Noise Stimulation and Light Sleep

From: Ron Pellegrino <>
Subject: Soundproofing
Date: 4/9/98

>=== Quiet-List message from (Jam Dancer) ===


>I am very interested in your description of the problems of
>sleeping lightly with constant noise stimulation. Due to
>circumstances beyond my control, I had to move from a quiet,
>back-apartment to one with constant traffic noise (only cars
>and buses -- no trucks, ordinarily, except garbage trucks...!!!).
>I know this is causing me to have fatigue.

>Can you cite any research on the points you are making here?


RP - Although I have Ph.D. and I´ve taught a range of university courses in acoustics and psychoacoustics for three decades to physics students and composers, I´m no fan of the academic process of citing surveys, studies, and tomes. The problem with numbers and conclusions derived from those sources is that they are easily skewed for the purposes of the groups conducting the research. Leading questions, loaded options, the population sample included, and where, when, how, and by whom the research was conducted are only a few of the spins researchers (and political groups) use to get the results they want (ax to grind?). Skepticism has always been the best policy in the pursuit of truth.

Nevertheless I never stop studying the work and considering the conclusions of researchers. As a subscriber to numerous newsletters and magazines in the fields of health, emerging technology, and science and the arts, I´m a voracious reader who´s searching for principles rather than trying to accumulate information. Participating in the quiet-list is currently one facet of my psychoacoustic research.

When I study someone´s research, I examine the premises, the context, and the process they used to reach their conclusions. That helps to locate them on the credibility scale. Most important for me is whether any of their conclusions result in principles that can be observed and tested while operating in the everyday world. If after sufficient observation and testing a principle rises to the level of being self-evident, then I figure it´s as close to knowledge and truth as I´ll ever experience.

Use yourself as a test subject. If principles work for you and improve your life, embrace them. If not, chuck´em.

Ron Pellegrino

From: Ron Pellegrino
Subject: Soundproofing
Date: 4/10/98

>=== Quiet-List message from (Jam Dancer) ===


>Agreed, in general principle (that is, using myself as a subject
>and agreeing with myself). For instance, I have broken the
>"law" that "adults cannot learn to play the piano by ear", in
>that I taught myself to do that at the age of 30 after 9 years of
>mismanaged piano lessons, when I was a child, and having
>"lost" my ear.

>I´ve also taught a lot of people to play by ear -- children and
>adults -- teaching by ear also supposed by many in the
>academic music community to be an impossibility.

RP - Of course, the academic stock in trade is notation and all that surrounds it - history, documentation, and bibliographies; a personalized creative approach, even in the arts, is at the bottom of the standard academic priority list.

>However, on the subject of using my own sleep patterns as a
>reliable study subject, that is harder to do -- Who knows
>whether I am "more rested" or "less rested" now than I used
>to be in my quieter apartment? I don't keep accurate count of
>the number of hours I sleep every single night -- if I did I could
>never sleep at all, I would be so caught up in physical health.

>Plus, tiredness, sleepiness and restlessness are not something
>that can really be proven or observed. There are lot of other
>factors -- such as general comfort in the particular abode,
>neighborhood, etc. Plus the general state of one´s health at
>different periods, and the person's age.

RP - It may be difficult to "prove" in a scientific sense but it certainly isn´t difficult to observe if you learn to become and remain conscious of yourself as you move through time.

>So, although it does seem pretty silly, trying to "isolate" sleep
>as the one variable by doing sleep studies in sleep labs, maybe
>this would be a better test?

RP - Most scientific tests are silly in the sense that the variable under test is usually isolated from its natural context. Life variables exist in a multidimensional matrix full of intersections and interactions. Taken out of context they become laboratory specimens of limited practical value.

>Or, then, maybe we should both just give up trying to make a
>general principle based on experiementation OR subjective
>feelings and just say -- hey, it makes good common sense that
>noises all night make one rest less.

RP - Common sense is born of general principles whether or not you can articulate them. For many folks lists of rules are their only contact with common sense.

>I started to leave it on that note, until I remembered that I
>once worked on a salmon trawler. The captain (and everyone
>on the crew, including myself to some extent, but I was not as
>experienced) was so "in tune" with his boat that ANY new noise
>in the night instantly woke him up. And there were many
>noises -- the generator, the general creaking of the boat, blips
>and bangs all night. He knew each one and they were music to
>him, I think. But anything unusual woke him and he was on his
>feet, ready to save the ship.

RP - What they were experiencing is called light sleep. It´s common sense that high levels of stimulation and stress while you're sleeping will lead to light sleep.

>Which leads to this: Does a cat rest any less well because it is
>so attuned to every sound? Maybe the idea that we rest less
>well with noise is NOT common sense-- maybe the Indigenous
>peoples are the ones to ask.


RP - Apples and oranges, cats and people. Ask anyone about anything; it´s always a good exercise if your aren´t easily confused. But in the end you are responsible for yourself and your own well-being.

Ron Pellegrino

Back to the Subject Links of Noise and Sound Pollution: Issues and Principles.

Site Navigation Links

Booking information and comments.

©1996-2004 Ron Pellegrino and Electronic Arts Productions. All rights reserved.