A laboratory study on the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep: results of the polysomnographic WiTNES study

Sleep, zsaa046, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsaa046 Published: 25 March 2020

Abstract

Study Objectives

Assess the physiologic and self-reported effects of wind turbine noise (WTN) on sleep.

Methods

Laboratory sleep study (n = 50 participants: n = 24 living close to wind turbines and n = 26 as a reference group) using polysomnography, electrocardiography, salivary cortisol, and questionnaire endpoints. Three consecutive nights (23:00–07:00): one habituation followed by a randomized quiet Control and an intervention night with synthesized 32 dB LAEq WTN. Noise in WTN nights simulated closed and ajar windows and low and high amplitude modulation depth.

Results

There was a longer rapid eye movement (REM) sleep latency (+16.8 min) and lower amount of REM sleep (−11.1 min, −2.2%) in WTN nights. Other measures of objective sleep did not differ significantly between nights, including key indicators of sleep disturbance (sleep efficiency: Control 86.6%, WTN 84.2%; wakefulness after sleep onset: Control 45.2 min, WTN 52.3 min; awakenings: Control n = 11.4, WTN n = 11.5) or the cortisol awakening response. Self-reported sleep was consistently rated as worse following WTN nights, and individuals living close to wind turbines had worse self-reported sleep in both the Control and WTN nights than the reference group.

Conclusions

Amplitude-modulated continuous WTN may impact on self-assessed and some aspects of physiologic sleep. Future studies are needed to generalize these findings outside of the laboratory and should include more exposure nights and further examine possible habituation or sensitization.

Statement of Significance

Renewable wind power is crucial in reducing global reliance on fossil fuels. Wind turbines produce low-frequency noise, which during the nighttime in particular propagates for long distances and into dwellings, potentially impacting sleep. This study is the first investigation of wind turbine noise and physiologic sleep in a controlled environment. The effect of long-term noise exposure on physiologic and self-reported response was also investigated. A single night of wind turbine noise led to reduced rapid eye movement sleep duration and impaired self-reported sleep quality. Overall the physiologic effects were modest, with the majority of measured outcomes not affected by wind turbine noise. Further work should generalize these findings outside of the laboratory.

Further reading

Wind turbine noise affects dream sleep and perceived sleep restoration UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-04/uog-wtn042020.php

IMAGE: KERSTIN PERSSON WAYE, PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE AT SAHLGRENSKA ACADEMY, UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG
CREDIT: PHOTO BY UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG

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