How Noise Can Impact Your Sleep Cycle

woman with a minor headache

Everybody wants a good night’s sleep. Hitting eight hours each night can leave you well rested, energized and ready for the day ahead. But there are so many factors that can impact not only how long you sleep, but the quality of sleep you’re getting too. One factor that many of us struggle with is noise.

While some of us are heavy sleepers and are fine crashing no matter what is going on around us, some really struggle to nod off when elements such as road noise, dogs barking, dripping taps, home appliances and more echo around our rooms. Sounds that are trivial during the day can quickly become extremely bothersome at night. Here’s more information on the subject to help you understand the impact of sound on your sleep cycle, as well as how to get a good night’s sleep regardless of sound during the night.

Noise Disturbance

While waking up during the night can be frustrating, there’s a good reason our bodies react to noises when we are trying to sleep. In the past, our early ancestors faced a lot of genuine threats – and when sleeping, they would be vulnerable to attack, whether from animals or other people. Being reactive to noises during the night could be a potentially lifesaving skill, allowing their minds to snap awake and encouraging them to take action to defend themselves should they need. Of course, nowadays, this is still important for emergency situations, but many of us find ourselves waking up due to noises that are not posing any threat to us. This can result in poor sleep and may affect your overall health.

Noise Disturbance and Health

Having your sleep disrupted by noise is much more than a simple annoyance. It can also have a negative impact on your health. One research review published in the Noise & Health journal suggests that studies show a link between nighttime environmental noise exposure and cardiovascular disease. The researchers conducting the study found that even low-level noises could have a significantly detrimental impact on overall health by causing sleep disturbance.

Decibels and Quality of Sleep

Believe it or not, sounds as low as 30dBs can have an impact on how well you rest. When you bear in mind that busy traffic comes in at 70dBs and subway noises reach 90dBs, you can see how individuals in cities and other urban environments can begin to struggle. If you live near an airport, an airplane taking off reaches a huge 100dBs, so it won’t be all too surprising if you’re experiencing sleep disturbance.

Noise Sensitivity

How sensitive you are to noise depends on largely individual factors. It is generally thought that brain rhythms play a role in your ability to tolerate noise while you’re sleeping. Noises are much more likely to wake you from your rest if you are in stage two of your sleep cycle. This is the light, non-REM cycle we spend about half the night in.

Your age can also impact how likely you are to be woken by noise. A number of studies have found – and many parents can vouch from experience – that children are more sensitive to sound disruptions than other age groups. The elderly also tend to be more sensitive to sound disruption too.

Of course, the type of noises that are more likely to wake us can impact our noise sensitivity too. For example, parents of newborns are much more likely to wake up to sounds that the average person wouldn’t, such as small movements.

Improving Quality of Sleep

You will have to go through a process of trial and error to determine what you can do to reduce sleep disturbances caused by noise. Some choose to wear earplugs. Some will play calming noises (such as bird song or rain noises) over traffic and other less pleasant noises. If the issue is bad, some people will move to more quiet locations in a bid to get a good night’s rest. It may take some time to figure out what works for you, but hopefully, you will reach this goal sooner rather than later.

Of course, quality of sleep is extremely important. Hopefully, some of the information above will help you to see how noise impacts sleep and can help you to take steps to improve your sleep quality going forward! If you have any further questions regarding noise-reduction earplugs, get in touch with The Hearing Center at York ENT on (717) 850-9269. A member of our team will be more than happy to help and guide you in the right direction.