What Are the Benefits of Sleeping In a Noise-Free Environment?
Are you falling asleep to the soothing sounds of your TV or the buzz and hum of city traffic? If the answer to that question is yes, well, you’re doing this sleeping thing incorrectly. As it turns out, you need silence -- sweet, sweet silence -- to get a good night’s rest. Turns out you get the best night’s rest if you’re sleeping in a noise-free environment, so it’s probably time to change some of those bad habits.
Why Does a Noise Free Environment Matter?
Why, you ask? Well, it’s simple. We respond to external stimuli -- or in other words, noise -- while asleep. Things that sound trivial during the day, like the quiet hum of infomercials, the buzz of the radio, the dripping of a sink, or the bark of a dog, are all pretty disruptive to our sleep, even if we don’t fully wake up and take notice. And, if your brain is on alert, you likely aren’t entering REM cycles -- the deeper sleep cycles that help us feel replenished -- and you’re bound to be groggy the next morning.
What is the Impact On Our Health?
Still, a lack of deep sleep can be more detrimental to your health than simply making you tired. Sleep deprivation can cause physical and mental health problems, injuries, loss of productivity, and a greater risk of death, according to the National Institute of Health.
That includes heart health, too. According to a recent study published in the Noise & Health Journal, there’s a link between nighttime environmental noise exposure and cardiovascular disease, which means that your tossing and turning can affect your heart and not just your temperament. Even more interesting? It’s not just loud disturbances that can do it; low-level noises can have an impact on your heart health, too.
What the Experts Say About Environmental Noise
Even the World Health Organization has weighed in on the benefits of a good night’s rest in a quiet place. WHO estimates that environmental noise from things like trains, planes, and automobiles can cause serious health side effects. In fact, WHO estimates Western Europeans collectively lose 1 million years of healthy life each year due to traffic-related noise. Another study published in Current Biology found that brain rhythms play a role in people's ability to tolerate noise.
So, there are clearly plenty of health repercussions to sleeping in a room surrounded by noise, but on the flip side, there are plenty of benefits to sleeping in a room devoid of noise:
- Healthy brains, healthy bodies: Your body is supporting healthy brain function and maintain your physical health during sleep, so creating an optimal noise-free environment will help facilitate that. In fact, sleep is involved in healing and repairing your heart and regulating insulin levels, and even your immune system relies on it.
- Growing and developing: Sleep helps support growth and development in teens and kids, which is why it’s so important for young’uns to get a good night’s rest.
- Daytime performance: If you want to be safe and alert during the day, getting some deep sleep in a noise-free environment will help facilitate that. People who sleep well are more productive, have quicker reaction times, and make fewer mistakes.
So, to get that optimal sleep, you need to create an environment that limits noise disturbances.
It’s important to minimize inside noise, which is the easiest type to control. Here are some ways to do that:
- White noise: White noise, like the sound of a fan, air purifier, or other soothing sounds, can actually help cancel out that disturbing outside noise, and it can be really helpful for kids, who often need to drown out the buzz of noise from the adults who are still awake.
- Chore reprieve: Some of the noisiest disturbances come from your household appliances, so try to run the washing machine or dishwasher well before you lay your head on your pillow. If you can’t tackle it early, it might be wise to wait until the next day to do it.
- Furniture buffer: There are indoor noises you might not be able to drown out -- like the ones that come from neighboring apartments or shared walls -- but you can create a sound buffer if you place large furniture (not your bed!) against those walls.
- Turn it off: That means TVs, ice makers, phones, and other devices. Shut them down, put them on silent, or throw them out the window. However, you have to take care of it.
- Earbuds: And that doesn’t mean AirPods. Buy some noise canceling earplugs if you’re sharing a bed or room with a snorer. It’ll save your sanity, and maybe even your heart.