Hear. Live. Now.

How Noise Can Impact Your Sleep Cycle

graph of hearing loss superimposed on man's head

Even if you usually sleep like a rock or wake up at the slightest sound, noise can make a big difference in how restful our sleep is. If you often wake up still feeling exhausted and can’t work out why, then there might be some noise impacting how you sleep. 

We know that sounds can positively impact how you sleep; for example, many people listen to music to help them gently drift off to sleep at night – or use white or pink noise to stay asleep. But sound can also have a negative impact on how you sleep, like snoring, creaky floorboards, or neighbors. Noise can have an impact in the short-term and long-term, which means it is essential to make sure that your sleep environment is conducive to good sleep. 

The Impact of Noise During Sleep

When your sleep gets broken, it doesn’t just make you tired. It impacts all of the processes that happen while you are sleeping. More important is that even when you don’t think you have been woken up, your subconscious will feel the impacts. 

Understanding the Sleep Cycle

The average sleep cycle goes through four stages; each stage offers the boy and mind time to rest, recover and rebuild. Each of the processes is vital for our everyday functioning. On average, between 19 and 74, we need about seven to nine hours of sleep. This varies based on lifestyle factors. In any 24 hours, you need between four and six cycles of sleep to feel rested. 

Stage one is the lightest of all and only lasts up to ten minutes, often characterized as dozing off. It is easier to be woken in this stage, and if you are, it won’t feel like you’ve slept at all. 

Stage two is also a light stage, and this is where your body gets ready to rest. Your temperate will lower, heart rate and breathing slow down, and your muscles start to relax. Brain waves slow, and it is believed this part of the cycle stores memories and lasts up to about 25 minutes ahead of deep sleep. 

Stage three is the deep sleep stage, and you are entirely at rest here. Your body is in repair mode, and if you are woken up in this stage, it can take a moment to situate yourself. As the sleep cycle progresses, the length of time spent in stage three will reduce. 

REM sleep is the dreaming stage of sleep, and except for your eyes (which move quickly at this stage) and the muscles that allow you to breathe, your muscles become temporarily paralyzed. Your heart rate and blood pressure rise as your breathing quickens. 

The first REM sleep episode usually starts approximately 90 minutes into your sleep cycle and lasts around 10 minutes. The longer you sleep, the longer each of your later REM stages becomes.

Although it can be more challenging to be woken by noise in the later stages of sleeping, it is not impossible, and it interrupts many of the most essential functions. 

The short-term impact of disturbed sleep from noise is irritability, underperformance, mood swings, and mental health can be impacted too. In the long-term, noise that disturbs sleep can cause weight gain, high blood pressure, impact mental health, increase irritability, and increase sleep aids like medication and stress. When stress levels increase, this can cause hearing issues. 

Avoiding Noise While Sleeping

For those who live in the city, removing all of the noises that might cause them to be awake in the evening can be more complicated. The most common culprits are sirens, traffic, people, neighbors, and other city noises. Insulated windows can reduce the amount of outside noise entering the room, and adding blinds and curtains can further dampen the noise. 

Appliances can often hum, click and make other noises; when the time comes to replace your devices, choose ones known for being quiet. Soft furnishings like carpets and cushions can help to absorb some of the noise, whereas hard surfaces reverberate the sound around the room. Technology can be a big temptation when you wake up after just a few minutes of dozing. Turn off notifications, and place your phone somewhere out of reach. 

Earplugs designed for sleeping can help minimize much of the noise that usually wakes you up. If there are other influences in the home, like people watching TV when you are trying to sleep or loud snoring, it can be beneficial to negotiate a different sleep schedule to get to sleep before them. 

When we are trying to sleep, noise can mean we don't allow our bodies to repair and recover, and we certainly won't feel rested. Over time this will cause health issues, including hearing problems. Discuss your hearing needs with the team at Hearing & Balance Specialist of Illinois by calling 775-336-0211.