Risk of Sleeping Less Increases with Even Moderate Airplane Noise Exposure, New Study Finds

Major airlines predict another record summer season this year, with more and more people traveling by air these days. But a new study by the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and Oregon State University found that even moderate airplane noise can disrupt sleep, which in turn could lead to other serious health concerns.

Moderate Airplane Noise and Sleep Disruption

The study, published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives, examined airplane noise exposure among more than 35,000 participants living around 90 of the country’s major airports. The main finding? People who were exposed to airplane noise levels as low as 45 dB were more likely to sleep less than seven hours a night. For context, 45 dB is about the volume of a bird call or a quiet conversation in your home.

Airplane Noise’s Effect on Sleep

Since sleep is essential to one’s overall health and well-being, getting inadequate sleep can lead to health problems. Poor sleep has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, cancer, and other issues.

It’s worth noting that the study does not associate aircraft noise with a detriment on the quality of sleep, only the duration. It’s possible that airplane noise disrupts how long people sleep, not the quality of sleep they get. The researchers suggest that future studies should use more detailed ways of measuring sleep, such as wearable activity monitors, to provide an accurate picture of how airplane noise impacts sleep quality.

Cargo Airports and Sleep Disruption

Another interesting finding from the study: Short sleep duration was more likely among nurses who lived on the West Coast near a large body of water or a major cargo airport. The research suggests that cargo airports’ noise levels were stronger and had a greater impact on the duration of sleep. This could be because cargo airports tend to use larger, older, and more noisy aircraft than those used for commercial travel.

If you live near an airport, you might want to put in some earplugs overnight – it may just be the best way to get your beauty sleep.

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