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Context:

My sibling (mid-20s) takes a shower and brushes their teeth late at night, normally between midnight and 1:30 AM). This usually wakes me up, because we are living in a "Jack and Jill" set up (shared bathroom between our bedrooms).

I would like to think the best way to approach this would be to simply explain my problem of sleep being interrupted and offer solutions, but it's ignored.

I suppose they believe I don't need so much sleep (I find I need 8-10 hours), and that I should act like my sibling and stay up late.


Some Related-ish Details:

They are plenty of "issues" with my sibling, enough that I could make a whole new post! But in summary, using the term from Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Effective People, my sibling lives a very "pleasure-centered" life; they "hate waking up," and this may be part of why they sleep late: not wanting to wake up to have to deal with another day. (They tend to wake up in the early afternoon.)

I haven't really dealt with their "issues", as I'm not the parent. But I do have some resentment due to my sibling's dislike of me and their refusal to share in childhood, and I've also been very busy with my own share of work (school and work terms). I don't find I have as much time or interest to drown in video games and shows, which is what my sibling is interested in.

My sibling doesn't seem to care about anything besides enjoying their debaucherous lifestyle of doing whatever they want whenever they want. They have a part-time job, play a lot of video games, watch movies/TV, and are constantly browsing the net. They don't really contribute to the household chores either, and don't care about anything our parents try to get them to do. My parents seem more and more resigned to this as time passes.

I haven't been living in this house for very long as I've been very busy doing school and work terms elsewhere.


Possible solutions/approaches and my thoughts on why they may fail.

I thought it would be best to propose a few solutions to my sibling rather than nag them about the problem.

  1. Ask my sibling to shower and brush and their teeth in our grandparent's bathroom instead, which is downstairs, so it won't wake me up.

    Caveats: They probably don't even want to walk down there despite the short distance...plus it smells like old people. They'll also probably flip the tables and ask me why I can't sleep in our grandparent's room. Also, this maybe isn't really fair to my grandparent, since they'd possibly be woken up. (Though they're quite old- late 90s in age, dementia, etc.- and hard of hearing.)

  2. Ask my sibling to shower and brush their teeth earlier, even going as far as to ask them to do it every day ~10PM.

    Caveats: Done this before they don't really care, and even when I nag them to do it earlier. Plus, they might be "too busy" in the middle of an online game they can't pause, or want to finish an entire movie/TV episode. Like many humans, they don't like being told what to do or asked to do something.

    In fact, months ago I did say something along the lines of "hey can you shower earlier so it happens before I try to sleep?" And the reaction was annoyance and disbelief, and though they said that they'd do it, nothing ended up happening.

  3. Get parents to ask my sibling to shower and brush their teeth earlier.

    Caveats: They'll just ignore it as usual, or pay lip service temporarily- My interpretation is their habit and endless debauchery is more important than my sleep. This solution doesn't do anything to make my sibling do the right thing consistently.

  4. I go sleep in the basement where I'll be stuck dealing with the noise of the water tank and heater instead.

    This could attempt to avoid the problem but it doesn't really solve the problem of a lack of respect, and I don't like the idea of letting my sibling just walk over everyone else in the house and setting another precedent of they can do whatever they want and everyone else has to work around them. And the problem doesn't necessarily get solved either, as now I have the water tank and heater to deal with instead.

    I suppose I can try them all. I have previously slept with earplugs however I don't enjoy it and don't want to be wasting money on it. Ultimately I feel rather pessimistic as I don't understand how you can really negotiate with a party that doesn't really care or consider your needs reasonable.


Later I hope to move out once I get full-time work elsewhere, but that'll be in the future. I would appreciate any advice I can get, perhaps I am approaching the problem wrong and I must solve other related problems.


I previously read Crucial Conversations a long time ago but I still feel like I'm at a loss for how to approach this.


So, how can I best approach my sibling and ask them to shower and brush their teeth at an earlier time so they don't wake me up.


Edit: Upon proposing solution 1 and 2 to my sibling I was brushed off with as many "yep" and "yeahs" quickly to get rid of me, as I was interrupting them in a turn-based card game, which doesn't demand immediate undying attention in my opinion.

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    I think you have the premise of a solid question here, but it may need to be tweaked a little bit. It looks like you might be bordering on a “how do I convince..?” question, which would be off topic here. See this meta question for more. Best of luck!
    – scohe001
    Apr 28, 2018 at 21:08
  • "2. Ask sibling to shower and brush teeth earlier, even going as far as to ask them to do it everyday ~10PM, again." - Could you explain specifically what you said (when introducing the idea) and how they initially reacted?
    – Jesse
    Apr 30, 2018 at 6:23
  • @scohe001 tweaked title about how to best approach sibling as suggested in your link, my plan is to approach with proposed solutions as listed before May 3, 2018 at 3:15
  • @Jesse Updated question with the information, should be in bold, thank you for your suggestion May 3, 2018 at 3:15
  • Would sleeping with a white noise generator be a workaround for you?
    – rrauenza
    May 3, 2018 at 4:13

3 Answers 3

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I would attempt honesty without blaming or accusing. It sounds like resentment has built up between you and your sibling, because of his/her irresponsibility and lack of respect for himself and the other family members.

