Home Wreckers: Wind Turbine Noise Destroys Ability to Enjoy Normal Sleep

For those unfortunates forced to live with incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound, the cause of their inability to sleep is no mystery.

For a taste of what life with these things is really like, why not start with Clive and Trina Gare (South Australian farmers paid $200,000 per year to host 19 2MW Suzlon S88s) who told the Australian Senate that, after their miserable experience of living next them, they wouldn’t buy a house within 20km of a wind farm: SA Farmers Paid $1 Million to Host 19 Turbines Tell Senate they “Would Never Do it Again” due to “Unbearable” Sleep-Destroying Noise

On the same trail being blazed by the Max Planck Institute in Germany which found infrasound exposure as the scientific cause of stress, sleep disruption and much more – Wind Farm Victim’s Smoking Gun: German Research Reveals Infrasound Exposure Causes Stress, Sleep Disruption & More – a Swedish research group is working on proving the obvious connection between wind turbine noise emissions and sleep problems in the lab – problems which are universally experienced by wind farm neighbours around the globe.

Over the last four years or so, that Swedish group (the researchers, not Abba) has been working on pinpointing the precise cause of sleep disruption suffered by wind farm neighbours.

The group have recently published a paper detailing their laboratory work, in which they attempted to recreate the noise environment that those suffering from wind turbine noise experience every miserable night of the lives, using a bank of loudspeakers on the ceiling of the test bedroom.

The fact that the subjects were removed from the real noise environment in which they suffer is an obvious limitation on their work.

A bank of speakers in a lab does not have the same total body experience as having the floors and walls vibrate as they resonate with the pulsing and variable sound pressure waves generated by 60m wind turbine blades with their outer tips travelling at over 350kph.

Those sound pressure waves in the nominally sub-audible range (below 20 Hz) are felt, rather than heard and can be measured at distances of over 20 km from industrial wind turbines.

Reproducing that kind of noise/vibration is next to impossible, unless the bedroom in question is surrounded by a fleet of Vestas v112s.

What the study did identify was the differences amongst those who are routinely exposed to wind turbine noise and the non-exposed control group; and that it is likely that the ability of those people who have been exposed to wind turbine noise over a long period to ensure quality sleep has been permanently affected by that exposure.

Here’s a synopsis of the research.

Wind turbine noise affects dream sleep and perceived sleep restoration
University of Gothenburg
20 April 2020

Wind turbine noise (WTN) influences people’s perception of the restorative effects of sleep, and also has a small but significant effect on dream sleep, otherwise known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows. A night of WTN resulted in delayed and shortened REM sleep.

Knowledge of how sleep is affected by WTN has been limited to date. Research involving physiological study of its impact using polysomnography, the top-ranking method of sleep recording, is lacking.

Studies carried out in the Sound Environment Laboratory at the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Gothenburg are adding new knowledge in the field. Polysomnography involves using electrodes attached to the head and chest to record brain activity, eye movement, heart rate, etc. during sleep.

Of the 50 participants in the new study, 24 had been living within one kilometer of one or more wind turbines for at least one year. The other 26, the reference group, did not live near wind turbines.

Kerstin Persson Waye, Professor of Environmental Medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, is the corresponding author in the study, published in the journal Sleep.

“We wanted to find out whether people exposed to noise from wind turbines over time become more sensitive or more habituated to WTN, so that their sleep may be affected differently than someone who doesn’t live near any turbines,” she says.

The participants spent three nights in the Sound Environment Laboratory, one for acclimatization and then, in a random order, one quiet night and one with four separate periods of WTN. The sounds that were used were modeled based on outdoor measurements from several wind turbines, and was filtered to correspond with the sound insulation of a typical Swedish wooden house. Exposure was further modeled, to correspond to sleeping with a closed window and window ajar respectively.

The sounds were chosen to represent relatively unfavorable conditions, with a slightly higher average outdoor noise level than is currently permitted in Sweden. This level corresponded, however, with a low indoor noise level — below the levels at which sleep had previously been found to be affected by, for example, traffic noise.

During the night with WTN, according to the physiological measures, the participants spent an average of 11.1 minutes less in REM sleep, which they entered 16.8 minutes later, than during the quiet night. The proportion of time they spent in REM sleep was 18.8% for the night with WTN, compared with 20.6% for the quiet night — a small but statistically significant difference that, moreover, was independent from habituation to WTN.

There were no statistically significant differences in other sleep parameters, such as number of awakenings, total sleep time, time in deeper (non-REM) sleep stages or fragmentation of deep sleep, and heart rate. However, rhythmic sound variations appeared to disturb sleep, especially with closed windows.

Besides the physiologically based measurements, participants filled out a questionnaire on their sleep quality and how tired or rested they felt. Both groups reported that they slept worse during nights with WTN.

The study gave no indication of the habituation effect or increased sensitivity in the participants exposed to wind turbines in their home environment. However, the group that lived close to wind turbines reported worse sleep overall, even during the quiet night.

“Sleep disturbance, a negative health effect according to the World Health Organization (WHO), can in itself contribute to chronic diseases. However, we can’t draw conclusions from this study on long-term health impact. Further studies should, if possible, investigate sleep in people’s home environments and include longer exposure time,” Kerstin Persson Waye concludes.

Title: A laboratory study on the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep: results of the polysomnographic WiTNES study; https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsaa046


7 thoughts on “Home Wreckers: Wind Turbine Noise Destroys Ability to Enjoy Normal Sleep

  1. There are several peer reviewed studies backing this story and not one in opposition.

    Reminds me of the quote,

    “If you can’t beat some one with brilliance,baffle them with bullshit.”

