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How Noise Impacts Sleep, Eating Behaviors and Overall Health

There are many reasons why people struggle with poor sleep and one that often gets overlooked is noise! Read more...

Deep sleep is an essential pillar to achieving physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Without sleep the body can not repair, regenerate or restore. There are many reasons why people struggle with poor sleep such as consuming excess sugar, caffeine, alcohol, hypoglycemia, unregulated hormones and chronic unresolved stress. Another significant contributing factor that often gets overlooked is noise!

Noise has a direct impact on our nervous system. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is the grand regulator of every metabolic process in the body. The two branches of the ANS are the parasympathetic branch which governs the bodily processes that conserve our energy and helps regulate digestion, feelings of calm, relaxation and sleep. This branch has often been referred to as “the rest and digest branch.” The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for energy utilization, and governs the adrenals, thyroid and pituitary glands and is activated in times of stress. It is often referred to as “the flight or flight branch.” 

Noise, especially loud and harsh sound directly impacts the nervous system and overestimates the sympathetic nervous system. If you are someone who gets startled easily by noise this is a very good sign that your sympathetic system is in overdrive. This has the most significant impact on sleep. Excess noise and sympathetic overdrive in the day, has an impact on your ability to relax and sleep at night. When your sympathetic system is overly stressed and triggered, not only will you have a hard time falling asleep, but you will also have a hard time staying asleep which will impact your ability to experience deep healing restorative sleep.

We are bombarded every day with noise pollution. From the moment we wake up to the time we go to bed, think about how much noise we experience.  From a beeping alarm to the noise of the radio, television, podcasts, traffic, honking, construction, arguing, excessive talking, buzzing notifications on cell phones, high pitches, barking dogs, sirens, unruly kids in a classroom, or siblings fighting, loud motorcycles and car engines, air conditioning, fans and the hum of a fridge or dishwasher – these all take up massive space in our environment. Noise infiltrates every aspect of our lives. In many ways, noise can be toxic and invasive. That chronic continuous noise has an impact on our sympathetic nervous system and can contribute to irritability, anxiety, overwhelm, poor focus and concentration, and overstimulation which all directly impacts our sleep.

Not all noise is bad of course. Certain noises and sounds can have a calming effect and relax our nervous system like soothing music, singing sound bowls, wind chimes and peaceful conversations. Nature also provides us with the most beautiful sounds like chirping birds, natural water from a stream, ocean or river, or a crackling fire. In fact, the majority of the sounds we naturally find in nature, strengthen our parasympathetic nervous system and invite deep relaxation which ultimately prepares the body for more restorative sleep.

Top 8 Practices to Decrease Noise Pollution

  1. Become conscious of all the noise that surrounds you and notice what sounds stress you out and what sounds calm you.
  2. Work on becoming comfortable with silence as it is in silence that we meet ourselves and find inner peace and serenity. Practice sitting in silence for 15-20 minutes a day.
  3. Turn off the radio or loud music in the car while you are driving.
  4. Turn off the television if you use it just for “noise” in the background.
  5. Connect to your breath – just the sound of a deep inhale and exhale can help calm your mind and invite a synergy with silence.
  6. Immerse yourself in nature daily. Sit by the water, listen to the birds or crickets chirping, tune in to the sounds of nature’s music.
  7. Choose your music carefully – what vibration, sounds and instruments calm your nervous system? Is it beautiful singing harmonies, acoustic guitar, relaxing piano? What sounds stress your nervous system? Delete those from your playlists.
  8. Create calm, quiet and lower volumes in your home and especially in your bedroom, 1 hour before bed. Turn everything down. What can be quieter? What can be turned off?

When you have less hits on the sympathetic nervous system in the daytime and deep restorative slight throughout the night, you will also find your eating will become more regulated and you will have less “off path” moments. You will crave less sugar and caffeine because you will naturally have more energy, drive and focus to get through your day. You will crave fewer salty snacks because your nervous system won’t be so stressed and overstimulated. You may crave less comfort food because you will naturally feel calmer.

Be aware of the daily noise you experience. Consciously work on finding more peace and quiet in a busy noisy world and notice how it plays a role in your sleep, eating behaviors and overall health.

Yours in health & vitality,


“Silence helps you explore the hidden treasures within yourself.” – Christina Feldman 

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