How many times have you woken up in the middle of the night because of a noise that roused you from your slumber?
Even though this poorly affects your health, the World Health Organization found that the primary danger that noise pollution can do to people’s health around the globe comes from noise that we don’t notice while we’re in a deep sleep. In other words, noise does not have to wake you to harm your sleep.
Hearing loss could actually be connected to disrupted sleep, which makes people with hearing loss more susceptible. Researchers do not currently know how noises at night impact people with hearing loss.
Disruptive Noises, Sleep, and Health
If your sleep is constantly being interrupted - or you only get a few hours of sleep - this can increase your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Anyone who hears traffic noises at night is more prone to experience heart disease and take medication to aid with sleep. This will not effectively improve their quality of sleep.
When you are asleep, you go through two types of light sleep (stage 1 and 2), deep slow-wave sleep (stage 3), and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. In stage 3, the muscles begin to relax, as do the rate of your pulse and breathing. This stage has an important role in your immune system. Your dreams occur during stage 4, which is important for learning, memory, and creativity.
Noise appears to prolong stage 1 sleep and decreases both stage 3 and 4 sleep. Signals in your body may be set off, the way adrenaline and cortisol are triggered. As a result, you may notice a faster heart rate and your blood pressure might rise. All of these things can happen in your body while you are unconscious. Your body is essentially protecting you as you rest.
Early primates needed to be ready for danger during the night, but this normally doesn’t apply to us in modern times. It’s an unnecessary alarm. The noise does not even need to be very loud to poorly affect a person. There was a study on hospital equipment that made approximately 40 decibels (dB) of noise. There were quantitative impacts on electroencephalogram (EEG) measurements of brain activity during sleep in healthy adult test subjects. They essentially compared the health impacts of noise on a person to secondhand smoking.
Does having Hearing Loss Reduce the Risk of Poor Sleep?
The answer is, no.
According to Evidence for an Association Between Hearing Impairment and Disrupted Sleep: Scoping Review hearing loss is associated with insomnia and other interruptions during sleep. It is still unknown how noises that occur at night impact hearing loss. Nathan Clarke, a researcher on hearing loss from the University of Nottingham, explained how evolution shows us that individuals with hearing loss may need to exert more energy to process noises in the night that may indicate potential danger. As of now, there is little evidence to back up this claim.
Tinnitus can worsen your sleep. A study on approximately 300 Israeli workers, who were exposed to industrial noise, showed that those who had symptoms of tinnitus had the most trouble with sleep. The hearing loss was connected to insomnia, no matter what age they were or how long they had been exposed to the noise.
In a different study, individuals with tinnitus and hearing loss had a significant improvement in their sleep after receiving hearing aids, but this was not the case for those who only had hearing loss.
In a study of about 7,000 Japanese volunteers, people who have hearing loss are more inclined to sleep for over eight hours. It is uncertain as to what this indicates about being susceptible to disturbance.
Getting Help and Useful Equipment
If you usually wake up tired from your slumber, you should consider getting checked for sleep apnea. People who experience sleep apnea struggle to breathe during sleep and have short, unconscious moments of waking up. Sleep apnea can be partly responsible for hearing loss. In one study, it was discovered that the more frequently you were interrupted due to sleep apnea, the worse your hearing was. This included high-frequency and low-frequency hearing loss, even if you don’t snore. Another small study showed that bed partners of people who snore had a greater risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a free hearing test and consultation.