This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

As the saying goes, silence is golden. Sleeping in a noisy space not only disrupts the quality of your sleep, but it can also leave you feeling less satisfied with your overall sleep experience.  Part of the reason is because during sleep, the brain continues to register and process sounds, affecting everything from heart rate to blood pressure, which in turn can trigger nighttime waking.  Noise—whether you are conscious of it or not—can cause you to wake up feeling unsatisfied and unrested. Learn how noise levels can impact your sleep satisfaction and how to manage it.

Frequent Waking Lowers Sleep Satisfaction

Not surprisingly, loud noises during the night will startle you out of your sleep. The degree to which this happens depends on the stage of sleep you’re in, the time of night, and how you feel about the sounds themselves.  For instance, noise tends to be most disruptive during lighter stages of sleep, such as the first few moments after you close your eyes, or at certain periods in the middle of the night. But it can also rouse you from deep sleep,  and tends to disturb sleep more during the second half of the night. While you may be able to fall back asleep after these interruptions, the result is that when you wake in the morning, you feel unsatisfied with the rest you got, even if you can’t pinpoint why this is the case.

Stressful Sounds Increase Sleep Struggles

You are also likely to wake up when the noise is familiar or emotionally charged, such as the cries of a hungry baby.  Some people become accustomed to the background drone of city life or nearby traffic, but noises that could signal danger, like the squeal of car brakes or a honking horn, can jar you awake and have a negative effect on your health.  These types of stress-inducing sounds lower both your ability to sleep  and how good you feel in the morning.

Noisy Environments Cause Restlessness

Even though you may recall being asleep for most of the night, high noise levels are a source of increased restlessness during sleep. This includes twitching, moving, and shifting between stages of sleep.  All that tossing and turning can lead to a subjective feeling of lower sleep satisfaction, as well as more measurable feelings of sleepiness and mood changes the following day.

How to Manage A Noisy Bedroom

Minimizing the likelihood of distracting sounds before going to bed will take you a step closer to better sleep, and greater sleep satisfaction. Consider placing a white noise machine in your bedroom,  and try wearing ear plugs if you live in a loud urban environment.  Position your bed away from windows and thin walls, and turn off all electronics in your home before you go to sleep.

Some noise is unavoidable, but limiting the possibility of loud thumps, clunks, and other distracting sounds when sleeping can help improve how satisfied you feel in the morning.