My latest experiment to temper the mysterious vibration that shakes me awake each night came from a random conversation with a stranger. When I told him of my dilemma, he suggested applying a vibration directly to the bed that would effectively neutralize the irritating one. “Place a speaker’s bass subwoofer right against the bed frame and see if you can find a frequency that will counteract the one that bothers you.” He was suggesting a primitive version of an expensive device I’d read about in rather esoteric acoustical sites: a mass-tuned damper. It had a certain logic. WHY NOT TRY IT?

First, I rigged my old Harman Kardon Soundsticks Speaker System so that the big subwoofer was pressed against the wooden bed frame. I placed the speakers themselves outside the closed bedroom door as I didn’t actually want to HEAR the sound, I only wanted the vibration to act on the bed. (Unfortunately, the Soundstick speakers need to be playing music in order for the subwoofer to work.)

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Next I hunted for apps that would allow me to play a single frequency. With Tone Generator I could choose from an endless number of frequencies and wave shapes (who KNEW that sound waves have shapes…!!!). I downloaded it to my iPad which would send sound through the speaker system. I had the app at-the-ready when the vibration started early in middle of the night.

Tone Generator Pro

Wearing tried-and-true  E-A-R Yellow Neon Blasts Earplugs, I tested different tones until I found one that neutralized the disturbing bed vibration and would allow me to sleep.

EAR soft yellow neon blasts ear plugs

This method worked but proved a bit cumbersome to implement. Plus there was no getting around hearing, if only faintly, the single 107 hertz tone that neutralized the vibration. Since in theory sound is vibration and acts on the inner ear, I wondered if I could get a similar effect by wearing ear buds and playing the tone right into my ears.

I’d recently invested in a pair of the amazing Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones. You flip a little switch and they really cancel a great deal of ambient noise. Using the headphones with Noise Cancelling turned on and no music is likely instantly going into a quiet room…perfect for mediation or relaxing.  Listening to music or sounds through them shifts the way we hear.

First I tried the headphones using the Tone Generator frequency I had found. It did indeed work to make me no longer feel the vibration, but the single tone wasn’t very pleasant to sleep to.

Bose noise cancelling ear buds

A friend did some research and came upon the amazing My Noise website (and app) which offers an array of sounds and beats designed to change brain wave patterns (to cure everything from tinnitus to stress states). I downloaded quite a few in addition to the basic ones that come with the app.

myNoiseApp screenshot rain

Using colored sliders, you can tailor the sounds or beats to your liking, or chose from a list of alternate options and variations on the beats and sounds.

myNoiseApp screenshot binaural beat

After much testing, Rain Noise with Distant Thunder listened through the Bose head-phones with noise-cancelling ON somehow distracted and soothed my brain, countering the irritating bed vibration, allowing me to sleep. (Listening to the sound without Noise Cancelling does not have the same effect, however.)

Until I discover where the vibration comes from, OR heal my nervous-system enough to not feel the vibration, this is the system I use to get some sleep when the bed starts vibrating, a huge relief.

NOTE: After much trial and error, I did find a simple, inexpensive way to dampen the vibration coming through my bed. You can read about it here.

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4 replies on “Vibrating Bed Fix: Fight Vibration with Vibration and/or Custom Sound

  1. …And I had just ordered a bunch of rubber squares from Canal Rubber on Thursday! Lol
    Just caught this article, so happy that you found such an ingenious fix! (at least until the vibration source is detected and solved)
    I am curious, are you using the subwoofer and the earplugs at the same time? I happen to have those exact earplugs, and wear them at night with no sound but just the noise cancellation activated to drown out the low frequency noise that accompanies the vibrations in my apartment.
    I’m going to try and play around with that sound application you downloaded and see if it works without the woofer, first attempt will be tonight when the vibrations strike again.. fingers, eyes and toes are crossed.
    You’re a saint for posting your progress with this issue, and you were super kind to reply to my last post about the rubber/yoga blocks. If the earplugs alone don’t work I’ll have to pick myself up a woofer.
    Thank you again. Enjoy your sleep!!

  2. It can’t hurt to pad your bed with rubber squares AND use the vibration technique if necessary.
    Currently, I find that JUST using the noise-cancelling earphones with a pleasing sound works. The sound that works for me is Rain with Distant Thunder.

    When I used the sub-woofer I wore the yellow ear plugs because the subwoofer cannot work without the speakers and I found actually listening to the single-hertz sound full-on disturbing. I also found noise-cancelling earphones set on just “noise-cancelling” to work equally well.

    Please keep me posted on what works for you. I’ve taken the time to post my experiments becaue I’ve discovered that many people are disturbed by vibrations and it is not always possible to find the source.

    Of HUGE help has been swapping my metal bed frame for a wooden one; I can’t emphasise that enough.

    If you are a very sensitive person, it can also help to turn off all computers, tv (unplug) and wifi; having these off can help to calm the nervous system that has been activated by the disturbing vibration.

    Good luck.

  3. Do you live in an apartment? I have vibrations coming through my floor that are very disturbing to me, and it turns out that they’re from the downstairs neighbor’s ceiling fan.

  4. I’m having this happen as well. I live alone in a ranch style home. It happens when I’m on my couch sitting as well and it’s as if a kid in the school bus behind you is pushing on the seat at times. I’ve always had odd things occur around me and my personal electrical field but it has worsened to the point of annoying and distracting. Like the bed and couch are breathing or something!! I think it’s related to the electromagnetics of the area I live in but I can’t know for sure. Just a gut feeling I get. I just want sleeeeep

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