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On-job noise leads to sleep problems

January 2011

On-job noise leads to sleep problems

Sustained exposure to loud workplace noise may affect quality of sleep in workers with occupational-related hearing loss.

To assess connections between sleeping quality and hearing impairment due to prolonged exposure to industrial noise, researchers gave hearing tests to 298 Israeli male employees at a workplace where they were exposed to harmful noise. The study compared the sleep quality of 99 workers with workplace noise-related hearing loss with 199 who had normal hearing. The researchers explored various elements of sleep including difficulty falling asleep; waking too early or during the night; excessive daytime sleepiness or falling asleep during daytime; snoring; and excessive sleep movement.

It was found that those with hearing problems tended to be older and to have been exposed to workplace noise for a longer time. The condition known as tinnitus, which is a continual ringing in the ears, was noted in 51 percent of those with hearing loss as opposed to 14 percent of those with normal hearing. Tinnitus was reported as the main sleep-disrupting factor among the workers. However, insomnia and other sleep problems were also found among those with other hearing impairments, and neither age nor years on the job seemed to play a role in that finding.

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