With Stanford research showing an incredible 42 percent of the U.S. labor force now working from home full-time, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Quiet Mark, the international approval award programme associated with the Noise Abatement Society, explores the important question:
“What impact can The New Normal have on our sleep routines?”
Working from home in many ways reduces the need for such a rigid bedtime and wake up time, in large part because we no longer have a commute to contend with. As nice as this extra time is in the morning, the lack of separation between work and rest times can make it hard to wind down and fall asleep at night when we have been at home all day.
WFH is all very well, but it’s also vitally important to take time to be HFW (Home From Work)!
The National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep Awareness Week will be held from March 14-20, 2021. This annual event celebrates sleep health and encourages the public to prioritize sleep to improve overall health and wellbeing. Their website helpfully shares 10 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep. One suggests making sure your bedroom is quiet. Noise has a major impact on sleep. Exposure to too much noise during sleep has immediate effects while we are sleeping, which leads to short-term issues the next day, and over time may result in long-term mental and physical consequences.
Sleepiness, irritability, and poorer mental health are short term effects associated with exposure to nighttime noise the night before. Poor quality sleep over a long period of time is linked with high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
The NSF suggests making a few simple changes to your bedroom with these four tips to create a better sleep environment, which includes;
1. Darken Your Room
2. Lower the Temperature
3. Choose a Comfortable Mattress and Sheet Set
4. Reduce Noise
Through scientific testing and assessment, Quiet Mark identifies the quietest products in multiple categories spanning many sectors, including home appliances and technology, building sector materials and commercial sector products. Quiet Mark certification is the unique consumer and trade champion mark of approval. It provides consumers with reliable and independent purchase decision making, information about the sound a product makes with the primary focus to improve health and wellbeing; thereby stimulating manufacturing worldwide to prioritise responsible acoustic design to reduce noise pollution.
In The Quiet Mark Podcast, Host and Quiet Mark CMO, Simon Gosling, enjoys fireside-chat style conversations with leading sound experts, acousticians, soundscape artists, and acoustic architects, exploring the human relationship with sound, the dangers of noise pollution – (the 2nd biggest killing natural pollutant after air, according to WHO) – and the well-being benefits of improved acoustics in the built environment.
Another factor impacting our ability to get a good night’s sleep is the air quality in our bedrooms, especially during cold months when much of the day is spent working from home with the windows and doors firmly shut and the heating on for longer periods than usual.
A recent study concluded that exposure to air pollutants can affect sleep quality. Bedrooms can have high levels of indoor pollutants and allergens including dust, dust mites, bacteria and viruses. Pure, fresh air is not only energizing during the daytime but also helps you sleep better at night, so you wake up refreshed. Since we spend a third of our time in bed, the bedroom is the most important room in the house when it comes to getting rid of allergens and asthma triggers like dust, pollen, and pet dander.
“Pure air can lead to better, more restful sleep but no one wants to trade allergens for insomnia. That’s why when choosing an air purifier, it’s critical that you factor in noise,” said Jonas Holst, Chief Product Officer at Blueair. “Blueair’s proprietary HEPASilent™ technology combines efficient clean air delivery with whisper-silent noise levels, meaning our products are almost silent – so you can keep them running 24/7, even as you sleep.”
Blueair’s proprietary HEPASilent™ technology combines both electrostatic and mechanical filtration, meaning a Blueair air purifier delivers more clean air at less noise and at less energy consumption. The technology also removes 99.97% of all airborne particles such as pollen, smoke, dust, mold, spores, bacteria, viruses, pet allergens and microplastics as small as 0.1 micron in size are removed from the air.
Blueair is recognized by Quiet Mark as a brand that supports health and wellbeing as well as a quiet and peaceful home. Both the premium Blueair Classic and the more compact Blue Pure product families have received the Quiet Mark certification. Models with the Quiet Mark include the Classic 205 and 280i, Classic 405 and 480i, and Blue Pure 411, also reviewed here.
Of course, while Quiet Mark can help us to take control over the volume of our indoor domestic soundscape, there isn’t much anyone can do about noises made outside our homes. Trucks will still drive by, dogs will still bark and that dawn chorus, beautiful as it may be, may disturb our sleep, just when we want to rest.
