Why is Noise so Upsetting?

Noise? - Noise doesn't bother me, I'm easy like Sunday morning...I think.
United Kingdom
October 26, 2008 4:39am CST
I'm at home quite alot, working on various projects. I reside in a very close very large housing development on the edge of the metropolis of my birth. Consequently, noise is difficult to avoid. Sometimes I'm OK with it; at other times, I find it makes it hard for me to concentrate. But it's only noise. Why does it have an almost physical effect on me. I can almost feel it exhausting my nerves. Music I'm fine with; ditto loud voices. But if someone is hammering nearby, sometimes it torments me, I mean thudding percussive noise. At other times, I'm Ok with it. But my question is: what is it about noise. Why does it trouble the human mind so?
5 people like this
12 responses
@polachicago (19143)
• United States
26 Oct 08
Because loud noise often signal bad news, animals and humans have evolved a rapid response to audio stress. During loud noise the adrenal glands immediately release adrenalin. If the noise is severe, the adrenals then release cortisol. Once in the brain cortisol remains much longer than adrenalin and continues to affect brain cells. It has been proven that music influences humans both in good and bad ways. Music can also be used to change a person's mood to cause like physical responses in many people. Mozart's music with a 60 beats per minute activate the left and right brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information.
2 people like this
• United Kingdom
26 Oct 08
That is fascinating. Sometimes the stress of consistent percussive thudding noise is really painful for me, and I'm sure many who reside in very large housing developments like me where folks are at extremely close quarters; and it's interesting to know why. There is a build-up of cortisol. Thank you for that very helpful information.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (87789)
• Marion, Kansas
26 Oct 08
Thanks Pola, that pretty well matches my guesses and adds a little more reason to them. Like the fact that loud noise often signals bad news and also that in addition to the adrenaline, it is a build up of cortisol. I have music on right now. I do not like lawn mowers at my neighbors, vacuum cleaners, or weed eaters on the neighbor's wooden fence.
@polachicago (19143)
• United States
26 Oct 08
Very smart. I try to avoid noise in my life as much as I can. Hope people will stay home during cool Sunday in Chicago. Leaves movers are terrible. I miss old time when people didn't use high tech noisy machinery to do simple work. Headphones with music on can always help.
@hildas (3031)
26 Oct 08
I think we all have a noise that is irratating to us, whether it be loud of not. I hate the sounds of balls being kicked outside, and like you hammering, and loud machinary. When we are concentrating, any noise is distracting. I think because we do not hear our thoughts, especially when writing or going to sleep. Hearing things to loud is actually causing pain in our ears, we do not feel it but we hate it being too loud as it is actually damaging our hearing. I have read some of this of the internet. I have read somewhere also that constant noise is the perfect sleep solution. Maybe we need to be exposed to constant, bearable, noise to get used to it and tolertate it. Even when we are trying to sleep. Although you do not live in a quiet place, the sounds you are hearing are way to loud for anyone.
• United Kingdom
7 Nov 08
That's another one that bothers me too, a ball being repeatedly kicked against a nearby wall or gate. Thanks for responding.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (87789)
• Marion, Kansas
14 Nov 08
My particular noise tonight is my neighbor running a chain saw. He has trimmed all the neighborhood trees and that is very nice. He has access to lots of large equipment, and when he does stuff like this it saves us all hundreds of dollars. It is dark outside right now, so I am ready for him to be quiet.
• Philippines
26 Oct 08
Hi! I think being upset to hearing noise depends on how loud and how the noise sounds like, and how a person tolerates it. If a person is already thinking of many things including problems and the like, the mind wouldn't want more stimulation from noise as it is already concerned with lots of things. One time, the fan was blowing air to a plastic bag and my classmate asked if I would mind fixing it a bit because she was starting to get annoyed by the noise even though it wasn't loud. Maybe there were many things in her mind that time. I also don't mind noises at some time. I can sleep with noise sometimes. But what annoys me are repetitive noises even if it is not loud enough. A phone ringing could be one. In the past, the garbage trucks always came to pick up garbage during weekends. And man! They come at around 6 or 7am when most of the people in the neighborhood are sleeping since those were weekends yet the driver of the truck keeps on honking as he comes, as he stops, and as he goes...continuously. Really inconsiderate, tsk, tsk, tsk... I was so near going out of the house and confronting them.
1 person likes this
• United Kingdom
26 Oct 08
Hi. It's true, little noises can be irritating. I find creaking floorboards, I mean that go on and on, very annoying. It's true, if you are exhausted you can sleep through almost anything. But most of us are rarely that tired! Thanks for responding...I hope that garbage truck doesn't bother you too much...:oD
• Philippines
26 Oct 08
You're welcome! Thank goodness the trucks don't do that anymore for a long time. Hello weekends!
