The Silent Treatment

Noise is annoying. Slamming doors. Jackhammers tearing up the street. Car alarms going off in the middle of the night. But did you know that noise might hurt your health and even students’ ability to learn?  Studies increasingly point to the strain of noise on our lives. Let’s take a look at the classroom.

In an extensive review of studies on the effects of noise on children’s cognitive development, researchers concluded that enduring exposure to environmental noise is a serious concern.  

Researchers assessing the impact of noise on the academic performance of children in primary schools in London concluded that exposure to environmental and classroom noise hurt learning and performance. They stated: “These studies have shown that it is essential to give careful consideration to the acoustic design of a school in order to optimize conditions for teaching and learning” and that “classrooms should be sited and designed, so that background noise levels are minimized.”

Even background noise can be distracting. In a 2013 study, researchers concluded that 8- and 9-year-old students exposed to higher levels of ambient noise perform significantly worse on standardized tests in mathematics and language studies. A difference of 10 decibels of regular background noise was associated with 5.5-point-lower scores on average in both subjects.

Noise can be downright unhealthy, too. Research indicates that clamor in hospitals and medical clinics takes its toll on patients and workers by hampering healing, and making it hard for nurses and clinicians to do their jobs well. 

Studies show that noise can significantly disrupt patients’ sleep; and may prompt increases in blood pressure and decreases in the effectiveness of pain management.

Noise in hospitals caught the ear of the U.S. government several years ago. Medicare (the federal health insurance program for people 65 or older) began basing a portion of hospital reimbursement on measurements of quality that include patients’ ratings. Noise and lack of sleep — not unrelated — are patients’ top two complaints.

Patient satisfaction matters in another way. Pleased patients are a competitive advantage — and hospitals do compete for business these days. People not only want the best medical treatment, they also want to be treated well. And they have plenty of venues on which to tell others exactly how they feel: Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, and are just some of them.

Noise also puts a strain on nurses and clinicians. A hospital will never be as quiet as a library, but turning down the volume makes the workplace more appealing. And as any CEO will tell you, happy staffs do a better job and are more likely to stick with their employer.

Whether you are designing, building or installing for schools or healthcare facilities, ASSA ABLOY’s door opening solutions can help you create an environment free of disruptive din. Our acoustical openings are an economical and durable way to provide excellent control over noise. They are available in many styles and materials, including wood, aluminum, hollow metal and stainless steel. We also have all of the gasketing, door bottoms, thresholds, continuous hinges, seals, thresholds and door bottoms you need, no matter how diverse and demanding the environmental conditions.

For more information on acoustics and noise management, download the ASSA ABLOY white paper, Build a Better Building, Quiet Noise.