine produces noise that balances out ambient sounds, static, sudden noises like barking, loud cars driving and even your partner’s snoring. White noise also helps to relax you by providing you with a sound to focus on instead of stressful thoughts.
Sounds the Marpack Noise Machine Blocks out and Doesn’t
As the name suggests, I purchased the smaller version of the Marpac Rohm Portable Noise Machine and a portable, compact and easy-to-bring-around model. It has three soothing sounds, Bright white noise, Deep White noise and Gentle surf. It is a rechargeable appliance, and I find the buttons on the side easy to navigate and adjust to the type of sound and volume you desire.
Thankfully, the Gentle Surf and Bright white noise can block out the karaoke tunes. I use it in my study when I need to concentrate on work. However, I wished the deep white noise mode were just as effective in blocking out the unruly child who lives upstairs.
The Deep white noise can block out the child’s feet, stomping and jumping slightly when tuned to high volume, but sleeping is impossible as it feels like one is in a tornado the sound is just too loud and turbulent. Furthermore, the flats these days are not built the same way as my parent’s generation; the vibration and impact from the jumping are hard to ignore and jolt me awake.
Use White Noise safely.
As with every product, one must be cautious about how we use it; always check the manufacturer’s safety instructions. White noise machines can increase the risk of noise-related hearing loss when played for long periods at a high volume and damage your hearing, best if you can use it as background noise instead of foreground noise. One also can be dependent on sound to get to sleep, so try not to use it every night.
How I dealt with my noisy upstairs neighbour
Several times, I had to speak to my neighbour; they seemed like a lovely young couple. The child would stop creating a stir for a week and start again. I tapped the ceiling with a stick, and the child would pound even harder, wailing loudly only when the parents requested to stop.
I had no choice but to call the police on about five occasions. The town council also assisted in pasting posters on the walls of the lift to remind neighbours to be considerate. Only then did the parents get the child to play only in the living room and above my study, which I suspect is the child’s bedroom.
Quiet hours in Singapore start from 10:30 pm to 7:00 am, according to the Noise Regulations in Singapore. My family tolerate as much as we can during the day, as children will be children. In addition, most of the time, the neighbour is out during the day, so it didn’t matter to endure; just a couple of days in the week when you hear a child and their pet dog running around the apartment.
In conclusion, am I a fan of the white noise machine? To help me sleep, no, to help me concentrate when I am working while a neighbour is singing their heart out. Yes, I like the gentle surf sounds even at the lowest volume, as it relaxes me while drowning out my neighbour’s mini-concert.