When Roommates Have Different Sleep Schedules

Nothing tears roommates apart quite like different sleep schedules. It doesn’t matter how strong your friendship is with your roommate, if they’re constantly waking you up or depriving you of sleep, you’re probably going to come to resent them for it.

If you yourself are the sleep offender, it’s time to change your ways (or show this article to your roommate to help them change theirs, if the roles are reversed). Whether you’re a night owl or you have to wake up hours before your roommate for an 8 a.m. class, the tips below should keep you from disturbing your roommate:

If you wake up early…

Move your alarm across the room.

If you wake your roommate up in the mornings by allowing your alarm clock to go off repeatedly and hitting the snooze several times in a row, an easy solution is to simply move your alarm to a location across the room. Oftentimes, habitual snooze-pushers don’t even realize they’ve turned off their alarms numerous times (waking up their roommate in the process) because they’re so groggy from sleep. Forcing yourself to crawl out of bed and walk to the other side of the room to stop the noise will likely keep you out of bed the first time, thereby saving your roommate from listening to your alarm twenty times in a row two hours before their own alarm is set to go off.

Open your curtains.

Opening your curtains is another effective way to ensure that you wake up the first or second time you hear your alarm. Waking up in a pitch black room makes it extremely tempting to stay in bed and increases the likelihood that you’ll hit snooze and wait for your alarm to go off again, but if you allow a little sunlight to enter your room in the morning, it helps to convince your brain and body that it is, in fact, time to wake up. Natural light energizes you, and feeling energized in the morning helps to set you up for a great day.

Leave at the room.

Another way to keep yourself from hitting the snooze button a hundred times is to simply leave the room as soon as you wake up. Don’t think about it; just do it! Convincing yourself that you deserve to skip your morning shower in favor of extra slumber will only tempt you into waiting for your alarm to go off again. Forcing yourself to leave the room and head straight for the bathroom or to get a drink of water decreases the likelihood that you’ll fall back asleep and let your alarm wake your roommate. Banish all thoughts of additional sleep from your mind as soon as you wake up, and think only of getting up on your feet and walking out the door. Hopefully, your dorm’s fluorescent college-student-studyinghallway lights will shock you into lucidity.

Gather your things the night before.

If it’s your morning routine and not your alarm that wakes your roommate in the morning, the solution is simple: Gather the things you’ll need in the morning the night before. This not only saves time; it also decreases noise. Pick out your outfit (complete with socks, shoes, and accessories) the night before, and set them neatly on your desk or another easy-to-access location. Packing your bag for class with your books, binders, and laptop is also a smart choice. If you wear makeup or blowdry your hair, set the supplies out the night before as well, and do it in the bathroom instead of in your bedroom. This saves your roommate from tossing and turning in the morning trying to ignore the sound of you digging around in your dresser, closet, and desk as you get ready to leave.

If you stay up late…

Find another place to go.

Unfortunately, if you’re a night owl, your sleep habits are the abnormal ones, not your roommate’s. Therefore, the polite thing to do is to simply find another place to go and let your roommate sleep in peace. If you need to study or read, the library is an obvious choice. If the library is closed, consider heading to an all-night diner or other reasonably quiet location. If you play video games or watch television at night, try doing it at a friend’s place, a friend who shares your same sleep habits.

Find another light source.

This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people wake their sleeping roommates by insisting on turning on the overhead light. Simply put, this is incredibly selfish. Use a small lamp for light, or turn on the television. Flashlights and cell phones are also viable options.

Invest in headphones.

If you stay up late watching television or internet videos, a simple solution is to purchase a pair of headphones. While this is great for your laptop, you obviously won’t want to be wired into your TV as you relax at night, so consider investing in a pair of wireless headphones. They’re easy to find, and a cheap pair can be purchased for around $20 online.

Having different sleep patterns from your roommate doesn’t mean that you two will always be at odds. It’s hard to be upset with someone who’s done everything in their power to avoid disturbing you, so your roommate should understand if you wake them by accident every once in awhile. Just be respectful. By doing everything you can to wake up quietly in the morning and be as unobtrusive as possible at night, you can carry on with your habits while your roommate sleeps soundly.


  1. This is kinda biased since it’s clearly written by an early bird.

  2. True, the content is biased, not worth the time to read.

  3. Most of the “owls” are simply too lazy to have a normal healthy schedule.

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