@Chevee (5915)
• United States
26 Oct 08
Noise to me is upsetting because it comes at the wrong time. My neighbor is a very rude person, he has a mental problem and he loves to annoy his neighbors. He has this very loud old truck and he knows I sleep days, he is constantly in and out of his driveway. He loves to spend his tires. He has even come out of his house early in the morning and make loud voice noises to wake the neighbors. He has gotten in his vehicle and blows his horn from one end of the road to the other. He is just plain crazy.
1 person likes this
• United Kingdom
26 Oct 08
I'm so sorry to hear that. Sleeping during the day is very hard, because real quiet is so hard to come by. My friend who often works into the small hours has recommended foam ear plus to me; they expand in the ear. Good luck.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (87789)
• Marion, Kansas
26 Oct 08
Wild guess on my part, but the noise of voices and music have to do with communication and they go through your brain in the same way as other communication, it is a higher level of perception and reasoning. The repetitive pounding or in my case lawn mowing, etc. noises go through the more primitive portion of the brain, because they have no communication function. They may even trigger the production of extra adrenaline, I do not know that for sure, but they trigger also a non verbal response, and hammering, for instance can reflect a heart beat. If it is rapid,your heart may try to keep up. As I said, this is all speculation, I am basically making it up as I go along, because I too have that issue. I handle background music, and talking just fine, but noises are disturbing. I find it is worse if I am under some other stresses as well, like lack of sleep.
• United States
30 Oct 08
Hammering doesn't bother me. But other people's music blasting is so irritating.Don't get me wrong, I prefer sounf type of sound to silence but the music thing really bothers me.
• United Kingdom
7 Nov 08
I don't mind music, even very loud music; but sudden unexpected thudding or banging sounds: they are what bother me.
1 person likes this
• United States
8 Nov 08
Where I live, I hear sudden bumps all the time. After a while I barely notice.
• United Kingdom
9 Nov 08
Really? You must have very calm nerves. I can't bear thumping noises. But they are unavoidable where I am. Folks residing in tight concentration. I was more noisee-tolerant when I first moved here.
1 person likes this
• India
27 Oct 08
hi Whatever sound we hear, it goes to brain and exact portion of brain reacts and we feel the effect of sounds. When we concentrate hard, a noise disturbs brain's chemistry by releasing chemicals which sometimes cause irritations. It's all in the brain. The person who is making noise, isn't feeling it bad at all. Because our brain tries to adjust with the prevailing situations. Yet sometimes, when it goes beyond normal control of brain, a particular portion of brain gets activated and makes us feel unfortable.
• United Kingdom
7 Nov 08
That's true: making noise doesn't bother us at all; it's hearing it that grates so bad. Thanks for responding.
@subha12 (18463)
• India
27 Oct 08
Noise is agglomeration of many sound originating from various sources.actually it diverts the mind from the important work we are doing. so its very disturbing.
• United Kingdom
7 Nov 08
It certainly is...
• United States
27 Oct 08
Noise is something that only those fortunate enough to have the sense of hearing can know. How we deal with the noise is key. The ability to filter out the annoying sounds and focus on those that bring us joy is one that is sometimes hard to master. Having come from a large family I often found the need to escape the noise and would hide away in my room. Breathing deeply and letting my mind drift to a calm place helped me to escape. Don't let the chaotic noises of everyday life bother you. Focus on the joyous sounds within your surroundings.
• United Kingdom
7 Nov 08
OK, EB, thanks...:o)
• China
27 Oct 08
Sound affect your body by the vibration,there is different vibrate frequency of various sounds,obviously,music and the sound of hammering are different frequency,so you have the different feeling.
• United Kingdom
7 Nov 08
I respond very badly to banging, thudding noise.
• China
27 Oct 08
People hate noise,speically in the morning or evening.In the evening the noise make us can't sleep.In the other times,the noise make us feel so upsetting.
• United Kingdom
7 Nov 08
Yes, it is always so upsetting.
@savypat (20248)
• United States
26 Oct 08
All input to the human body causes stress, in today's world everything is so fast and there is so much going on that it is very hard to get quite. Do what ever you can to get some quite, some people use ear plugs at times. Good Luck
• United Kingdom
26 Oct 08
Thanks for your advice. A close friend of mine swears by foam ear plugs which expand in the ear completely sealing off noise. Perhaps I should look into it.