I have a great sensitivity to noise and use earplugs etc for sleep and have fans going, but unfortunately due to various limitations including finances, I need to stay where I am at present, which is next to both a police and fire station. It really is unbearable. I don't much mind the police sirens, like yelping ones, especially during the day, but do hate the "wail" ones used by firetrucks and ambulances at night, so those are the primary ones.

One of the things I try sometimes is try to listen to real loud music but that also causes me stress and does not exactly cancel out the siren noise which I can still hear.

Should I look for a particular frequency or decibel level or pitch or something? I really don't know much about sound I have downloaded white noise, brown and pink and a few others to try to figure out if any of them can mostly cancel it out so I don't wake up at night, but I have realized there is much to sound I don't know and decided to post here, hope it's the right forum, I guess I could also post in engineering or health related section, but either way, appreciate considerate and constructive help for my situation. Thank you.

  • Nightmare! Do the earplugs not work then?
    – n00dles
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 16:56
  • unfortunately not
    – Raymond
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 21:52

2 Answers 2


White noise etc don't cancel the sound - they tend to work by drowning out the sound. I have successfully used noisy fans to do this.

It can be quite effective as your ear gets used to continuous sounds, but you may well find that the siren still cuts through. That is what a siren is designed to do: cut through the noise of traffic.

Noise cancellation headphones work by first blocking as much of the sound physically as possible, and then adding a phase reversed version of the sound into your ear so the phases cancel out. This works well, but only with headphones - you can't easily cancel sounds coming into a room.


What type of earplugs are you using? If it's just cheap standard foam / wax ones, then perhaps it'd be worth investing in a higher-end ones.

You can get ones that are custom-made for your own ears, that will be far more efficient than out-of-the-packet ones. There are various companies out there that offer this service - They will send you a mould kit, you make moulds of your ears and send them back, and they'll make the plugs from them. ProGuard is an example of one such company in the UK. They even do custom plugs designed for sleep (extra comfort when you lie on your side etc), though you could always go for the 'full block'-type model which replaces comfort with greater reduction. eg. the second pair linked offer a 32dB of protection, which is substantial.

If you don't live in the UK then there will be other similar companies near you; Search for 'audiologists'.

  • thanks for the comment and suggestions, I used these: amazon.com/3M-OCS1135-Yellow-Neons-Earplugs/dp/B008MCUOH2
    – Raymond
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 21:53
  • 1
    They seem to be more for protecting your ears from high noise levels, like shooting. Your sensitive ears will need, as Skarik says, more refined protection. With sirens, there is no low frequency component to travel through your skull, so I'd say you will be able to attenuate the sirens substantially with a better fitted plug.
    – n00dles
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 2:43
  • Thanks Marc and others, appreciate all the helpful advice I been getting, feel more encouraged and hopeful about this now.
    – Raymond
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 4:16
  • Aha! Then yes, I recommend you look at getting some custom-made earplugs. Depending on the quality of them you may be looking at spending $100-$150, but if the sirens are as stressfull and irritating to you as they sound like they are, then they'd be a good investment.
    – Skarik
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 6:20

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