How to Sleep when Your Parents Are Arguing

Three Methods:Sleeping Through Loud SoundsRecognizing the Impact of ArgumentsTalking with Your Parents

Almost every couple argues, and occasionally those arguments can get loud or heated. Usually couples can work out their disagreements by talking through the issues; however, they may occasionally yell or make loud noises by slamming doors or cupboards. The most important thing to remember is that the argument isn’t your fault and it’s not your responsibility. And, if the argument turns violent, it’s critical that you ensure your own safety. It’s normal to worry about your parents arguing, but you need to get some sleep so that you’re prepared for your own day tomorrow.

Method 1
Sleeping Through Loud Sounds

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    Drown out the sound. While you can probably sleep through low levels of sound, loud sounds like yelling can keep you awake. The best way to minimize the impact of loud sounds on your sleep is to drown out the sound. Ideally you’d use a sound machine, such as the kind that plays white noise or ocean waves. If you don’t have a sound machine, though, play soothing music at a low volume, which should help you sleep.[1]
    • Whatever noise you use to drown out the sound of your parents arguing, make sure that the volume isn’t too loud.
    • Classical music at a low volume is excellent to play when you’re trying to sleep.
    • If you have to use it, a television can help drown out noise. Bear in mind that a television may actually keep you awake, though.
    • As a last resort, if you choose to cover your ears with a pillow, make sure that you don’t obstruct your airway at all.
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    Move to another room. If your parents are arguing close to your room, go sleep in another room that’s further away from them. Moving to another room that’s further away should make it more difficult to hear them and easier for you to fall asleep. Make sure that you take your pillow and a blanket with you so that you’re warm and comfortable in the new room.[2]
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    Plug your ears. If your parents fight frequently or if you have difficulty sleeping through noise, you might benefit from a pair of ear plugs. Ear plugs are specially designed to fit safely in your ears while blocking out external sounds. Most earplugs will dull the sounds around you but still allow you to hear sounds right next to you, making them an ideal sleep aid.[3]
    • Earplugs are great to have for other reasons too. Invest in a good pair to take with you when you go to shows, loud parties, will be near construction, or even a sporting event.
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    Calm your mind with meditation. Meditation helps calm your mind, breathing, and pulse, and, fortunately, you don’t have to sit in a full lotus position to reap the benefits. By calming your mind and focusing on clearing your thoughts, you will come to accept the argument as part of the space that you’re in, as opposed to an act that is happening outside your room.[4]
    • Practice these techniques when the house is relatively quiet so that you can get used to doing them.
    • Close your eyes and calmly breathe, in and out through your nose, focusing on the air moving in and out of your body.
    • Consider where you are – the room, the bed, the house – and accept every sound, light, and piece of furniture as a part of that space. Your parents arguing are a part of that space.
    • Accept that the space is as it is and focus on clearing your mind of distracting thoughts while tuning out distracting noise.
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    Distract yourself. It may be that they are just too loud and that you can’t fall asleep. Consider distracting yourself. Distracting yourself allows you to focus your mental energies on something other than their argument and your sleep efforts. Hopefully the distraction will help you put their argument in the background so that you can eventually fall asleep.[5]
    • What’s in your room that you would enjoy doing or looking at?
    • Do you have music or books?
    • Or do you like to draw or color?

Method 2
Recognizing the Impact of Arguments

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    Understand that it's not your fault. The first thing to do is remember that even though your parents are arguing, it's not your fault. No matter how much it might seem that way. Blaming yourself for it just won't help anyone. Your parents are the adults and their argument is theirs. It’s not your fault and you should not feel guilty about them arguing.[6]
    • You may have done something wrong that you think started their argument. Accept responsibility and punishment for what you’ve done, and also remember that their argument is separate from your actions.
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    Don’t jump to conclusions. You may hear pieces of their argument, or you may hear what you believe is the whole thing. There is certainly more to the story than what you’re overhearing, though. Don’t jump to conclusions – don’t assume that anyone is moving, that anyone did anything wrong, or that your family dynamic is going to change. Let your parents have their argument and focus on getting to sleep.[7]
    • It’s normal to worry when your parents argue, and it’s also difficult not to jump to conclusions. Jut remind yourself that you don’t know the whole story and that worrying won’t do you or them any good.
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    Accept that you feel their argument. You might think that you’re not bothered by their argument and that you’d just like to get some sleep. Science shows that you will react to your parents’ distress, and that’s normal and healthy. Once you recognize that you will react to their distress, you can acknowledge the emotions and hopefully limit their impact on you.[8]
    • The most common reaction is anxiety, whether you realize that you’re feeling it or not.
    • You will likely have physical reactions too, such as increased heart rate and cortisol spikes, and these can definitely keep you awake.
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    Talk with someone. If you’re able, talk with someone – your friend, your pet, your sibling, even your stuffy. Who or what you talk to isn’t as important as the act of talking, which allows you to unburden yourself. You can talk about your feelings, your fears, your frustrations, and cry if necessary. You won't be alone. Nobody is going to judge you for talking about your feelings.[9]
    • If you have a phone and permission to be on it, call a friend.
    • Or, if you have permission to be on the computer, send them a message.
    • If it’s too late for you to be on any technological devices, talk to a stuffy, your pillow, the cosmos, just talk.

Method 3
Talking with Your Parents

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    Ask your parents to quiet down. If it’s safe to do so and you feel comfortable doing so, calmly let your parents know that you can hear their argument, that it’s upsetting you, and that it’s preventing you from going to sleep.[10]
    • Be calm and don’t accuse them of anything.
    • Only ask them to quiet down if you’re comfortable that you will be safe doing so.
    • “Mom and Dad, I know that you’re unhappy right now and that you’re trying to work that out. But I can hear you arguing and it’s keeping me awake. I really want to go to sleep now and am wondering if you might lower your voices please.”
    • You can also just say, “Please, stop arguing. You’re really upsetting me and I'm scared"
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    Tell them that you need resolution. Arguments are never pleasant, especially when you only overhear parts of the argument and don’t know the whole story or how everything ended up. Explain to your parents that you respect their space and that their argument is theirs, but that you need to know that they’ve achieved resolution about the issue.[11]
    • They may tell you that they’d prefer not to discuss it, and that’s something you’ll need to prepare for.
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    Tell them how you’re feeling. If it’s safe to approach them while your parents are arguing, you might choose to ask if they can talk with you about your feelings. You might, on the other hand, do best to wait until everyone has calmed down and they are likely to be more receptive to what you’re saying. No matter when you decide to have the conversation, letting your parents know how their arguing makes you feel will let them know that they are impacting you, and it might also help you sleep better because you’ll have talked with someone and gotten some resolution.[12]
    • Be calm and don’t accuse them of anything.
    • Tell them how you feel. “When you argue, I feel scared that one of you is going to leave. It makes me sad even after you’re done fighting.”
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    Protect yourself. If you suspect or know that the argument has turned violent, your safety must be your biggest priority. Don't confront your parents and don't attempt to separate them if they are in a physical altercation. If you fear for your (or another's) safety, you need to call for help.[13]
    • Call 911 if you are able. You might be afraid of getting in trouble, but remember, everyone's safety is your priority.
    • If you have siblings, quietly try to get everyone in the same room.
    • If you need to, get out of the house and get to safety - a neighbor's house, a friend or family member's house, or even the local police station.
    • Lock your door - this will block someone from freely entering your room.


  • Never get involved with an argument if there is violence.

Article Info

Categories: Stress Anxiety and Crisis Management