Nurses exposed to aircraft noise report poor sleep quality

Photo credit: Cedric Fauntleroy

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

For almost 50 years, nearly 100,000 nurses have been included in an ongoing nationwide study looking at a number of health outcomes. Gathering data on these subjects, who have been studied since 1976, has allowed researchers to test a number of hypotheses. In April 2023, researcher Matthew Bozigar and associates published a paper in Environmental Health Perspectives that reports on the impact of aircraft noise on the sleep of over 35,000 nurses, with an average age of 66.1 years, who live near one of the 90 airports identified in the study. 

The results of the study showed that nurses exposed to aircraft noise demonstrated short sleep duration and poor sleep quality. There were stronger associations for those “living near major cargo airports, near water-adjacent airports and among those reporting no hearing loss.” The data also indicated that individuals with higher aircraft noise exposure were more impacted.  

Aircraft noise exposure has been linked to sleep disruption in a number of studies and many individuals living near airports have expressed a loss of sleep and rest when speaking at noise conferences. I suggest we add this study to the growing literature linking sleep deprivation to noise exposure because it was conducted on a large sample. We should also remember that sleep deprivation has been associated with poor health.  

This study was funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, but the authors state that “any opinion, findings, conclusions or recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the FAA.”

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