    Luckily bullshit is a reliable energy source.

  2. It’s not just noise, the local Fraser Coast newspaper had an article that said wind turbines are “alleged” to catch fire.

    With QLD just having had local council elections that saw the ALP mayor re-elected; it’s the state ALP government that approved the state forest 226 turbine farm and council looking for shovel ready jobs as it praises the establishment of a new NATO supplying munitions factory. The region had the highest unemployment rate of 10.5%; desperate people do desperate things. Recall Christopher Pyne as Military Manufacturing Industry minister in 2016 telling the USA’s Military Manufacturing Association that he would make military manufacturing the “cornerstone of Australian manufacturing.”

    Nothing like a war to reset economies.

    1. According to our data http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/AccidentStatistics.htm fire is the second most common incident (scroll down to Fire) and we claim to only show the tip of the iceberg since we can only report what’s in the media. The press has a tendency to describe any incident as “rare” because they don’t know any better. We also have a fairly large Health section, again denied by those who prefer to be ignorant.

      1. Thanks I got a copy via STT when you were mentioned.

        Did manage to get a sentence rebuttal to their ‘alleged’ article within another matter but getting substantial information out is to an extent blocked by media interests in a region that doesn’t like negative information because the major income is from tourism. Some underground movements are building but a lot of pressure is placed on kids to conform to renewables being a good thing that supports their future and involves them in the backward ‘appropriate technology’ push for elsewhere. With the overall mindset going back to preschool indoctrination and through kids TV programs, there’s also teachers of green ideology’s drug euphemism. In a high unemployment region a lot of open public argument is somewhat difficult.

        I’ve been snapping at political heels since 1987, sites such as STT, yourselves and the growth of films like Planet of the Humans with a few politicians starting to wake up will hopefully not make it too late as major political reform is required so it’s a many fronted fight. Another problem is extreme conspiracy theorists also distorting the true and sensible message. I do what I can having retired 30 years ago to follow my interests. A chip a day can flake the column away.
        Your response helps me keep going and telling the industry’s euphemism of blade throwing called “component liberation” has got a few laughs.

      2. Sorry, meant early 1967 not 1987 (was then in RAAF & at anti-Vietnam war protests in Sydney) was late, was tired.

        Only in one semi mainstream paper, the Central Queensland Rural Weekly 20/09/2019 (part of the Weekly Times rural news network) have I seen printed a story of a broken turbine blade, and oddly it happened in the southern state of Victoria.

        It may be that UK having a larger population in a small country with possibly more diverse local media, that incidents involving turbine problems get coverage. In AU the industry seems to go out of its way to locate wind farms in more remote or hidden areas. Apart from on private land where contracts are secret with nondisclosure clauses (see STT) the move is toward forest locations where the public or monitoring groups, by various guises that include danger from logging, can be denied entry even to state forests.

        Much like the many anti coal-nuclear stories that show pictures of evaporation from water cooling towers presented to the public as polluting smoke, and pictures of large wind farms like hectares of solar panels covering pasture or agricultural land are few. As in USA they are spoken of as being in desert locations that in the city dwelling population’s mind are useless unproductive places. Even though after a flood can cover a vast area people will pay $Ks to fly over and see the desert in bloom. With 18 river diversion projects to turn the sea flow inland, the plans have been gathering dust for years. One such project to take only the excess water inland was repeatedly rejected by NIMBY and led to a flood destroying the estuarine prawn industry for several years.

        The green movement is so entrenched a small bush area for many years used as a commando training area has places fenced off to protect ‘native vegetation’ that is in fact foreign plants that have grown from dumped garden refuse. So trying to ask what is natural is nigh impossible. A book written years ago titled The Greatest Estate on Earth that proposed aboriginals knew where seasonal plants and animals would be because they planted them and other attracting plants. The suggestion was dismissed even though there is plenty of evidence to support elaborate seasonal eel farms and quite permanent stone dwellings. It is well documented that birds and animals will disseminate plant seeds and man aiding nature in such a way is common. Even under such circumstances nobody wants to discuss what is a ‘natural environment’ anyway. After centuries of ‘gardening’ in Europe how would such an area be defined and this is regardless of ice ages and dramatic climate changes that have also affected this continent. It would seem many can’t move beyond understanding the 1960-70s that saw the rise of chemical use that scarred much agricultural land is no longer affordable to be used in the “if a little is good then more must be better” mentality.

        With our droughts and floods, abundant nuclear power could act in controlling them. It’s not as expensive as first may be thought: Richard Pratt ‘the cardboard king’ put his hand in his own pocket to pay for flat rolled expandable plastic pipe to line a considerable amount of Victoria’s open water supply channels that stopped evaporation and seepage. For his trouble he was charged with running a cartel.

        Opening up football playing to cuddles and kisses at this time shows how reliant the usury economic system is on Roman bread and circuses for distraction from the realities that should be everyone’s concern. Even bringing European finals games to AU has been suggested. They could fly halfway then isolate on cruise ships for the rest – but oops, someone might think that’s a good idea.

        During Obama’s time a French satellite studying of the west coast of the Americas was extended after another group looking at the data noticed an anomaly in the ionosphere up to weeks in advance of earthquake disturbances. Obama rejected an early warning system as too costly. An Italian scientist studying the same phenomena tried to warn Japan prior to the Fukushima tsunami but was ignored.

        Funny old world that could do with being brought up to date when every day there’s stories of what a precarious existence it is just from natural disasters.

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