Things That Go "Honk" in the Night

Published Online: Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Individuals who sleep in places with lots of traffic noise at night may be more likely to have high blood pressure, compared with those who sleep in nontraffic areas. German researchers at the Robert Koch Institute recently studied the effect of noise on 1700 Berliners by using noise maps from the city?s Department of Urban Development to find out how high the average day- and nighttime traffic-noise levels were for those particular areas.

The study found that those who lived in parts of the city with nighttime noise levels of 55 decibels or more were nearly 2 times as likely to have high blood pressure, compared with those who slept where the noise level was <50 decibels. The researchers based their conclusions on questionnaires that assessed how much the participants were disturbed by levels of background noise in their living environment. Also, they gave information on the location of their living and sleeping areas in relation to noise sources.

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