Our bodies are always sensing the world around us. Unwanted sound in our environment leaves a lasting effect on our health and wellbeing, influencing our moods, cognition and behaviour.
Hearing loss is not the only thing we should worry about when it comes to noisy environments. Insomnia, heart disease, poor concentration and chronic stress, are all common problems caused by too much sound. According to Julian Treasure, chairman of 'The Sound Agency,' the non-auditory problems caused by noise is growing fast.
"Your ears are always on - you have no ear lids. They work even when you sleep"
Sensitivity to sound is ingrained deep in our ancestral neurobiology
Because we cannot see noise, we underestimate the effect it has on us at a deeper level. We're constantly alert to our surroundings, and are quick to detect danger or disturbances. When something goes BANG, our fight or flight response triggers as adrenaline and cortisol flood the bloodstream.
Over time, prolonged exposure to even subtle stressors is enough to develop into a chronic health problem. Heart disease, fatigue, weight gain and insomnia are all too common problems we see today. We find ourselves not only shouting across the table restaurants, but tired, stressed and chronically unhealthy due to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Why should we care?
Organisations often disregard acoustic interference at a large economic and personal expense. In 2017, the total productivity costs for people with hearing loss was $12.8 billion, and the total economic well being cost was $17.4 billion in Australia.
The Public Health Association Australia recognises environmental noise as a public health issue. It's time we started recognising it as a standard requirement when designing spaces.
Happy, healthy and productive people are the result of a calm environment. It's time we reaped the health benefits of optimal sensory wellness by including sound into our architectural consciousness.