Contrary to popular belief, a silent home is not always an unhappy one. In fact, silence is believed to be beneficial for both physical and mental well-being. Although some people may think that a silent home is quite lonely and denotes the absence of a happy family, that is not always the case.
Families or individuals who live in a relatively silent environment have greater chances of enjoying the health benefits of a quiet home.
Reduction of stress
Noise can trigger the body’s stress response. Too much noise inside and outside the home can actually create a stressful environment without you noticing its primary effects. Aside from noise pollution outside of the home (especially if you live in the city), high noise levels at home can increase stress hormones in the body. In turn, chronic stress can cause unwanted detrimental health effects such as constant discomfort, heart problems, and impaired immune system.
According to research, in as little as two minutes of silence, the heart and body are found to reduce tension. Slow and relaxing music can produce a soothing effect, but people are found to be more relaxed in total silence. Thus, a silent home can greatly induce the reduction of stress in its dwellers.
Recovery of the brain’s attention centers
We are bombarded with sensory stimuli everyday. With so many sights, sounds, and other stimuli to process, our brain often has little time to recover. The prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for decision-making, problem-solving, personality expression, and complex cognitive behavior, gets a chance to recover in a silent environment.
In fact, it has been found that at least two hours of silence can create new hippocampus cells. Along with recovery of the brain’s other attention centers, silence can help us focus better, solve problems, and create new ideas.
This is especially important for people who need to focus on a task at hand, such as studying for a test or finishing up a work report. Compared to noisy, high-stimuli environments, people are found to work much better in silent environments.
Better sleep for the whole family
People who have trouble with sleep can benefit from spending a few minutes of their day in silence. According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, a technique called mindfulness meditation helps adults sleep better and be less fatigued. In this six-week intervention, an individual focuses on breathing and stimulating a relaxation response through meditation. Of course, meditation cannot be done without silence.
In relation to silence and sleep, everyone in the family should spend at least half an hour of downtime at night prior to sleep. In this way, both parents and children are less stressed during bedtime and are more likely to get restful sleep.
Increase in creativity and self-awareness
Other than reducing stress and overstimulation, a silent environment can bring forth inspiration, which is important for emotional health. With less stimuli to focus on, the brain can allow your thoughts to wander. Hence, new ideas and solutions may be birthed from peace and quiet. Continuous silence can then allow you to work on these ideas without distraction.
Aside from an increase in creativity and problem-solving, silence can also make you more self-aware. Less noise and other sensory cues give you a better chance to take in the immediate environment. Have you ever taken a walk in a quiet park? Did you notice yourself becoming more aware of your environment? With comfortable silence, people can also become more open to reflection (of the self and the world) and change in lifestyle.
Reduce headaches and migraines
A problem that most adults have with noisy environments is that it gives way to pesky headaches or migraines. A headache that goes away after a few minutes might be fine for some, but some people get long-lasting headaches and migraines if they are subjected to too much noise in high stress environments.
Headaches and migraines can arise from stress. In the previous part of this article, we have mentioned that noise stimulates the body’s stress signals. Thus, noise also affects tension in the muscles. In the absence of too much noise, headaches and migraines can actually go away without medication. If you are constantly getting headaches and migraines at home or at work, it may be time to reevaluate the noise levels in your environment.
Prevention of cardiovascular diseases
A peaceful and calm environment can help you maintain a normal heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate. Compared to noisy homes, people who live in quiet homes have more stable brain waves, a calmer demeanor, and a less stressful home life.
Consequently, reduced stress and tension in the home can also decrease eating (emotional eating, binge-eating, unhealthy cravings), smoking, drinking, and a sedentary lifestyle. These modifiable factors of cardiovascular disease are greatly reduced with less stress and noise, making way for a healthier heart.
How to maintain a quiet home
Enjoying the health benefits of a quiet home cannot go without putting forth effort in reducing noise in the house. These are some tips that you can start with in order to have more peace and quiet in your abode:
- Reduce TV and screen time. If your family tends to watch TV or use their iPads constantly in the house, creating unnecessary sounds that tends to morph into noise pollution, it may be time to set some limits. Children’s screen time should be limited to an hour or two hours per day (depending on their age). Adults should also be mindful of the TV’s volume. If some members of the households are hard of hearing, turn on the subtitles but don’t turn up the volume.
- Employ a bedtime routine. As mentioned earlier, having at least half an hour of downtime will greatly help you and your child a good night’s sleep. In the thirty minutes or an hour before bedtime, make sure the house is already in quiet mode.
- Meditate at least a few minutes each day. If you wish to have a few minutes of silence of yourself everyday, find a meditation technique that works for you.
- Soundproof the home. Families that live in the city don’t normally enjoy quiet immediate environments. Cities are constantly bombarded with noise pollution from traffic, construction, people, and much, much more. If you live in a noisy city, consider soundproofing your house from outside noise with various soundproofing material.
- Teach everyone to be quiet. A quiet home needs quiet residents. As soon as they are able to understand, teach your kids the importance of silence. Adults should set an example as well and refrain from yelling and making unnecessary noise in the house.