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Background:
I'm a university student (USA) that currently shares an apartment with 5 other people, 2 people to each room. Typically, I have to get up early to go to work and then go to school after that. This means that I go to sleep much earlier than most people my age (around 10:30 P.M. most nights), so I can function at work in the morning. My roommates operate quite differently (going to bed after 1 A.M. most nights). Our walls are extremely thin, so if they are having a lively conversation, or if they are watching something, it bleeds right into my room. Additionally, my room roommate will burst into the room in the middle of the night, turning on the lights, waking me up from my half-sleep, as he tries to get to sleep himself.

This morning was a breaking point for me. Apparently, three of my roommates stayed up the entire night, burst into my room at 5:30 in the morning (shortly before I would normally wake up), waking up my other roommate, so that they could tell him of their night's escapades and go eat breakfast.

How can I let my roommates know that their noise is affecting my sleep in a tactful way that won't make them see me as a stick-in-the-mud (I consider these people my friends)?

TL;DR: How can I tell my roommates they are being too loud without them hating me?

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I'd definitely frame this topic with a focus on you and the effects that the situation has had on you, rather than talking to them out of anger. Something like...

Hey, guys, I have a problem. I've been so sleepy lately that getting through the day has been a painful struggle. Work is getting hard because of it, and so is school. I was wondering if you guys could help.

This way, you're not being angry or accusatory, but you're laying out your needs and non-judgmentally expressing why you need the change that you need. This should minimize any chance that they'll react adversely or consider you a stick-in-the-mud. No one likes to feel crappy, and most people can empathize with that.

Of course the next step is to identify what's interrupting your sleep - and again, talk about the actions, not the people, and do so in as non-judgmental a manner as you can.

It wakes me up a lot when the light comes on at night when (room-roommate) gets home late. And when the TV is on in the other room, or people are talking, the sound goes right through the wall and wakes me up.

For most people, this will again feel less like an attack and more like you're identifying problems. Of course different people will interpret the same communication very differently, so I can't guarantee that no one would react badly to that. But from here, you've drawn out the problem and can move on to requesting a change in behavior - or brainstorming solutions to make it feel more collaborative.

So I'm trying to figure out how to get better sleep going forward. What do you guys think? Maybe (room-roommate) could come in with his phone light instead of the overhead light, or the TV could be turned down, or something?

If you make it clear that you're looking to solve a problem and not control the behavior of your roommates, then they're much more likely to engage positively and constructively - and someone might even come up with a solution to a problem that you might not have thought of. And you can go ahead and suggest the obvious if they aren't engaging, or aren't effectively engaging, in the conversation.

Of course, no solution will be a magic wand. The room-roommate coming in when he comes in might still keep you up, and there may simply not be a good solution to that. The roommates in general - who of course I don't know - may not bear the empathy needed to respect your problems. And even if they come up with a strategy to reduce their impact on you, sticking to that strategy might be hard! But this might be a start.

  • This is a great approach. My roommates already try to minimize the noise (since I explained to them my schedule up front), so I think this will work great. Thanks for the suggestion. – Joe-You-Know Sep 20 '18 at 16:20

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