Picture this: It's 1am and you're trying to get to sleep. You've got a new job interview tomorrow and you want to be bright and perky for it.
But you. Just. Can't. Sleep. All you can hear is the incessant sound of a…
We can think of a few noises we like hearing as we drift off to sleep. The rolling of the waves on a beach. The sounds of quiet forest around us. A gently purring kitten.
But, it turns out, when it comes to the noises keeping us awake we all react a little differently.
For women, the noise most likely to keep you awake is a crying baby. Which is understandable if it's your own baby, but in today's close-quarter, city dwelling it's also possible you'll be kept awake by neighbours squalling babe.
However, for men a baby's crying doesn't even register in their top ten annoying noises. They're way more likely to be woken by howling wind, a car alarm or buzzing fly.
And while you may put this down to men just pretending to be asleep when the baby cries, researchers say it actually comes down to subconscious brain activity.
They posit that a woman's maternal instinct kicks in when she hears a baby wailing, whether she's the parent or not.
Meanwhile, men are more likely to respond to noises that represent a threat to the family (although that doesn't really explain the fly thing…).
The research was conducted by MindLab, a British neuromarketing research firm. They played various sounds to sleeping volunteers and measured their brain activity on an electroencephalography (EEG) machine to see how the noises affected their sleep.
If noise is regularly keeping you awake there are a few solutions you can try. Obviously, if it's something like a dripping tap or ticking clock, your best option is to fix it or move it to another room.
But if it's something outside then you'll need to do something to block the noise.
You can buy fancy white noise machines to block out the noise. These work by creating an even, low hiss sound that masks external sounds. Other machines can play noises like a rainforest, underwater sounds or waves crashing on a beach.
If you're not keen to shell out for a new machine for the bedroom, a fan works just as well and plays double duty by keeping bug disturbance to a minimum.
Look, they take some getting used to, but earplugs are an effective way of blocking out just about all sound – from next door's late-night party sesh to your partner's snoring. Grab the squishy foam ones from the pharmacy and pop them in for a good night's sleep.
Say the roadworks company have decided to hold early morning drilling competitions right out the front of your house, or the local sparrows have decided you bedroom windowsill is the perfect love nest for their coupling. If you've got a spare bedroom in another area of the house then a temporary move might be the solution to a restful sleep.
And while a shared bed is the bastion on a loved-up relationship, if your partner's nocturnal rumblings are keeping you awake, there's nothing wrong with deciding to sleep in separate bedrooms. Especially if this means you'll feel like giving them a loving hug in the morning, rather than a kick in the shins.
What noise do you find most annoying when you’re trying to sleep?