Six Suggestions for Reducing Unhealthy Levels of Noise Pollution in Your Life

Quiet time will give our heart and nerves a welcome rest.

 by Connie Hernandez, ND

In our last column we discussed the potentially serious health consequences of living in modern environments where we’re unable to avoid being bombarded with noise.

Not all sounds are harmful, of course – it’s been shown, for example, that children get better grades and do better on tests in school when they are regularly exposed to sounds and music that harmonize their heart rhythms.

Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND

But not all sounds are harmless. In their famous, and still widely beloved 1973 book, The Secret Life of Plants, Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird cited informal studies by Dorothy Retallack, who described how plants would bend toward stereo speakers when she played classical music for them, and how they tried desperately to escape their planter boxes when exposed to heavy metal. Ms. Retallack summarized her experiments in her book, The Sound of Music and Plants, also published in 1973.

Of course, we can’t always completely eliminate or avoid noise pollution. Nevertheless, there are a number effective strategies that we can adopt to help reduce the overall intrusion of unhealthy noise into our homes and work places.

  1. Reduce noise from appliances.Air conditioners, heaters, cooling fans, refrigerators, and many other electrical appliances contribute to the overall level of noise in our homes. Try turning them off when not needed, or set them on a timer.
  2. Reduce noise from media devices. Be mindful of the volume and duration of your exposure to noise from TVs, radios, music players, and video games. Turn off unnecessary background noise for long periods daily, and consider not listening to music with the volume turned all the way up. It may help to set aside a limited, dedicated time to enjoy videos and music.
  3. Repair or replace old machinery. Older appliances, vehicles, computers, and other machines may be louder than more recent models. Consider upgrading or replacing these items.
  4. Soundproof (where possible).Strategically placed insulation can help muffle sounds from other rooms, the neighbors, or from outside. Rugs, carpets, curtains, and wall hangings can help.
  5. Enjoy quiet time.Try to set aside time for quiet activities like reading, a creative hobby, or learning new skills. Avoid playing music during these times.
  6. Wear ear protection. When you can’t avoid noise, use earplugs, earmuffs, or the kind of over-the-ears noise protectors used at airports.

Your body, heart, and brain will reward you, when you give them the quiet time they require to rest and restore. Soon you’ll be going “Aaaaaah!” when the noise dies and is replaced by the healing sound of silence.

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