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What are the Effects of Having Background Noise While You Study or Sleep?

By Sidra Miller

Background noise can have both a positive or negative effect on individuals. The soothing sounds of nature or the bustling commotion of a city can offer numerous positive effects on both our physical and mental well-being. On the other hand, there are individuals who prefer silence. Research has revealed that moderate levels of background noise can enhance creativity, increase productivity, and even improve our ability to focus. Additionally, particular types of background noise can have a calming effect, easing stress and anxiety. Despite that, however, excessive noise can result in negative consequences such as annoyance, stress, and even hearing impairment. Overall, background noise can have both a positive and negative effect on people, as it can enhance creativity and productivity or cause further stress.

Research has shown that we like having background noise while working or sleeping. While the noise we prefer is subjective, background sounds play a big role in our lives, but we may not realize it because we’re so accustomed to the noises around us. In the modern world, everything is so fast-paced that we’re almost constantly surrounded by sound (BetterSleep). This is why ambient and nature sounds like rain falling, waves crashing, or a coffee shop is seen as relaxing (BetterSleep). Some people also enjoy music sounds because they like music that they are familiar with and enjoy (BetterSleep). Also, music activates the reward system of the brain, leading to feelings of motivation and contentment. Studies have shown that mild background noise can improve focus and creativity. One benefit is that it improves cognitive performance. The noise helps stimulate the brain and improve attention span, resulting in being able to process information faster and be more creative (BetterSleep). Another benefit is that it relieves stress and improves mood. It’s shown to be effective in reducing stress because it’s believed that the noise helps cover stressful thoughts, leading to more relaxation and improved mood. It has been proven that certain types of background noise, such as white noise or natural sounds, can improve mood and promote relaxation, but the effectiveness may vary depending on the individual's preference and sensitivity to sound.

Background noise can have negative effects, as it can decrease concentration while increasing stress and irritation. Studies show that an increase in noise can lead to higher blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease or stroke (Y). This is because noise can be surprising and scare people. In addition, people have lost their lives due to things like noise and urban pollution. Noise pollution is loud noise that typically comes from machinery like a plane. Urban pollution is the noise in a city. Following industrialization, people migrated into cities, and with new inventions came more noise. Although people are accustomed to it, some wear noise-canceling headphones to block out the noise (Y). Lastly, some people are more sensitive to noise (GriffinOT). Overstimulation occurs when there are too many sounds happening at the same time. It can lead to multiple reactions, such as it can trigger a ‘fight or flight’ response (GriffinOT). Background noise can have a negative impact on people; it can decrease people’s concentration levels while increasing stress levels.

In conclusion, background noise can have both positive and negative effects on people, depending on the situation and individual preferences. While some types of noise can boost productivity and creativity, excessive or unwanted noise can lead to distractions, stress, and reduced well-being. It's important to strike a balance between the positive and negative effects of background noise and to be mindful of the impact it has on our daily lives. By being aware of our own needs and preferences, and taking steps to control our environments, we can harness the benefits of background noise while minimizing its negative effects.

Works Cited

BetterSleep. “Why We like Background Noise | BetterSleep.”, 4 Nov.


GriffinOT. “Auditory Sensitivity: Signs, Causes, Overload and How to Help.”

GriffinOT, 17 Dec. 2018,


Y, Adam. “Negative Effects of Background Noise on Health.” Krisp, 20 Apr. 2019,

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