Why do noises seem louder at night

Knowledge: Why noise is annoying

Not much longer, then we let it crash again: on New Year's Eve we blow up firecrackers and rockets. Especially in cities there is a hell of a noise on the last night of the year. But what is that anyway: noise?

Ten! Nine! Eight! … “When the last seconds of the old year pass, the impatient have long since started to ignite. Then at twelve sharp - KRAWUMM - rockets hiss in the night sky and rain brightly over the landscape. China bullets pop, cannon blows boom, glasses clink. Celebrating people shout “Happy New Year!” In their ears because they barely understand their own words because of the fireworks display.

Many people love the New Year's Eve bangs. Others, however, perceive it as a terrible noise and hide at home. Close the window! Close your ears! The crazy thing: you're all right. Because noise cannot be measured - only felt. Devices can determine exactly how loud a noise is. But it only becomes noise when it annoys someone.

Everyone has a different limit. A motorcyclist, for example, feels cool when he lets his machine roar loudly. The pedestrian next to him, on the other hand, almost faints from shock. And of course for football players on the football field of a residential complex, the goal celebration is part of every game - while a neighbor who tries to concentrate on his work is probably disturbed by the hoots.

Continuous sound - an environmental problem

So what noise is does not only depend on the volume. In any case, experts consider it to be an environmental problem - some even speak of noise pollution. Because there are noises almost always and almost everywhere. You can test that for yourself: Just be quiet for a moment and listen. Do cars rush past in front of the house, is there a rattle from the kitchen, is the washing machine rattling? We are almost constantly surrounded by artificial noises, in the country and in the city, often even at night.

According to a study by the Federal Environment Agency, Germans are most annoyed by traffic noise. 75 percent complain about the constant hum and braking of cars and trucks. 60 percent are annoyed with their neighbors, for example because they turn the TV loudly or constantly mow the lawn. Third place among the nuisance noises is the noise from airplanes, from industrial plants and typical "city noise": restaurants, discos ...

Stressful noise

However, experts assert that the noise level in Germany has not increased for years. More cars are driving around than before, but many of them have quieter engines. In addition, noise barriers in some places absorb part of the noise. Nevertheless, more and more people seem to be suffering from noise. Nine out of ten people feel harassed. Why is that? Maybe people are generally more stressed.

Often even the courts have to decide whether someone has to endure the noise of construction workers, yapping dogs or the day care center. In Bavaria, a couple has been fighting for years because the tinkling of bells from cows annoys them. And in France, a rooster named Maurice has become a star after a couple of retired people wanted to have their morning crowing banned. However, the judges decided that this type of noise was part of country life.

The examples sound funny in fact, noise makes many people sick. Especially if he doesn't stop at night. The ear works like an alarm system and never switches itself off completely. The brain constantly has to decide whether a sound might indicate danger. Stress hormones rush through the blood, and sleep worsens. People who live on a busy street are more likely to suffer strokes, heart attacks or struggling with depression than those who live in a quieter corner.

Sensitive ears

As draining as the constant exposure is, sudden noise can be dangerous. Every New Year's Eve around 8,000 Germans suffer hearing loss, because a firework explodes close to their ears. Such a bang can be louder than a jet taking off 30 meters away. An overly violent sound wave reaches the inner ear and damages fine hair cells there, which transmit the sounds to the brain.

So the human hearing is very sensitive. Tens of animal species have even finer eavesdroppers. Sometimes they can also hear lower or much higher tones that we do not even perceive. So it's no wonder that they too suffer when it's loud. Due to the traffic noise, some city birds have already got used to singing louder so that their fellow birds can hear them at all.

Even in the oceans there is no calm: In some regions, for example, compressed air cannons are fired to search for oil and gas deposits. The construction of wind turbines in the sea also causes noise. And of course ship engines roar in the water. Such noises can sometimes be heard hundreds of kilometers away. They affect whales and dolphins, for example, which use sound to orient and communicate.

Pets also hate noise, and probably no day of the year stresses you as much as New Year's Eve. Many dogs and cats tremble under the sofa while the rockets whiz into the sky. The firecrackers also startle wild animals and scare birds away from their roosts - in the middle of a sometimes freezing winter night. After all: The bang is only allowed on December 31st to January 1st. After that, animals and humans can at least recover from it.

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