Dreaming of Fireworks: How Noise Affects Your Sleep

Fireworks over the Statue of Liberty

Image source: IRockthenations.com

Today is the Fourth of July. For some, that means barbecues and lots of red, white and blue, but the most common and well-known fourth tradition is, of course, fireworks. While many of us will watch these colorful pyrotechnics, we’ll eventually pass out from exhaustion. The problem is, others will continue to celebrate the nation into the wee hours of July 5th. Let’s go over how noise can affect your sleep and how to sleep through the Fourth’s festivities.

As you may know, noises are measured in decibels. When we’re sleeping, sounds at levels from 40 decibels to 70 decibels are the ones that keep us awake. Examples of noises at these decibels can range from a dripping faucet in your bathroom sink to a car stereo blaring outside your window. The interesting part about noise is that sometimes the absence of it can be just as distracting as the noise itself. If you’re used to sleeping above a busy city street, the quiet countryside can lead to a restless night of sleep.

Fireworks in Washington DC

Image source: Dc.About.com

To fall asleep easier in the noise (or lack of it), try to block sounds with earplugs or “white noises” like a fan or an air conditioner. Using an alarm clock that is equipped with sounds such as “sounds of the sea” can also help too.

In a recent report cited by Natural Home and Garden, it was discovered that continuous exposure to noise pollution is a stress inducer that can lead to high blood pressure and even heart disease. Some less-intense side effects that can result from constant noises is the disruption of sleep, which can lead to difficulties throughout the day such as lack of concentration, little patience and having a hard time problem solving.

A study by Harvard Medical School concluded that while background sounds may relax some people, the volume must be at a low level. If the volume’s at a high decibel, you will awake easier throughout the night and never reach your deeper stage of REM sleep.

Some other solutions for avoiding noise pollution outside the home are simple: start by getting rid of them inside the home. Work to control the noise sources in your home such as the TV, radio, computer, iPod dock, etc. Put a volume limit on these items. When buying new appliances, research ones that are known for being quiet and efficient. Filling your home with cushions and pillows can also help to absorb sounds, which for those of you with young children can truly be a blessing.

So this Fourth of July remember to have a blast watching the blasts, followed by a peaceful night of sleep! Happy birthday America!

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