It might pose some risk to you to be honest with him/her, because it might just increase your anger and resentment. The important thing is to realize that his/her behavior is not a reflection of you or your worth as a person.

Knowing that, approach him/her rationally, and state the facts regarding your sleep difficulties due to his/her shower habits. Include the fact that your sleep schedule is not flexible, but his/her shower schedule is much more so, and that it is possible for the two of you to solve the problem.

Avoid accusing him/her, or allowing the conversation to divert from the subject at hand. If the subject drifts off course, just bring it back on focus. If (s)he will not hear what you have to say, or only pays lip service, and later reverts to his/her previous behavior, I would opt to use ear plugs while you sleep.

You mention the cost of ear plugs as being a barrier to their use, but they are available at very low prices ($0.14/pair), and my experience is that one pair can be used daily for months or even years.

I had to wear earplugs for six weeks due to construction of a new sewer behind my house. They worked perfectly. The other thing you could try is background noise, like a fan, to drown out the shower.

That might be the best option if you choose not to risk further aggravation dealing with your sibling.

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    Earplugs are horrible to wear all night. This is not a long term solution. It's better to talk to the sibling, because making noise in the deep night time is against common rules of society and should be avoided.
    – puck
    Apr 29, 2018 at 6:03
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There is no best approach for this. I doubt there is an approach that will work, or at least get you the result you desire.

I get the feeling there is a lot of silent hate/ resentment between you two, or at the very least from you to your sibling. This may very well be 'deserved', but keep in mind that hate is never a useful emotion to spend time and effort on.

Here is what I suggest;

Try to see things from their perspective, I bet that they feel as if they are getting 'shit on' from all sides. Even though that is clearly not the case, that does not change the way they feel. And the way they feel is what governs how they react and live their life. Your parents must sense/ realise up to a certain point that something is amiss with your sibling but probably don't understand it, neither do you. As you see them as losing themselves in debauchery and see them as a hedonist. But I am pretty sure something is at the base of these issues. While being negative and/or offensive will feel justified, it will not help you further. Try to make some middle grounds every now and then, and perhaps things will better.

For this particular issue and situation, I don't think there is an easy way to get the result you want. Your sibling is too apathetic/ lazy to care for your needs and take whatever little effort that is needed to accommodate to your wishes. Your parents will not be of much help for this, and your sibling knows, they rather take a bit more whining from the parents for a short while then changing long term.

So, disregard everything I said before, and play it brutal. They like to stay up late and dislike waking up but don't care for your sleep rhythm at all. So why should you care for theirs? Wake up at the crack of dawn, get in the joined bathroom, and do everything. Shower, brush your teeth, whatever and be as loud as can be. Put on some music, sing as you shower. Neighbour is mowing the lawn? open the windows. Need something from your mom? Scream down the stairs instead of walking over to them.

Play the same game and do it twice as hard. It won't take long before they come to you to complain and then you can bargain. It will take a few cycles of this before they actually change something because they need to 'learn' it will also benefit themselves.

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Living in close confines with other people is not something most people get away from early in life. With exceptions of course, many young people move out of family homes into shared student accommodation. Most people's first home of their own is small and if it isn't shared then it is often close to other people's accommodation, sharing walls or ceilings/floors. The point I am making is that if you were to get away from your sibling, you might find yourself dealing with the same or worse. It is important to think about this when approaching an interpersonal solution because you must be reasonable in what you ask of them, and arguably what is reasonable is only what you could expect of other people in a similar situation.

From the information you give I would say that your conflict is not really about how your sibling thinks you should live, but about how they want to live themselves.

My suggestion, given that you have already tried talking to them, is just to live your life to your routine and see if you can't impact on your sibling's routine the way you feel their lifestyle is impacting on yours. See, their showering at 1am is waking you up. But presumably if you rose at 7am and showered this would wake them! I appreciate you said they often stay in bed until 2pm so they could just go back to sleep for the day. But could you spend some time at home - enjoy your own space the way you want to, play some music, live your life? If they can't sleep during the day then maybe they'll have to sleep at night like you do.

If the above suggestion sparks a discussion from your sibling, perhaps address it like this:

You must agree that you and I live to very different routines. I sleep at night and I work during the day. Your routine disturbs me as much as mine disturbs yours. If you can't go to bed earlier than you do, could you at least shower before I go to bed so it doesn't disturb me?

You cannot let other people's life dictate yours. Unless you can afford to buy your own fully detached house in a quiet neighborhood then this is something you may face again, only next time it wont be your sibling you have to talk to about it.

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