The degree to which external noise affects the quality of sleep was studied by a team of researchers at Hanyang University in South Korea. The experiment looked at different noise combinations and how often sleep was disturbed, as well as how the noise impacted next-day performance.
Twenty adults between the ages of 23 and 32 who were used to six to seven hours of sleep per night and had normal hearing participated in an experiment where five minute recordings of traffic sounds were combined with recordings of either construction noise or film audio and played through headphones in bedrooms where external noise was minimised, so not to influence the results.
The findings showed that ninety per cent of participants who were played traffic noise through headphones were able to fall asleep within one hour. However, when the construction or movie noise was added, participants found it harder to fall asleep. The combination of traffic and construction noise had the most impact upon sleep as fifteen per cent reported that they could not go to sleep after turning off the noise.
Another section of the experiment focused on the frequency at which the noises woke the participants, who were asked to press a button each time they woke up. The construction noises were shown to wake participants more regularly. Twenty four and a half percent of participants said that loud noise affected next-day performance, while thirty percent reported that construction noise made them less effective at work.
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