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Night Noise: What a Sleeping Brain Hears

June 17, 2013

A recent editor's piece by Scientific American discussed how increasing environmental noise levels affect the brain and overall health. Studies conducted by the World Health Organization found that high levels of environmental noise has adverse effects on overall health, including increased stress and blood pressure, and developmental delays in children. During the day environmental noise can be consciously ignored, but during sleep the brain is much more susceptible to disruption from certain noises.

HMS DSM researcher Dr. Orfeu Buxton, co-author of a study in Annals of Internal Medicine on acoustic arousals in sleeping hospital patients, discussed how certain environmental noises, such as alarming devices in the hospital setting are extremely likely to awaken sleeping patients, disrupting their sleep and increasing their heart rate.

The discussion suggests that taking measures to lower environmental noise in cities and hospitals would be beneficial to overall health, and improve the quality of care in healthcare facilities.

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