Trains, Planes and Autos Affect Sleepers

SAN ANTONIO, June 9 (UPI) — Nightly traffic, train and plane noise disturbs sleep and impairs morning performance, German researchers found.

Researchers at the German Aerospace Center Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne found reaction times directly and significantly related to increased frequency and sound-pressure level of nightly noise. The greatest disturbance — the sound of passing trains — was followed by nearby automobile traffic and overhead airplane noise.

However, each noise type caused a similar level of impairment the next day. Exposure to more than one type of noise — versus only one source — did not lead to stronger performance impairments.

“The study demonstrated that traffic noise may disturb sleep and consequently impede recuperation, as was shown by deterioration of neurobehavioral performance,” lead author Eva-Maria Elmenhorst, a postdoctoral research fellow at the institute, said in a statement. “The study therefore stresses the importance of sleep hygiene in terms of a quiet environment for healthy, undisturbed sleep.”

Elmenhorst noted nighttime noise may have stronger effects on the performance of those more susceptible to sleep disturbances — children, shift workers, the elderly and people with a chronic medical condition.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in San Antonio.

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