First, You Have to Understand How Noise Levels Relate to Stress
Improving acoustical performance in interior spaces is part of our everyday discussion, and increased awareness of the impact of noise on people has lead building managers, architects and homeowners as to pay more attention to the best ways to manage sound transmission. In the architectural and building industries, research provides clear evidence that exposure to noise impacts healing and productivity. This research influences how we design buildings for the people who spend the majority of their time in these places — the students in a classroom, patients in a hospital, or employees in an office.
Take stock of the sounds around you
However at a personal, individual level, there is great value in better understanding acoustics in our daily lives. Most interior environments should be safeguarded against decibel levels that would harm your ability to hear, however, most do not take into consideration how excessive noise affects your ability to concentrate and overall stress level.
Measuring the decibel level of activities throughout the day is quite easy to do by simply installing a mobile app on your smartphone, such as Decibel 10th (also available on iTunes). I encourage you to use one of these tools to monitor fluctuations in the noise around you throughout the day and take note of how you respond. Do your muscles tense while struggling to have a conversation in a loud restaurant (or does your dinner-mate wonder why you are screaming at them over a simple decision as to what wine to select)? Are you more focused at work wearing sound-canceling headphones or “squatting” in an unoccupied conference room?
As you experience different noise levels, take note of how the sounds around you measure up to the average decibel levels of common activities.
Decibel level of common activities
|Decibel Level (dB)
||Threshold of what a healthy ear can hear
|| A peaceful apartment in the city
||Leaves rustling in the wind
||Typing on a keyboard
||Talking in a low voice
||Sitting in a small car with motor idling; normal office noise
Taking an inventory of excessive noise in our daily lives is the first step toward a more productive and healthy society. For example, a study by the Danish Cancer Society that monitored the effect of traffic noise reports that for every 10-decibel increase, the risk of heart attack went up 12 percent with increases in risk starting at only 40dB.
This is one statistic of many that are shedding light on the impact of noise in our lives.
Planning a renovation or building new? Learn how to design with sound in mind.