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How to benefit from reduced noise pollution in your home

Our world today is filled with noise. From the sounds of constantly flowing traffic, the blaring of electronics, TVs and entertainment systems to the omnipresent passive and active communication in the form advertisements, phone calls and the background noise from other human beings, the volume in our lives is only getting louder.

Urban densification, noise-producing technology and equipment as well as human activity nearly around the clock have dramatically changed our sound environment from tolerable levels to a buzz which we actively have to avoid and fight. This increase in volume of sound and exposure to noise can cause discomfort, stress and health issues.

It is important for our acoustic comfort to enjoy protection from noise exposure to have a sense of security and privacy. Nowhere else is this more apparent than in our homes. In the following, we’ll give you an overview of the negative effects of noise pollution and steps you can take to counteract these at home. You’ll also learn how a silent home will contribute to your overall health and wellbeing.

The negative impact of noise pollution on our health

When we refer to noise pollution or noise disturbance, we talk about unwanted or disturbing sounds. These can interfere with our daily routine and affect our quality of life. The higher the exposure to noise pollution is and the longer we suffer from it, the more pronounced the negative effects can become. Noise can affect our physical health and overall well-being and touch many aspects of our lives, including, concentration, sleep, communication and recreation.

The World Health Organization lists seven categories of adverse health effects:  

  • Impaired hearing  
  • Interference with verbal communication  
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Heart trouble  
  • Mental health 
  • Impaired performance 
  • Social behaviour and annoyance

Research shows that when we’re exposed to noise, whether asleep or awake, our body responds with raised stress levels and related hormones. This can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure and a weakened immune system. The increase in stress can even contribute to diabetes and hamper cognitive and language development in children.

Psychological effects include anger, mood changes, nervousness, lack of concentration, nausea and headaches. Therefore, it’s critical we take the necessary measures to counteract the daily combat on our eardrums.

5 Steps you can take to improve the silence in your home

1. Turn off your devices

From electronics to computers, TVs and entertainment systems to mobile phone chargers: devices all make noise, even when they’re not in use or in standby mode. Whether it’s a fan spinning or a component inside vibrating or charging, device noise pollution can range from audible to inaudible and play a part in the stress on your ears. Fully turn off your electronics or even unplug them, if only to hear and feel the difference at least once. The bonus is that you also save on electricity and battery life that way.

2. Optimize for silence

Noisy machinery such as washer, dryer or furnace should be far away from your sleeping and living room. Place your bed so that you don’t suffer noise from a heater or air conditioning unit. Identify noise sources and try to relocate them, or at least insulate them. Schedule noisy activities at times where they have the least impact on anyone in your house and around it.

3. Soundproof your home

Through changes and improvements in your home you can block external noise, reduce sound or insulate rooms. Rugs or carpet can dampen the sound of hard floors. Windows are a common weak link: install soundproof windows and seal the frames to fight outside noise. Install soundproof walls for exterior facing ones and between dwelling if you are in collective building to fight outside noise. Furniture, such as shelves or a wall rug, or curtains on your windows, can dampen sound coming from the same room. Equip your doors with rubber strips to keep noise from traveling inside. Consider changing the fans of your ventilation appliances to ultra-silent ones. 

We at Weber believe that what matters most in the construction industry is to care about the people and the environment they live in. Therefore, we take the acoustic challenges of our modern lives into account when designing buildings and materials. We invest in construction systems, new materials and technologies to evolve the design for acoustic comfort.

4. Earplugs and noise cancelling headphones

Earplugs can be an easy and effective solution to provide you with silence at night to get the restful sleep you need. You can also wear them during the day if you really need to concentrate, but noise-cancelling headphones are another option. Listening to relaxing, soothing music or audio at a moderate level can help reduce stress and increase your concentration when you need to focus.

5. Create positive sounds

If you cannot remove some noise from your environment, you can counter or cancel out noise pollution with peaceful sounds. Wind chimes, a small indoor water fountain, a crackling fireplace or a recording of it, the sound of rain, all these can mask unpleasant stress on your ears. A more advanced method is a white noise machine, which produces noise of all audible frequencies, similar in sound to a TV or radio between stations. The effect can be soothing and as the brain becomes accustomed to it, you might not hear anything at all after a while.

How silence at home will improve your wellbeing

As research into noise pollution continues, scientists also study the effects that silence can have on our bodies and minds and general well-being. Here are some improvements you will see from a silent home.  

Relieved stress

Through evolution, our brain has continued to associate noise (especially loud noise) with danger. Sound is a signal that triggers a stress response, whether we want it or not. In the absence of noise and sound, tensions in the body and mind are released. Overall stress is reduced. Researchers found that pure silence is more helpful in relaxation than any relaxing music.

Improved sleep  

Sleep disturbed by noise can lead to insomnia, exhaustion, fatigue and even depression. By contrast, silent nights and observing quiet times during the day will greatly increase the quality of sleep, restfulness and daytime alertness and focus.

Heightened sensitivity

When the brain has to process less noise or no sound at all, it can focus on the other senses. When you don’t have to fight constant stress from noise pollution, you are able to concentrate better on sights, smells, tastes, tactile sensations as well as your thoughts, emotions and intentions.

Brain cell regeneration and growth  

Researchers have shown that silence can produce new cell creation in the main part of the brain associated with memories, learning and emotion. Existing cells regenerate, whereas those newly formed differentiate into neurons and integrate into the system.

Improved memory

Even in the absence of sound, your brain stays active. Even in utter silence, people often report auditory hallucinations. This is the result of the brain’s auditory cortex continuing to work. When you don’t have to deal with external stress levels of noise, you can literally hear yourself think. Your mind can then focus on replaying conversations, voicing thoughts or emotions, and remembering sounds, tones, voices or music - which can lead to improved memory.

Self-reflection  

Noise forces our brains to process and discern sounds. Without that distraction and stimulation, it can allow itself to go out of focus. That doesn’t mean turning off completely. On the contrary, it is another level of mental activity and a different part of your mind to which you can connect. Listen to what is going on inside, turn your thoughts and focus inward and refuel your mind through self-reflection.

Silence is golden

Now that you know the negative impact of stressful sound and noise pollution on our health, you can follow out these outlined steps to contribute to silence in your home. Silence can give you space to think, concentrate, recharge and reset your mind and improve our health as well as physical and mental well-being. Once you enjoy the benefits of a silent home, you will want to find more opportunities to embrace silence and enjoy the absence of noise throughout your day and in your life.

Weber Comforts

Comfort is probably the most important factor in our health and well-being. An interior which makes its occupants feel as comfortable as possible is a healthy, actively beneficial environment. 

Comfort is a state of well-being that derives from the material conditions of an environment: the way it is designed, built, decorated and furnished. The intelligent choice of materials and the way those materials are used is a major factor in determining the quality of an interior, and thus the level of comfort enjoyed by its inhabitants.

There are four key elements which contribute to general comfort. Together, they amount to goals building materials must achieve: