Night Noise Boosts Blood Pressure

Sounds of Airplanes, Traffic, Even Snoring Can Raise Blood Pressure During Sleep, Study Shows

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on February 12, 2008

The din of modern life may be harmful to your health.

The sounds of an airplane flying overhead, a car passing by, even sleeping next to a loud snorer may not be enough to wake you, but these night noises could be giving your blood pressure an unwelcome boost, a new study appearing in the European Heart Journal shows.

The study included 140 healthy men and women living near four European airports with night flights, including London's Heathrow. The volunteers ranged in age from 45 to 70 years old.

The researchers measured the volunteers' blood pressure using a remote device at 15-minute intervals and then examined how it related to the noises recorded in their bedrooms.

Aircraft noises caused an average increase in systolic blood pressure (top number of blood pressure reading) of 6.2 points and an average increase of diastolic blood pressure of 7.4 points (bottom number). But it wasn't only airplane noise that raised blood pressure; road traffic and snoring also increased it.

How loud is too loud?

Any sound louder than 35 decibels was deemed a "noise event" by the researchers. The researchers note that the higher the decibel level, the louder the noise and the more blood pressure rose.

People with high blood pressure, also called hypertension, have an increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Blood pressure of 140 over 90 or higher is considered high blood pressure.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the average decibel levels for everyday sounds are:

  • Quiet room: 40 decibels
  • Vacuum cleaner: 70 decibels
  • Rock music: 110 decibels
  • Air-raid siren: 140 decibels

Show Sources


Haralabidis, A. European Heart Journal, Feb. 13, 2008; vol 29.

News release, Imperial College London.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: "Noise and Hearing Loss."

© 2008 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info