Effects of environmental noise on sleep
This paper summarizes the findings from the past 3 year's research on the effects of environmental noise on sleep and identifies key future research goals. The past 3 years have seen continued interest in both short term effects of noise on sleep (arousals, awakenings), as well as epidemiological studies focusing on long term health impacts of nocturnal noise exposure. This research corroborated findings that noise events induce arousals at relatively low exposure levels, and independent of the noise source (air, road, and rail traffic, neighbors, church bells) and the environment (home, laboratory, hospital). New epidemiological studies support already existing evidence that night-time noise is likely associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke in the elderly. These studies collectively also suggest that nocturnal noise exposure may be more relevant for the genesis of cardiovascular disease than daytime noise exposure. Relative to noise policy, new effect-oriented noise protection concepts, and rating methods based on limiting awakening reactions were introduced. The publications of WHO's ''Night Noise Guidelines for Europe'' and ''Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise'' both stress the importance of nocturnal noise exposure for health and well-being. However, studies demonstrating a causal pathway that directly link noise (at ecological levels) and disturbed sleep with cardiovascular disease and/or other long term health outcomes are still missing. These studies, as well as the quantification of the impact of emerging noise sources (e.g., high speed rail, wind turbines) have been identified as the most relevant issues that should be addressed in the field on the effects of noise on sleep in the near future.
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