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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 47  |  Page : 129--136

Experimental studies on the effects of nocturnal noise on cortisol awakening response

Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors at TU Dortmund University, Ardeystr. 67, D-44139 Dortmund, Fed. Rep., Germany

Correspondence Address:
Barbara Griefahn
Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors at TU Dortmund University, Ardeystr. 67, D-44139 Dortmund, Fed. Rep
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.63215

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Cortisol awakening response (CAR), a considerable increase in cortisol concentrations post-awakening, is considered a reliable indicator of the reactivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). As noise has been shown to activate the HPA-axis, this analysis focuses on CAR as a possible indicator of noise-induced sleep disturbances. This analysis focuses on CAR using two studies. In Study 1, six women and six men (18-26 years) slept for 13 nights each in the laboratory. They were exposed to the noises of three different trains, each with 20, 40 or 80 pass-bys, with equivalent noise levels varying between 44 and 58 dBA, on nine nights. In Study 2, 23 persons slept first for four nights and then four days, in the laboratory; finally 23 persons slept in the reverse order. During six sleep periods, they were randomly exposed to road or rail traffic noises with L Aeq varying between 42 and 56 dBA. To determine the CAR, salivary cortisol concentrations were ascertained in both studies after night sleep immediately after awakening, and 15 and 45 minutes later; in Study 2 also after 30 and 60 minutes later. The time of awakening was determined using the polysomnogram and the participants rated their subjective sleep quality every morning. Subjective sleep quality was rated worse after noisy when compared to quiet nights. CAR was, however, attenuated only after the noisiest nights in a subgroup of Study 2. These persons had just performed a sequence of four consecutive night shifts. They were obviously still in the process of re-adjustment to their usual day-oriented schedule and probably in a state of elevated vulnerability. The study concludes that nocturnal noise exposure affects the CAR only if a person is in a state of at least temporarily elevated vulnerability.


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