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Jul 23, 2013

Noisy Airports May Impact Heart Health of Nearby Residents

Study shows noise from planes may disrupt sleep, worsening cardiovascular health.

When it comes to heart health, we tend to underestimate our need for a good night’s sleep. Not getting enough sleep can have a number of negative effects on the heart and it’s important to give ourselves enough time to sleep each night—usually 7-9 hours, depending on individual needs. But it’s also important to consider the quality of sleep. Certain disruptions can have a negative impact on sleep quality, which can then leave us tired and negatively impact our health over time. And according to a recent study, living in an area with noisy planes can affect sleep quality and increase risk for heart disease.

This study included 75 healthy young-adults who volunteered to participate in a sleep test for three nights in their own homes. Each night, they were exposed to one of three noise scenarios: no noise, 30 loud aircraft noises, and 60 loud aircraft noises. After testing sleep quality along with various health metrics, such as blood vessel function and adrenaline levels, researchers found that aircraft noises disrupted sleep and had a negative impact on cardiovascular health. Exposure to these noises during sleep worsened blood vessel function, causing an increase in blood pressure, and the more noise participants were exposed to, the worse the effects on cardiovascular health were.

These findings help us better understand how poor sleep quality impacts cardiovascular health and most importantly, how important sleep is to heart health. This study intervention disrupted participants’ sleep for just two out of three nights, which resulted in negative impacts on the cardiovascular system.  Imagine the impact that poor sleep quality could have on heart health over months or years. It’s important that individuals who have trouble sleeping talk with their doctor, as there are simple ways to promote better sleep habits and protect heart health.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How much sleep is recommended each night for adults?

  • Although there is no magic number that is right for everyone, most adults require 7-9 hours of sleep each night. However, everyone is different. Some adults may need 7 hours of sleep each night to feel alert the next day, while others may require 9 hours to feel well-rested and awake.
  • What is insomnia?

  • Insomnia is defined as a subjective feeling of having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night, or having a feeling of nonrestorative sleep. Individuals having difficulty falling or staying asleep and/or feeling exhausted in the morning despite ample sleep should discuss these concerns with a doctor.

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