Impact on Quality of Life
Noise, whether ongoing or intermittent, has the potential to rob us of our quality of life. It's a source of stress and, for many of us, the reason we're not waking up rested. Noise indeed hurts, but we can also be thankful for the healing qualities of quiet.
We all know the stress created by unwanted sound. Even noise that may not be at hazardous levels to our hearing can make us tense and angry. Consider how irritating the simple dripping of a faucet can be in the middle of the night, let alone more intrusive noises. Studies have found noise to be associated not just with annoyance, but with increased aggression. Perhaps you can recall, over the years, some of the noise disputes covered in the media that resulted in physical violence.
Noise is one of the most common forms of sleep disturbance, and when sleep disruption becomes chronic, adverse health effects are great. Research shows that intermittent and impulsive noise is more disturbing than continuous noise. Even noises that don’t wake you can have a detrimental effect on sleep quality. While you engage in restless slumber, the sleeping brain continues to register and process sound, affecting sleep quality and the movement from lighter to deeper stages of sleep.
Individuals living with frequent overhead flight report that their sleep is disrupted, as well as their television watching, reading, and conversation. People living near airports cannot open their windows nor enjoy the outdoor areas surrounding their homes. Aircraft noises have precluded them from engaging in those activities that contribute significantly to a good “quality of life.”
Yet our soundscape seems to grow noisier every day.
Intrinsic Benefits of Quiet
Perhaps then, it is not enough to tell people that noise hurts. We must also look at what we gain when noise is not present – the intrinsic benefits of quiet. When quiet is defined, it is associated with words such as calm, tranquility, gentleness, easygoing, unobtrusive. Quiet is central to meditation, which has been shown to improve health and overall well-being. The phrase “peace and quiet” is often used to reflect what so many of us seek after a hectic day at home or at work and suggests that one cannot have peace without quiet.
When noise is limited, we not only reduce the negative effects associated with noise, but add the richness of quiet to our lives.