Surprising insights into wind farm noise and sleep presented at Sleep DownUnder 2021


Sleep Health | Sleep Review

Local residents living within 6 miles of a wind farm report more sleep problems from other sources, such as insomnia, stress, and spouse snoring, than nearby wind farms, a study by Flinders University found.

Using geographic and random sampling, the team surveyed over 500 South Australians – who lived either within 10 km of a wind farm or within half a mile of a main road, and in a quiet rural area – and asked them if they had any sleep disorders and if so, what the residents themselves believed to be the cause.

“Because of the unique sound of wind farms and the well-known sleep disturbance from other sources of noise, such as road traffic, it is important to investigate the possible links between noise and sleep disturbances,” says lead researcher Professor Peter Catcheside, PhD, of Flinders Health and Safety medical research institute: sleep health.

“In the survey, we found that the proportion of residents near wind farms who reported moderate to severe sleep disorders for any reason was no different from those in quiet rural areas,” says lead author Georgina Rawson of Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute: Sleep Health, in a press release.

“Of all residents who live within a 10 km radius of a wind farm and who took part in the survey, only 0.3% attributed sleep disturbances to wind farm noise, which was no higher than the rate of sleep disturbances due to road traffic or other sources of noise are due (2.2%). ) and less than sleep disorders that can be traced back to another cause (16.1%), such as B. Insomnia. “

The study also compared the sleep disturbance rate reported by residents near a wind farm with those who lived near a busy road (defined as more than 50,000 cars pass through each day); In road traffic, residents report noise-related sleep disorders almost twice as often as residents in the vicinity of a wind farm.

“Overall, there was a low prevalence of noise-related sleep complaints within the survey group. As a result, much more extensive research would be needed to better estimate the prevalence of wind farm noise impacts on sleep in nearby communities, ”says Catcheside.

“However, the ongoing analysis of our recently completed laboratory study will help clarify the effects of wind farms compared to road traffic noise on direct sleep measurements.”

Preliminary research will be presented at the Australasian Sleep Association’s Sleep DownUnder 2021 conference, held virtually this week.

In addition to the survey results, Flinders University researchers will also present results from a laboratory study examining the effects of replicated wind farm noise on people’s sleep.

As part of a large laboratory study, Flinders University PhD student Tessa Liebich examined 68 participants who were a mix of people with and without self-reported sleep problems and who lived near a wind farm, a busy suburban street, or a quiet rural area.

The study participants were randomly exposed to nights with continuous wind farm noise, wind farm noise only during the sleep phases, wind farm noise only during the waking phases and a quiet control night while they were subjected to detailed sleep monitoring.

In this study, wind farm noise did not appear to affect traditional sleep measurements, including how long they fell asleep and how long they slept during the night.

“Well-controlled studies on wind farm noise on sleep are lacking, despite the complaints from people and the known effects of other types of noise on sleep,” says Liebich of the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute: Sleep Health in a press release.

“Although no effect was observed with our traditional sleep measurements in this study, we are still working on testing the effects of sleep disturbances in more sensitive sleep measurements and in wind farm noise compared to road traffic noise.”

Both studies were funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (Grant 1113571).

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