While many people worldwide focus on atmospheric or land pollution across the world, they sometimes overlook the ever-important noise pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it’s one of the most dangerous environmental threats to health.
Drivers honking horns, groups of workers drilling the road surface, aircraft flying over us in the sky are all examples of noise pollution. Not only does it hurt humans, but it is also terrible for animals too.
According to the National Park Service (NPS) in the United States, noise pollution has an enormous environmental impact and seriously damages wildlife. Experts say noise pollution can interfere with breeding cycles and rearing and is even hastening the extinction of some species.
Not All Sound is Noise Pollution
Not all sound is considered noise pollution. The WHO defines noise above 65 decibels (dB) as noise pollution. To ger more precise, noise becomes harmful when it exceeds 75 dB and is painful above 120 dB.
There are many sources of noise pollution, but the main ones are traffic, air traffic, construction sites, nightlife, and animals.
It is recommended noise levels be kept below 65 dB during the day. But at night, it is said that restful sleep is impossible with nighttime ambient noise levels above 30 dB.
Let us here at Hearing Associates of Las Vegas break it down for you.
Noise Pollution and Sleep
Exposure to too much noise during sleep has immediate effects while sleeping, which leads to short-term issues the next day, and over time may result in long-term mental and physical consequences.
Noises at night might wake you up, and a fragmented night’s sleep is less refreshing. Even noises that don’t wake you up have subconscious effects on sleep by changing the time we spend in specific sleep stages.
Sleep stages are defined as the different types of sleep we cycle through each night, ranging from lighter stages (1 and 2) to deep (slow-wave) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM).
A study of circadian rhythms in mice showed an increased sensitivity to noise trauma at night compared to during the day. The researchers hypothesize this sensitivity may apply to the human circadian rhythm.
Poor Sleep and Health Consequences
Getting sufficient undisturbed sleep is critical for feeling good and performing well. Although you’re unlikely to notice subtle changes to your sleep structure and biochemical experience of sleep, these changes can manifest the next day in ways that are more pronounced. Sleepiness, irritability, and poor mental health are associated with exposure to nighttime noise the night before.
Poor quality sleep over a long period is also linked with high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
What Can You Do?
In a city, it’s common to deal with the sounds of traffic, sirens, airplanes, or people gathering outside. Even in suburban or rural settings, you are unlikely to be wholly isolated from noisy appliances, cars, neighbors, and animals during the night.
Creating a bedroom space that’s as supportive of a quiet night’s sleep as possible is a critical part of good sleep hygiene. It may be wise to add soft surfaces so that sound can be absorbed throughout your living spaces.
Adding rugs, cushioned furniture, or thick curtains to your bedroom might help block or lessen noise both coming in from the street and from within your house.
If loud noises infiltrate your bedroom from the outside, it may be wise to install soundproof windows and seal any air gaps in the windows you have. It is also essential to keep track of the noises from your appliances.
Depending on your living situation, you may not be able to soundproof your bedroom physically. Earplugs are an effective tool as long as they don’t interfere with your ability to sleep.
An alternative to earplugs is to find small, comfortable noise-canceling headphones designed to block out noise and allow you to introduce relaxing sounds that could help you sleep.
The best night sounds for sleeping can vary from one person to the next, but consider utilizing loud enough white noise to cover other noises and maintain an even tone and volume, as sudden sound changes could cause you to wake up. It might help to experiment with a few and see what works for you.
Whatever you decide, it is vital to find the sleep schedule that is right for you. A combination of your job or your family might be keeping you in a noisy environment that makes it difficult for you to get healthy sleep, but there is always something you can do about it.
While tackling this problem may seem daunting, there are millions of people all over the world that have had to deal with a similar situation.
Getting a Hearing Evaluation
If you or anyone else you know is experiencing signs or symptoms of hearing loss or tinnitus, it might be time to have a hearing evaluation. Something as simple as a quick evaluation could be the difference between having healthy hearing or potentially losing one of your senses.