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Are you getting a Better Night's Sleep? Many are, and it's good for your Health if you're one that is.

August 15, 2020 11:36 PM

Night Flight Noise (Guardian/Steve Parsons/PA)What with traffic being less and flight almost stopped because of covid-19 restrictions many people are now getting a better night's sleep. And this is a good thing too - because sleep disturbance or insufficient sleep has a series of adverse health consequences.

It's now been known for decades that the modern way of life disturbs natural sleep rythms and interferes with the biological clocks ion our metabolisms that have evolved over millions of years - literally from the time that life began - and it's the higher mamals e.g. us that find sleep disturbance most damaging.

A study around involving nearly 5,000 people living in noise hotspots close to 6 major European airports, including Heathrow, for over 5 years found a 14% increase in the risk of high blood pressure for every 10 dB increase in nighttime noise. There was no correlation with daytime noise. (reported in Guardian 13/02/2008)

And it's not just the noise itself, but the way it disturbs sleep even if it doesn't wake you up.

This adverse effect of night-time noise was confirmed 5 years later by a similar study involving 1,500 near Heathrow, which also detected an adverse effects with daytime noise. For night-time noise the overall increased risk of hospital admission for stroke was increase by 29%, for coronary heart disease by 12% and for cardiovascular disease by 9%. For day-time noise the corresponding figures were 23%, 11% and 14%. These effects were stronger in the case of persons with South Asian ethnicity.

Other sources of noise were studied and, as measured by subjective reports of annoyance, aircraft noise was more annoying than noise from road traffic or from rail which in turn led to comparatively higher effects from aircraft noise. (reported in Guardian 09/10/2013)

Noise is associated with activation of the sympathetic nervous system and so it would not be surprising for it to be associated with other health problems and last year an analysis of many different but similar scientific published papers (a meta-analysis) covering nearly half a million individuals found a 6% increase in the risk of Type 2 diabetes following only a 3 dB increase in noise exposure, regardless of source. Within the data, however, a stronger effect was observed with aircraft noise than with road or rail noise.

Covid-19 is paradoxically giving some people a health break due to the absence of night-time aircraft noise. We must try to ensure this becomes permanent with a UK-wide blanket night flight ban.