Noisy Neighborhoods Could Impact Sleep, Study Suggests

If street noise is keeping you up at night, you are certainly not alone, according to a new study.

A new study examines how traffic and street noise affects the annoyance levels and ability to sleep of residents of a major Georgia county.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the noise and sleep habits of residents of Georgia's Fulton County (which includes much of Atlanta, as well as other cities including Sandy Springs, Alpharettea, Roswell and College Park).

They found that 9.5 percent of people experienced noise during the daytime that left them feeing highly annoyed. They also found that street noise was putting 2.3 percent of people at a high risk of sleep problems.

Residents of Atlanta, Sandy Springs and Alpharetta constituted most of the people who reported being highly annoyed by street noise, and residents from those cities, plus the city of Roswell, comprised most of the people reporting sleep disturbances, the researchers found.

"This research demonstrated that the overall road traffic noise of a highly urbanized area (i.e., Fulton County [greater Atlanta] GA) can be substantial, which might be indicative of poor environmental quality in this urban community," the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Preventive Medicien study.

Plus, the researchers found that more than half of people who experienced annoyance and sleep problems also happened to live within the "corridor" of the Interstate Highway 285, which runs in the county.

Because Atlanta wasn't even one of the top metro areas to cite traffic noise as an issue in a recent Census Bureau survey, the researchers said that this means residents of other metro areas that have even more traffic noise than Atlanta could be even more at risk of annoyance and sleep disturbances.

"The two psychosocial effects of road traffıc noise (i.e., annoyance and sleep disturbance) have been associated with negative health outcomes and may lead to the development of certain chronic diseases," the researchers wrote in the study.

A recent study also linked traffic noise with the risk of heart attack. That finding, published in the journal PLoS ONE earlier this year, showed tat with every additional 10 decibels of noise from traffic, it ups the risk of heart attack by 12 percent.