How Traffic Noise Affects Your Sleep

traffic noise

If you live in the city, close to an intersection or highway, you are probably very familiar with the plethora of traffic noises that can interfere with your sleep and keep you up at night. Even if you have become acclimated to some of these sounds, chances are your sleep is still affected.

Life with Traffic Noise

I used to live on the first floor of my apartment complex with my bedroom window facing a busy street. It was also right across the street from a construction site, so I got to get woken up by cars honking AND bulldozers driving around. The constant noise was super distracting and disturbing especially when I was studying or trying to fall asleep.

I always wish I had known about white noise machines and soundproof curtains when I lived there, but fortunately I live currently live in a quiet neighborhood. Don’t make my mistakes, educate yourself on soundproofing so you can live and sleep better.

Stressful Traffic Noises Decrease Your Sleep Quality

Loud noises can wake you, particularly stressful sounds that represent danger such as a car horn or the sound of an ambulance. How these noises affect overall sleep quality, even when we have become acclimated to them, depends on your sleep stage, time of the night, and how you perceive a particular sound. Environmental noises are constantly being processed by the brain. The brain takes these sounds and interprets them in different ways which can trigger a variety of sensory responses. Those responses and the noise itself cause small interruptions in our sleep pattern that can result in restlessness and fatigue.

Traffic Noises Affect Your Health

Continuous noise can further trigger the body’s stress response leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure. Over time these effects can result in hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and many other long-term effects.

Several studies have correlated traffic noises to impaired memory and creativity, impaired judgement, reduced coordination, weakened psychomotor skills, tinnitus and hearing loss. One particular study compared the health of individuals who lived close to airports and major intersections to individuals who lived in quieter areas and suburban neighborhoods. The results revealed that those who lived close to airports and noisy areas took more sleeping pills, were more prone to minor accidents, experienced frequent headaches, and were overall more likely to seek psychiatric treatment.

With the number of people living in cities expected to increase, the effects of traffic noise have become a major concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) believes traffic noise is one of the biggest threats to public health, ranking second behind air pollution. The organization estimates that traffic-related noises account for 1 million years of life lost due to the long-term exposure which can result in illness, disability, and even death.

How To Soundproof for Better Sleep

traffic noise affecting sleep

Even though traffic noises are on the rise, you can protect yourself and your family by soundproofing your home. There are a lot of options when it comes to soundproofing against traffic noise so you can sleep better. If you want to start simple, try a sound masking, or white noise machine. They range in price anywhere between $20 and $150, it just depends on how much money you’d like to spend. White noise machines help to cover alarming noises such as the traffic noises that keep you up at night. The white noise (or pink noise) helps to increase the ambient noise levels in a space so that sudden, loud sounds are not as alarming.

If a white noise machine alone isn’t doing the trick, try pairing it with soundproof curtains. The STC rated curtains from Residential Acoustics block out 60%-90% of outside noise, and the curtains are great for traffic noise. Traffic noise is a common issue for our customers, which is why they end up purchasing sound blocking curtains.

Soundproof Against Traffic Noise

It could be surprising to find out how traffic noise is actually affecting you sleep and therefore your health. While noise pollution from traffic, construction, airports and more continues to rise, make sure you can protect yourself from it. Whether you choose soundproof curtains, a white noise machine or both, we hope you enjoyed these tips to soundproof your bedroom from traffic noise. For more soundproofing tips for better and healthier sleep, check out How To Make Your Bedroom Quieter.

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How Traffic Noise Affects Your Sleep
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How Traffic Noise Affects Your Sleep
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Loud traffic noise affects sleep for millions of people everyday. Learn how noise decreases your sleep levels, and what you can do about it.
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Residential Acoustics
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