Understanding How Noise Affects Your Stress Levels & Overall Health

Every day we're surrounded by noise, from the moment we wake up until our head hits the pillow . Some noise is pleasant, like your favorite music or the sound of falling rain. Other types of noise can be disruptive and unwelcome, and this is the type of noise that can negatively affect your stress levels. 

Below we describe which types of noise are disruptive and the myriad of negative health consequences they stir up.

First, The Main Causes of Disruptive Noise 

Although there are technically hundreds of causes of disruptive noises, we've narrowed it down to a few broad categories. These categories have the biggest impact on your everyday stress levels. 

  • Traffic - Cars are one of the biggest causes of noise pollution in modern society. Even muted traffic sounds can push your stress levels up when it is a chronic disturbance. From speeding autos, motorcycles to frustrated drivers honking their horns, the roadway is not a peaceful environment by any stretch of the imagination. 
  • Workplace - Have you ever sat in an office or a cubicle and listened to your obnoxious, loud coworker drum their fingers, click their pens, or talk at high volumes? This can be maddening, and your stress levels go up as you get more and more frustrated. It can also make it very difficult to concentrate. Loud office noises are one of the biggest detriments to worker productivity. 
  • Home - We can ignore most of the background noise in our home when we're just hanging out, but when we're trying to work it becomes a bigger problem. Fans, your family arguing, kids fighting, televisions running, music playing - all of these contribute to disruptive noise. The more you can limit these sounds the more peaceful and calm you'll feel.
  • Airplanes - Living by an airport or working in a place that gets a lot of air traffic can be taxing. These disruptions can go on at all hours of the day and night, and they can lead to dramatically raised stress levels. 

Eight Negative Impacts of Noise on Your Stress Levels

1. Reduced Productivity 

While open office floor plans can be great for collaboration and group projects, it can lead to a lot of distracting noise or conversations that carry throughout the workplace. This added noise won't have the typical buffer that walls or even half walls offer. 

In turn, your coworkers or employees can be easily disrupted, and they can stay this way for longer periods of time. This causes a significant decrease in their overall productivity levels and a sense of frustration for everyone. 

2. Increased Risk for Cardiovascular Events 

Chronic stress related to noise can have severe impacts on your health. The World Health Organization released a report in 2011 detailing how being constantly exposed to neighborhood noise like traffic or airplanes can significantly increase your blood pressure.

This spike in your blood pressure gives you a higher risk for a cardiovascular event like a fatal heart attack or stroke. 

3. Disrupted Sleep Patterns 

Most adults in the United States don't get enough rest each night, and this gets worse when you have higher stress levels due to noise. When you're trying to fall asleep, you may notice every little sound in your home.

Your frustration levels go up when you can't enjoy your normal sleep routine. Once you do get some shut eye, you may still have trouble with waking up in the middle of the night. This is especially true if you live in an area with a lot of traffic. 

4. Reduced Immune Function 

When you have chronic stress due to office noise and other environmental factors, this can negatively impact your immune system. Stress causes inflammation and decreases the number of immune cells in your body. 

You'll be far less effective at fighting off diseases or illnesses. Being sick will happen more frequently and for longer periods of time. 

5. Increased Muscle Tension and Soreness 

When you get frustrated or stressed, your muscles tense up because your body reacts to a perceived threat. Chronic stress due to noise can cause extreme muscle tension. This means that your muscles will get sore even when they do finally relax. Additionally, this muscle tension can lead to other health issues like headaches or pain in your back. 

6. Weight Gain 

People who have higher stress levels tend to eat more unhealthy food. Stress prompts your body to release the stress hormone cortisol. Having higher levels of cortisol in your body can lead to weight gain. This happens because it can cause higher insulin levels throughout your body.

You'll crave fatty or sugary foods in response, and your body stores this excess fat around your abdomen area. 

7. Reduced Energy and Increased Fatigue 

Chronic stress can easily lead to fatigue. Your body works overtime to help regulate your blood pressure and stress levels. This, over time, can pull energy from all over your body as it tries to meet the increased energy demand. You can feel drained of energy, achy, and fatigued. This fatigued state also makes you more susceptible to health problems and illnesses. 

8. Impaired Memory 

Constant disruptions or distractions throughout the day can result in problems with your memory. You may find yourself having trouble picking up a project where you left off . You may also find yourself struggling to remember basic instructions or tasks, or you may need things repeated for you to ensure that you understand them. Your memory can get much worse as your stress levels get higher. 

Start Lowering Your Stress Levels Today

Be creative when trying to lower the noise levels in your environment, especially if you have an open office or if you work from home. You can try going for a short walk on your breaks to clear your head, or perhaps you'll want to invest in noise-canceling headphones. At Zenbooth we provide office phone booths as a place for workers to escape & focus on important tasks. 

When you lower the noise levels in your everyday life, you should see your stress levels drop. The end result is a happier more productive lifestyle. 

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