Balance of sound and silence can impact health and influence emotions. Prolonged excessive exposure to a deficient sound environment causes a range of problems, including stress, poor concentration, productivity loss, communication difficulties, and fatigue. When designing a home, consideration needs to be given to whether you are trying to stop sound getting into a room to keep it quiet, like a bedroom, or trying to stop sound getting out of a room, like a home theater.
Value of a healthy sound environment
We do not always consider the health effects of a poor sound environment. Here are a few things to think about.
Any noise above 85 decibels can damage hearing. Everyday life is full of noise above 85 dB: a gas lawn mower (91 dB), hairdryer (94 dB), headphones turned too loud (100 dB), and a plane takeoff (120 dB) are just a few commonplace noise sources that can damage your hearing. At 85 dB, hearing damage occurs after about 8 hours of exposure, but at 91 dB — only a 6-dB increase — damage occurs after about 2 hours.
Sleep disturbance is the most harmful effect of environmental noise pollution. Short-term effects of poor sleep are mood changes, daytime sleepiness, and decreased cognitive abilities. One significant long-term effect of poor sleep is cardiovascular disease. Noise can also trigger a stress reaction that includes the fight-or-flight response of the nervous system and an increase in stress hormones such as cortisol. Over time, this repeated flooding of the system with stress hormones can damage the cardiovascular system.
Designing for healthy sound
When we look at designing for acoustics, we need to consider both invisible and visible solutions. Invisible solutions live within the walls, framing, floor or even in the ceilings. Companies like Bravas can work with your builder to make sure the right damping and insulation materials are used to trap the sound in a room and stop leakage into other rooms. Visible acoustic treatments from companies like Artnovion allow your integrator to custom tailor a room for specific uses like listening to music.
Often rather than reflecting noise, sound waves are absorbed into different materials in different ways. Selecting the right technology for the proper effects will change how a room feels and sounds. Specialist technologies, tools, and computer models can also be used to tailor any room to a specific need. Total soundproofing of a room is almost impossible, but smart design and technology can make a big difference.
Whether you are building a new home or renovating a great space, we would be happy to work with you to ensure it sounds perfect.