I feel for the Grinch, I really do. When you’re a child, you think “oh, Mr. Mean Green Man, leave the cutsey Who people alone!”
When you get older you’re more like, “Yo Whoooodlums, with the banging all the time, what evil Aunt or Uncle bought you drums for Christmas? Could you possibly give it a rest?”
We Bathe In Noise
Noise has become so ubiquitous in western societies that we don’t even notice it any more. This would be like being around smokers to the point where you don’t even smell how bad you smell. And the impact of all this noise happens on your ear drums, but it’s also happening under the hood, beneath the level of consciousness.
And that’s just when you notice it. Even if you tune out the “background noise” to the point at which you’re no longer aware of it, that doesn’t mean it’s not having an impact on your nervous system, stress levels, and even your heart.
This excellent review talks about the various ways that the noise, noise, noise impacts health. “The most investigated non-auditory health endpoints for noise exposure are cognitive impairment (in children), sleep disturbance, and cardiovascular health. The WHO estimated that in high-income western European countries (population about 340 million people), at least 1 million healthy life-years (disability-adjusted life-years) are lost every year because of environmental noise (figure 2).” 14
It seems as though the nervous system still may register loud noises even when they are not registered consciously — either because you have tuned them out, or because you’re asleep. Over time, this takes a toll.
According to Richard Neitzel, associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, “We see associations with heart attacks and high blood pressure, and guess what: That’s what kills Americans most. We are ignoring this at our peril.”