Along with light and temperature, noise is one of the main environmental factors that determines our sleep quality, and noise pollution can be a serious problem for many of us. Determined as excessive, disruptive and untimely noise, noise pollution can come in many forms depending on where you live - from the late-night sounds of the inner-city, to noisy neighbours, right through to nocturnal wildlife. If you live in a place that’s susceptible to noise pollution at night you may well be facing sleep deprivation and the many negative after-effects that brings with it.
Excessive noise pollution makes it difficult to go to sleep, causing unnecessary stress in the first instance, followed by disrupted sleep and extreme tiredness the following day. If it’s experienced on a nightly or regular basis then noise pollution can become a serious problem.
The first thing to do when you’re experiencing noise pollution is to determine the source of the sound, and decide whether you can do anything about it. Closing a window, or politely asking a neighbour to quieten down could be an instant solution.
In cases where it’s impossible to stop the noise, you need to act on blocking it out. The simplest way to do this is by using ear plugs, which are available from most chemists and supermarkets. These little foam plugs are comfortable and effective. Going a bit further up the technology scale there are noise-cancelling headphones - a hi-tech solution that actively assesses the surrounding environmental noise through external receivers and combats it with almost imperceptible white noise. These headphones have become more affordable in recent years, with sets available for less than £100. For a whole-room solution, white noise generators are known to be effective against noise pollution.
Not all noise is disturbing pollution, and some sounds have a soothing effect that can actually aid sleep. A rhythmic ticking clock, gentle wind or low volume soft music can all bring on the extreme relaxation necessary to drift off to sleep. There is actually a whole industry based on calming sounds, with hundreds of CDs and smartphone apps available that play different types of sedate audio, from whale songs to rainfall. Setting a timed playlist of these types of sounds, whether through comfortable headphones or played into the room through speakers, could be a fast-track to sleep.
Although incredibly irritating and frustrating at times, noise pollution is a fairly straight-forward occurrence. By equipping yourself with the tools to combat it, you’re giving yourself the best chance of overcoming it and getting off to sleep.