Loud noises like a neighbor’s pounding bass or the construction jackhammer outside your house can be annoying for sure. But can they also be detrimental to your health and beauty?“
A report from the World Health Organization and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre shows that a steady exposure to noise pollution may even lead to fatal heart attacks. In fact, the incidence of heart attack rises by 30 percent in people who work in loud environments, and can increase to 300 percent in women if their home is very noisy, too.
Hint: Avoid living near highways or airports, and if you do, invest in soundproof windows, heavy drapes and sound-absorbent furniture—those things really can make a difference, according to Merryman.
Even in the short-term, a loud racket can be disruptive to your body’s needs. Here are just a few of the ways that sound can throw you off a good health and beauty track:
You Can’t Sleep
Healthier, young-looking skin relies on snooze time to heal and repair tissue, so it’s key to get a good night’s sleep (not so easy if there’s a barking dog next door or a car alarm epidemic on your street). “Nighttime noise during sleep—even sounds that don’t wake you up—can prevent you from going through the normal sleep cycles,” says Merryman. Remember all those sleep tips about creating a sanctuary in your bedroom—one that’s dark, cool and peaceful? Keep in mind, too, that sanctuaries are quiet.
You know what loud noises like a constantly yakking co-worker in the next cubicle can do? Stress you out! And stress can cause all sorts of bad things to happen, from hair thinning and acne to weight gain and tooth loss (the grinding is a killer).
You Get Angry
Turn it the eff down!” Okay, who hasn’t said the less euphemized version of that sentence at some point? Whether you’re shouting it at your first-person-shooter-playing boyfriend or your night owl upstairs neighbor who has a special love for death metal, loud noise can drive you nuts and heighten your emotions. This causes stress and also, let’s face it, swearing (which has been shown to negatively affect relationships).
Studies on rats have shown that exposure to loud noises causes the animals to eat more rapidly. Distracted eating can certainly lead to higher consumption; savoring your food through mindful eating is way healthier (but hard to do if, you know, THERE’S CHAOTIC SOUND ALL AROUND YOU).
Stop the Madness
Now that you know what havoc the clamoring around you can wreak, it’s time to quiet things down. Here’s how:
Create Your Sanctuary
If your bedroom is noisy, try a pair of earplugs or some white noise like a fan—the constant sound can be soothing instead of disruptive, like street noise. Merryman notes that some hospitals are even experimenting with using calming music to mask upsetting noises, handing out MP3 players to anxious patients to get their heart rates down, and this trick can work at bedtime as well.
Block Out Offenders
A loud workplace is no fun, and headphones with soft music or relaxing sounds will create a more peaceful, constant experience for your auditory senses. If that’s not an option, though, requesting a quieter spot to work—so you can be more productive, naturally—is perfectly reasonable. As is asking the people around you to please keep it down (this technique also works on loud boyfriends and neighbors).
Find Quiet Time
Studies show that even if your bedroom is quiet, loud noises earlier in the day can actually disrupt sleep after the fact because your stress hormones have been activated. Sometimes there are parts of your day that are just inescapably noisy, so counteract those moments by cultivating spaces in your life that are calmer and quieter. Try meditation or yoga, mindful eating and other ways to minimize stress and increase your inner peace.