stereo next door that has kept us awake. Indeed, experts say the intensity, abruptness, regularity, intrusiveness, familiarity and regularity of noises all affect sleep.
Noises at levels as low as 40 decibels or as high as 70 decibels generally keep us awake. Interestingly, however, the absence of a familiar noise can also disrupt sleep. City dwellers may have trouble falling asleep without the familiar sounds of traffic. Or a traveler may find it difficult to sleep without the familiar tick, tick, tick of the alarm clock at home.
Some noises, although annoying at first, can gradually be ignored, allowing sleep to follow. Studies show people can get used to noises such as city traffic in about one week. However, important noises, like a parent's baby crying, a smoke alarm or even one's own name being called, are not easily assimilated and generally snap us awake.
Experts are also studying the ability of certain sounds to induce sleep. "White noise," such as caused by a fan, air conditioner, or radio static, can often block out unwanted noise and encourage sleep.
Little research is available and not surprisingly on how much sleeping surfaces affect our slumber. For the most part, we know people sleep better when horizontal and not cramped by space. As with noise, however, women and more mature people appear more sensitive to variations in sleep surfaces.
The point at which sleep is disturbed due to temperature or climate conditions varies from person to person. Generally, temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit and below 54 degrees will awaken people.
The higher the altitude, the greater the sleep disruption. Generally, sleep disturbance becomes greater at altitudes of 13,200 feet or more. The disturbance is thought to be caused by diminished oxygen levels and accompanying changes in respiration. Most people adjust to new altitudes in approximately two to three weeks.
Modifying your behavior and taking sleeping pills are both commonly accepted measures used to minimize certain sleep disorders.
As mentioned, certain behaviors can help your body better adjust to new time zones and surroundings. Although there are