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Most people understand that exposure to very loud noises can hurt your ears and overtime it can negatively impact your hearing ability. But as a recent New York Times article explains, it’s also the chronic exposure to all sounds, not even particularly loud ones, that can wreak havoc on hearing and your mental state.
Noise not only makes hearing, concentrating, and working more difficult, it disturbs sleep which in turn results in stress, fatigue, and changes in body’s chemical balances. Noise pollution also interferes with cognitive functions, including attention, concentration, memory, and reading ability. Since we spend a huge amount of time at home, starting to reduce sound within your living space will help stop noise pollution and the stresses and irritability that comes along with it. While urban noise may seem inevitable and unavoidable, even the most dense and active places can take steps to limit noise.
Soundproof Your Window from Traffic Noise
In many apartments, roadway noise is the primary culprit to a calm environment. From pedestrians on the sidewalk to cars and trucks on the roadway, there is significant sound transmission from the exterior into an apartment which can be extremely frustrating. Once the tenant is moved in, there are limited options to replacing an existing window with a new double-pane, acoustic window.
Furthermore, there is very little regulation on what is an acceptable window. A “high-STC” window may be 35 STC or higher, but very few apartments use these, and renters rarely know what to look for!
In situations where the majority of the noise is coming in through the window, strongly consider using a sound blocking curtain. These heavy draperies hang over the window, and seal against the wall or window jamb in order to prevent sound from leaking around the edges. They are designed to block 50-90% of inbound noise, depending on the type of existing window and the type of traffic noise (low noises, such as semi trucks, are more difficult to block).
Creative Approach to Acoustic Treatment
Adding a cork board, or heavy wool yardage on the underside of tables can help counteract bad acoustics. Using fabric on walls and ceilings in creative ways can also absorb and scatter sounds in rooms. Decorate your living space while keeping in mind how sound waves reflect off flat surfaces and perpendicular walls, possibly staggering a bookshelf or adding curves and corners to a room to mitigate internal noise echo.
Surround Yourself With Calming Sounds
The sounds of nature are ideal. But what should you do if you live in the city, and the only sounds that you hear after opening the window are traffic horns and barking dogs? You can use the progress of technology to change your apartment environment. You can purchase specialized white noise machines to mask the outside sounds, and there are even phone apps which allow you to set the ambience in your home with soothing background noises.
Turn Off The Noisy Devices
Don’t forget to turn off the devices you are not using. Before sitting down to watch a movie, turn off the computer, cable box or gaming console (with their noisy fans) so you can keep the volume down on the cinema sound-bar. Your neighbors may appreciate this more than you do.
Here, at Residential Acoustics, we aspire to make your living quieter. We hope you are following our tips and can already see changes in the quality of your lives. #SleepWell, friends!