More and more people are living in large urban areas that have, as part of their natures, a lot of noise. And, more and more as a society we are aware of the need for good quality sleep. With more population density there is more potential for a host of loud auditory interruptions that can disturb sleep. Living in a city can be invigorating until the neighbors loud music has you up at 2:30a.m. and you are asking yourself, “How can I sleep in this loud city?”
Planes and trains, car horns and police sirens, ambulances, barking dogs, loud neighbors and street noise, they can all interrupt a good night’s sleep. If noise is waking you up at night, don’t just live with it.
Disrupted sleep has lots of physical and mental health repercussions. It can lower immune function, cause diabetes or heart disease. It can contribute to depression or make you tired during the day and susceptible to accidents. Interrupted sleep is worth addressing.
Let’s say you know for sure what specifically is waking you up. Depending on what it is, you may take a number of different approaches to dealing with it. Let’s start by thinking about the difference between good noise and bad noise. Then, check out recommendations from sleep experts on how to lessen noise and sleep better in your noisy environment.
As far as noise goes, there are good and bad sounds in relation to sleep. Different kinds of noises can either positively or negatively affect the brain. Quiet, rhythmic, natural noises like the whir of a fan, the sound of rain on your roof, or birds in the morning tend to sooth the sensory system and allow you to sleep.
In contrast, loud, grating, mechanical noises like an airplane, a lawn mower, a jackhammer or a siren are the opposite and tend to destabilize the sensory system, and cause you to wake. They also negatively impact the brain and can affect sleep cycles.
Call your neighbor, leave a note, ask for what you need. Call the city, the construction company, the lawn service and let them know their noise is a problem.
Your hearing is part of your overall sensory system and it is turned on while you sleep. It can pick up noises that you are not consciously registering, and it can learn to habituate to many kinds of noises as well. Most often, it will wake you when the noise is sudden, jarring, or unfamiliar, like a siren.
Your individual sensory receptors are actually all working while you sleep. You can perceive light, feel temperature, texture, and pain. Your sense of smell and taste, in addition to your hearing are all active throughout the night.
However, they are not mutually exclusive. If your room is too light it may make you more susceptible to noise. If the room is too hot or too cold, similarly it may make you more susceptible to waking from that pain in your hip. These sensory organs work as a system affecting each other.
With this in mind, experts suggest that you inventory all the sensory aspects of your sleep environment before assuming it is just noise that is causing you to wake. All of us have the capacity to sleep through all kinds of noise, but less so if other sensory preceptors are challenged.
Work to have your sleeping environment calming for your entire sensory system; dark, cool, comfortable, good smelling, and quiet is the goal. With all that in place, see if you can’t tolerate all that city noise a little bit better.
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