As the number of people living in cities continues to grow, more and more of us are being exposed to noise pollution. Noise pollution is, at the least, a nuisance. But could it also be harmful to your health? Studies say yes. We’ve got the possible health effects of noise pollution, as well as the steps you can take to minimize them.
What are the negative health impacts of noise?
It should come as no surprise that noise can disturb your sleep. Studies have found that people exposed to loud noises while they are sleeping are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night, or experience more changes in their sleep stages.
We all know that poor sleep can lead to low energy, changes in mood and decreased ability to concentrate, among other symptoms. Chronic sleep disturbance could lead to more severe problems.
High blood pressure
Exposure to noise can cause an increase in both heart rate and blood pressure. This can become a serious health problem if it happens repeatedly. Research has shown that people who are chronically exposed to industrial noise tend to have higher blood pressure, one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
A recent study in Denmark found that women had a harder time getting pregnant if they were living in areas with more traffic noise. The noisier the area, the more time passed before the women conceived.
This impact on fertility might be a result of sleep disturbances caused by traffic noise. Previous research has found that sleep disturbance can negatively impact both female and male fertility.
Mental health problems
Research on how noise affects our mental health has yielded mixed results. Some studies have found no effect, while others have found negatives effects. For example, a Japanese study found that people regularly exposed to aircraft noise had higher rates of depressiveness and nervousness. Another study also found that environmental noise may contribute to anxiety.
Multiple studies have found that chronic exposure to noise impairs children’s learning ability. When children are repeatedly exposed to noise, they have trouble concentrating and poorer memory. They also tend to struggle with speech perception and reading comprehension.
Is there anything you can do to remedy noise pollution?
The most obvious solution to the problem of noise would be to move to a quieter neighborhood, but if that isn’t an option for you, there are other solutions you can try.
Spend time in quiet places
Multiple studies have found that spending time in nature lowers blood pressure, stress levels and risk of depression. This could be because natural settings are free from noise pollution.
If your kids are having trouble concentrating on schoolwork because of noise, you might try taking them to a library with a designated quiet space.
Soundproof your home
Some home improvements can minimize noise. Efficient windows and doors, rugs and curtains can block or dampen sounds. If you live in an apartment and your neighbors are noisy, you might put a bookshelf against the wall that the noise comes through.
Use stress relief techniques
You probably won’t be able to keep all noise pollution out of your home, so to prevent noise pollution from raising your stress levels, you can use various stress management techniques. You can create a more relaxing atmosphere by hanging windchimes, installing a small fountain, or using an essential oil distiller. Practicing yoga and meditation also reduces stress.