CDC sleep noise study: People losing sleep over noise pollution

Whether it’s the honking of vehicles or the sound of jet engines roaring, it's hard to escape city noise in the D.C. area.

A new CDC study looks at noise pollution and how much it annoys people and wakes them up at night. The researchers focused on Atlanta and found 9.5 percent of the population is bothered by high noise levels and 2 percent lose sleep over it.

But the U.S. Census found loud traffic noise is worse in many cities, including the D.C. area. So the problem could be more severe here.

Residents here agree that it’s a problem.

“It annoys me to the utmost because I can't concentrate on what I'm thinking about,” says parking lot attendant Al Anderson.

Dr. Helene Emsellem, the director of the center for sleep and wake disorders, says when our sleep is fragmented, it tends to not be restorative.

She says not getting enough restorative sleep can lead to being tired and irritable and even more serious health problems over time.

“People who don't get enough sleep have higher risk for hypertension, and heart disease and these are major killers,” she says.

She says some people are better at filtering out noise and sleeping through the night.

But for some who are struggling with it, retirement couldn't come soon enough.

“When I retire, I'm going back home to Louisiana,” says D.C. resident Diana Harrison. “It's quiet, peaceful, slow.”

Researchers say adequate sleep is as important as eating right and exercising for our health. And more studies across the country are needed to evaluate how much noise pollution is impacting Americans.