Last update: May 22, 2017

Brazilian Association of Sleep Sleep Science 7 (2014) Brazil

Environmental noise and sleep disturbances: A threat to health?

“Nocturnal environmental noise may be the most worrying form of noise pollution in terms of its health consequences because of its synergistic direct and indirect (through sleep disturbances acting as a mediator) influence on biological systems.”

Sleep disturbances

Demian Halperin
Department of Psychiatry, Barzilai Medical Center, Haistadrut Street 2, Ashkelon 78278, Israel

Abstract

Environmental noise, especially that caused by transportation means, is viewed as a significant cause of sleep disturbances. Poor sleep causes endocrine and metabolic measurable perturbations and is associated with a number of cardiometabolic, psychiatric and social negative outcomes both in adults and children. Nocturnal environmental noise also provokes measurable biological changes in the form of a stress response, and clearly affects sleep architecture, as well as subjective sleep quality. These sleep perturbations are similar in their nature to those observed in endogenous sleep disorders. Apart from these measurable effects and the subjective feeling of disturbed sleep, people who struggle with nocturnal environmental noise often also suffer the next day from daytime sleepiness and tiredness, annoyance, mood changes as well as decreased well-being and cognitive performance. But there is also emerging evidence that these short-term effects of environmental noise, particularly when the exposure is nocturnal, may be followed by long-term adverse cardiometabolic outcomes. Nocturnal environmental noise may be the most worrying form of noise pollution in terms of its health consequences because of its synergistic direct and indirect (through sleep disturbances acting as a mediator) influence on biological systems. Duration and quality of sleep should thus be regarded as risk factors or markers significantly influenced by the environment and possibly amenable to modification through both education and counseling as well as through measures of public health. One of the means that should be proposed is avoidance at all costs of sleep disruptions caused by environmental noise.

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