Noise reducing windows help minimize annoying, unwanted sounds that occur in the outside environment. They work by slowing the transfer of sound waves. As sound waves travel through different materials, the waves can be absorbed, reflected or minimized. In windows, this can be done by optimizing the air space, mixing the thicknesses of glass or by adding additional panes of glass. If you’re looking for a quieter sleep environment, consider window replacement.
Pella Windows & Doors offers an optional Sound Control package that reduces 52 percent more sound than single-pane windows*. Pella Lifestyle Series windows with Sound Control have been recognized and awarded the QM certification in recognition of outstanding acoustic performance and excellence. Pella is the first and only window manufacturer in the United States to be awarded this seal.
In addition, Pella’s Quiet Mark certified triple-pane products have optional Room-Darkening shades which meet with one of those four NSF tips listed above. Their patented Lifestyle triple-pane design with integrated shades also achieves higher STC and OITC sound ratings, meaning that triple-pane product with shades provides a quieter environment than triple-pane product without shades or even triple-pane product with blinds.
One of the other most important elements of the window performance is installation. Proper installation helps ensure airtight seals as well as helping keep the noise out. From choosing the window attributes along with ensuring proper installation, Pella Windows & Doors has experts who can help make this process simple and easy to understand.
Of course, we all hope that by next year, The National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Awareness Week 2022 will happen when the lockdowns of the global COVID-19 pandemic have ended and become a thing of the past. Nevertheless, a recent survey of just under 1,000 firms by the Institute of Directors (IoD) shows that 74 percent plan on maintaining the increase in home working, even after the pandemic, so it would appear that WFH is here to stay. Just remember to take time to be HFW.
The Quiet Mark Podcast with John Lopos (NSF)
In addition to this press release, John Lopos, The National Sleep Foundation (NSF)’s new CEO, has been interviewed as the next guest on The Quiet Mark Podcast, slated for release next Tuesday 9th March, a week before Sleep Awareness Week. You can listen to the teaser clip here, in which we ask John what impact the pandemic has had on Sleep Routines.
The Quiet Mark Podcast explores the human relationship with sound and the dangers of noise pollution. More information HERE.
Now in its 17th episode and available on all major podcast platforms, you’ll see that guests are some of the most renowned names in sound design and acoustics, including Ethan Bourdeau – International WELL Building Institute, Matthew Herbert – Composer and Creative Director of the BBC New Radiophonic Workshop and Martyn Ware – 3D Soundscape Design and Founder member of The Human League and Heaven 17.
What is Quiet Mark?
Quiet Mark is the international approval award programme associated with the UK Noise Abatement Society charitable foundation (est. 1959). Conducting expert acoustic testing and verification of products Quiet Mark has over the past 9 years driven change in manufacturing worldwide to prioritise noise reduction within the design of everyday machines, appliances, technologies and house build materials, creating the first one-stop platform for third-party approved noise reduction solutions for every living space to health and well-being.
Through specialist acoustic measurement and product assessment, Quiet Mark identifies the quietest products in over 70 product categories giving consumers and trade buyers a more informed choice about the sound levels of the products they buy. The Quiet Mark scheme drives designers and manufacturers to reduce sound levels of their products enabling households and workplaces to rebalance the soundscape reducing stressful unwanted noise.
Quiet Mark has established a unique alliance of partnerships with leading retailers who are helping shoppers to find the quietest appliance technology available on the market including John Lewis & Partners, Argos Sainsburys, Currys Dixons, ASDA, Lakeland and British Independent Retailers Association.
Quiet Mark’s partnership with Good Housekeeping Institute, one of the most trusted and respected names in the UK and US has been responsible for testing and reviewing thousands of products for the benefit of its readers. The rigorous acoustic testing process over the past seven years included category re-evaluation annually to continually raise the bar for acoustic design. To support consumer health.
By highlighting the distinctive purple Quiet Mark as a trusted symbol, our retail partners are enabling consumers to make a more informed choice about quieter high- performance products they share their homes with. This is a powerful example of collective customer care to combat stress-related noise, an important health and environmental issue.