Encountering noisy neighbors is quite common, especially in large apartment buildings. After all, who hasn’t experienced trouble falling asleep due to loud music or the sound of the vacuum cleaner coming from next door?
However, besides being incredibly annoying, research shows that noise might be linked to physical and mental health problems. But are those claims real, and if so, are your neighbors making you ill? Let’s find out!
Generally speaking, pollution happens when a contaminant enters a specific environment, causing harmful effects. The main types of pollution include:
- Water pollution
- Air pollution
- Light pollution
Noise pollution is a form of air pollution that is characterized by the presence of undesirable sounds in the environment. Sure, noise is always present in the air in the form of natural sounds like birds chirping. However, noise build-up through human activities can have a severe effect on the well-being of both humans and animals.
Unfortunately, when compared to other forms of pollution, noise is often ignored, even though it can be a health hazard. As a matter of fact, a 2018 review showed that noise pollution is underreported and has become a regular part of human life. Yet, noise caused by neighbors is one of the most widespread, reported, and dangerous types of noise pollution.
It should come as no surprise that unwanted sounds, such as those caused by your neighbors, can affect your mental health. That’s because people’s brains are constantly checking for signs of danger, even at night. As a result, loud or recurring noises can increase stress and trigger anxiety. Not only that, but frequent noise exposure will make people more sensitive to stress.
Usually, people who live with noisy neighbors may feel on edge, frustrated, irritable, and angry. What’s worse is that, according to research, the effects intensify for people who feel unable to control the amount of noise in their environment.
Besides causing anxiety and stress, environmental noise can also negatively affect sleep. More specifically, if you have noisy neighbors, you might experience:
- Shortened sleep duration
- Difficulty in falling asleep
- Inability to stay asleep
Noise can also alter the amount of rapid eye movement sleep. That can affect the mood and ability to concentrate, leading to further frustration and sleep problems.
Noise caused by neighbors can directly or indirectly affect your physical health. In severe cases, noise pollution can lead to hearing impairment. Some examples include:
- Paracusis, or a distorted sense of hearing
- Tinnitus, or a constant high-pitched sound
- Abnormal loudness perception
Furthermore, data suggests that noise can indirectly contribute to multiple health conditions. For starters, there is evidence that exposure to noise can temporarily increase blood viscosity and raise blood pressure.
Experts also believe that there is a link between cardiovascular diseases and noise pollution. Simply put, many loud and continuous sounds impact the nervous system and stress hormone levels. Eventually, that stress will increase the chance of the disease.
There’s also one study which argues that preeclampsia is tied to noise pollution. In fact, most researchers agree that the condition, which causes high blood pressure in pregnant women, is more common in people exposed to significant noise pollution.
Sadly, children are particularly vulnerable to noise-induced health problems, such as hearing loss. A 2014 study claims that children who were exposed to noise for up to 8 hours a day perceived surrounding sounds differently. Some of those children could not hear certain frequencies, which severely impacted their quality of life.
But what categories of children can be affected by noise pollution? Unfortunately, all of them. As stated in The Indian Journal of Pediatrics, noise can damage a child’s hearing at any point during their development, such as adolescence, infancy, and even the fetal stage.
Another downside of noise is that it can make it more challenging for children to do their homework. They’ll often experience:
- Trouble concentrating
- Issues with speech and communication development
- Lowered cognitive performance
Ultimately, it’s safe to say that noisy neighbors can affect your child’s behavior and confidence. And, just like adults, children of all ages can experience high blood pressure as a result of chronic noise pollution.
It’s advised to contact a doctor if you have noisy neighbors and feel like your mental health or hearing is being affected. Depending on your specific condition, you could benefit from talking with a sleep or hearing specialist. Therapists can also help by teaching you how to cope with stress and anxiety.
Do you have a child that experiences frequent exposure to noise? Then make sure to monitor them for signs of hearing loss. Regular hearing tests and checkups can determine if they suffer from any health issues.
It’s important to note that some people deal with hypersensitivity to noise. That is usually a symptom of other health conditions, like hyperacusis, which causes most types of sound to seem loud and obnoxious. So remember to visit a doctor, as they can diagnose the problem and recommend specific treatments.
At the end of the day, you’ll still be prone to health problems as long as your neighbors cause noise pollution. But there are a few ways you can deal with them without having to move to another place. Here are a few tips you can use to handle a noisy neighbor:
Chances are that your neighbor is not aware of the damage they are doing to your health. As a result, the first thing you should do is talk to them and present your concerns.
However, you’ll need to time your visit right. For instance, it might be counterproductive to approach your neighbor in the middle of a party, as they could get aggressive and ignore your request. Instead, catch them in a public area or visit them the day after the noise incident.
Additionally, try to remain calm and reasonable. After all, you have the moral high ground, so try to keep the discussion friendly and non-accusatory. It’s also good to have examples of when they were noisy, along with the dates supporting your claims.
It would be best if you also told them how you want to solve the problem. As an example, you could ask your neighbor for a notice before throwing the next party. Or, you could request that they reduce noise levels after a certain hour so that you can enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Sometimes, your neighbors might downplay how their noise affects you, ignoring the issue altogether. However, instead of arguing and taking revenge on them, you should look for ways to reduce the amount of noise entering your home.
In other words, why not try to soundproof it?
There are many ways you can do that, such as sealing cracks, using acoustic light fixtures, and even buying soundproof curtains. But by far, the best soundproofing method is to install sound-absorbing panels. These will trap the sound waves and stop them from bouncing against the hard surface of a ceiling or wall. And while they used to be expensive, nowadays, you can find dozens of affordable and effective soundproofing materials.
White noise machines are devices that generate a sound that can block incoming obnoxious noises. They can also help you relax, especially if you feel anxious about your noisy neighbors. And best of all, white noise machines can be used as a sleep aid, as they can make you fall asleep faster and for longer periods of time.
But if you can’t afford one such machine, you can always search for white noise videos on YouTube and play them using your computer or phone.
Noise is all around you, whether it’s a noisy neighbor or a traffic jam. That’s why learning to live with noise pollution can be a useful skill. That doesn’t mean sacrificing your mental and physical health. Rather, it means finding ways to reduce the effect stress has on your body.
First, you should create a self-care routine that focuses on making you happy and lowering your stress levels. From taking a bubble bath to watching your favorite TV show, there are many methods you can use to relax when dealing with noise. You should also try to spend at least fifteen minutes per day meditating.
Exercising will also help you reduce stress and anxiety. And, if you do decide to start working out at a local gym or going for daily jogs, you’ll get away from your noisy neighbors.
Remember that as your stress level increases, so does your noise sensitivity. Over time, any noise, regardless of intensity, will make you anxious, adding to your existing stress. This cycle is highly damaging to your mental health, so you should do everything you can to break free from it.
In the end, it’s essential to be aware of the danger that your noisy neighbors can pose to you and your family’s health. Not only can noise damage your hearing, but it can also cause stress, anxiety, and sleep problems.
And while learning to live with it can be a solution, you should at least try to talk to those responsible for the noise and educate them about the harm they are doing to your family.
Just remember to be patient, understanding, and hope for the best!
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