How the other half sleeps

Is access to peace and quiet a luxury?

International Noise Awareness Day 2016 | If you're like me, and interested in everything related to sleep, you know that Arianna Huffington is on a "sleep tour" to promote sleep health to college students while she promotes her book The Sleep Revolution. There is substantial evidence in scholarly literature about the negative impact of sleep debt on health, but I love it when this issue is covered in popular culture. Unfortunately, a lot of people can't benefit from mainstream sleep health advice because they can't escape noise pollution. Some forms of environmental noise can be mitigated by use of ear plugs, white noise, and acoustic window fittings - but not all can.

I would never downplay the negative impact of noise pollution on everyday life, whether it affects work, studying, or relaxation. But my greatest concern has always been the effects of noise on sleep, and what that does to our health and well-being. 1 2 3 4 5

Equally troubling is evidence that the effects of noise on sleep and related health outcomes are especially prevalent - but underreported - among those who are economically disadvantaged. 6 7 8 9 10

As a health educator and public health student, I'm well aware of the foundations of good health. I believe that without enough sleep, it doesn't matter what else you do. The healthiest eating habits in the world and the greatest dedication to exercise won't counter the effects sleep deprivation. And yes, I know that a lot of sleep debt occurs by choice. But not mine. Since horn-based lock feedback began to interfere with my sleep, it has not been the same, except when I've been able to sleep in a rear-facing room. Before, I'd never been aware that we actually initiate sleep - who knew? I'm aware of it now because it's a struggle.

It never ceases to boggle my mind that design engineers would elect to use a technology that has the potential to interrupt people's sleep. Sleep is so precious. It should be available to everyone, and it shouldn't come to pass that some people have access to better sleep while others are at the mercy of the whims of design engineers and manufacturers and decision makers who have no moral compass. More and more, sleep and access to sufficient peace are becoming amenities.

If you are responsible in any way for the continued existence of horn-based lock feedback technology that has the potential to wake people up, you are a polluter - it's that simple.

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