This weekend I took my daughter out shopping for a bridesmaids dress to wear to her dear friend’s wedding.
And even though it was so wonderful to spend that special time with her, I left the crowded store feeling completely exhausted, and so did she.
As we were driving home I realized that I felt exhausted specifically by being around the constant, unending noise that was in the store…
…background music overlapping with customer conversations overlapping with advice from store personnel overlapping with the intercom system, all while I was trying to focus on communicating with my own child.
It reminded me of this post I wrote last year on noise pollution, so I thought this was the perfect blog post to share with you all today.
Because chronic background noise doesn’t just irritate you… it’s actually impacting your long term health. By more than you think!
That’s right, if you have stubborn abdominal fat that just isn’t falling away, on top of considering what your diet is and what your exercise goals are, you should also be considering what chronic noise pollution you are exposed to!
Chronic noise is absolutely part of the reason you have stress induced metabolic change.
(Another thing to ask yourself is how deep your sleep really is, if you are having trouble losing weight! In my medical experience, it is almost impossible for a person to lose weight in a healthy way unless they are sleeping well, as I blog about here.)
Has your physician asked you about noise pollution when talking with you about heart health?
What is interesting about this study is that it’s not just loud sounds that affect your health, it’s the small chronic ones that do too. So it’s not just an airplane passing by or the occasional sound of construction, but the level of normal talking, phones ringing, and sounds of cars on the street all impact your heart attack and stroke risk, and they all up your risk for metabolic disease too. Look at the table below (taken directly out of the medical study above) to see that even normal conversation is above the area now considered safe in terms of affecting your health. 55 dBA and above is now considered a health risk factor by the World Health Organization (WHO):
Every 10 dBA increase in noise increases your heart attack risk by 6%, arterial calcification by 8%, and stroke risk by 14%… starting at only 50 dBA!
- So normal conversation (at 60 dBA) can, over time, contribute negatively to health issues… increasing both heart attack and stroke risk by 6% and 14% respectively.
- The normal sound of cars driving/traffic, doubles that — increasing heart attack and stroke risk by 12% and 28% respectively.
- Listening to a telephone ring repeatedly increases risk of heart attack and stroke by 18% and 42% respectively, and on and on.
Clearly, working in a high noise industry (like on an aircraft or in construction) is very hard on the body — this we already knew.
What we didn’t know is having a job where you answer telephones, or working at a busy restaurant, or working a the mall, or any other environment with constant conversation and music playing adds to your cardiovascular risk as well.
And now we do.
Think about your day:
- Do you hear traffic constantly (especially consider if you hear traffic where you sleep at night?)
- Do you work in an area where there is chronic talking (such as a hospital, a hotel, a store or a restaurant?)
- Do you work in an area where there are phones constantly ringing (such as at an office?)
- Do you work in an area that has music playing constantly?
- Do you sleep with music or a television on?
What to do? The worst damage to your health occurs when noise levels are chronically present while you are sleeping at night…
…so the first thing to think about is where you lay your head to catch sleep.
- Install noise blocking and light blocking curtains on your windows. This alone can lower your disease risk.
- Consider investing in a noise blocking and light blocking canopy in addition to curtains on the windows to further block out sound and light and completely encase your bed.
- Do not sleep with windows open if you live in an area with nighttime traffic, and try to sleep in a room that is not facing a road if you have an option of which bedroom to take. If you already have a high cardiovascular risk or history of heart disease or stroke, consider switching bedrooms with another family member in order to get away from a busy street.
- If you can’t move your bedroom, plant a row of trees to help block noise coming to your home.
- Turn off appliances when not in use… don’t sleep with the TV or music running, don’t sleep with a sound machine on, give your brain a break from the constant onslaught of noise whenever possible.
- Reduce EMF exposures in your sleeping area to decrease the over all environmental toxicity of your bedroom (click here for a free printable 25 point checklist on reducing EMF exposures.)
- Ground while you sleep at night to dramatically deepen sleep, improve your brain’s sleep patterns and give your body some restorative down time before facing another full, noisy, busy day.
- Wear noise cancelling earplugs during commutes and traveling, especially on airplanes and trains. Make sure you wear them when using power tools, shooting guns, mowing the lawn, at concerts, etc… They are very discrete (looks like you are wearing normal earbuds so people think you are just listening to music! I prefer this style over earplugs that don’t have a cord, as those tend to look like hearing aids to me. And the cord means you can take them out and drape them around your neck, then put them back in when you need them!) I would even suggest wearing these to work — the cool thing about this model is that you can uncap them and still hear normal conversation, music, co-workers, etc… at much safer volumes. Therefore, you can wear them while at work to protect not only your ears but your heart and brain and metabolism too! Tell your co-workers who ask about how wearing earbuds can actually decrease their heart attack and stroke risk — they will be amazed.
- Decrease other stressors in your life to help decrease the total amount of stress burden placed on your body. Consider stress when choosing occupation, living location, commute, relationships, friendships, coworkers, etc… Toxicity from these ubiquitous sources are every bit as important to consider as it is to reduce more obvious toxins like the ones found in the food you eat, the water you drink, choosing non-toxic household and personal care items, etc…
- Increase and optimize positive health measures to help buffer other stressors (such as noise pollution) that you may not be able to do anything about. Optimize the quality of the foods, nutrients, micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and supplements you put into your body, optimize the purity of the water you drink, increase your physical activity, and get your body grounded as often as possible.
To your resilient, constantly re-setting and improving health…