Is de ‘Sound of Silence’ in ruis opgegaan?

Geluid. Wat heeft dat met interieur te maken? Alles. Tenminste, dat vind ik. Omdat ik interieur zie als een krachtig instrument dat kan bijdragen aan het welzijn en welbevinden van mensen.
In onze dagelijkse omgeving, of dat nu thuis, op het werk of op school is, neemt geluid toe en neemt het steeds meer ruimte in. Ook in ons brein. Soms zelfs in zo indringende mate dat je kunt spreken van geluidsvervuiling. Tot de dood erop volgt. Echt? Wel volgens een Europees onderzoek door de World Health Organization (WHO).
Geluidsvervuiling is een moderne plaag. Het kan leiden tot hogere bloeddruk, en een fatale hartaanval.

“There is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population”

Stille kracht

Stoelen aan het water

De moeite waard dus om eens stil te staan bij de afwezigheid van geluid; bij stilte. Dat deden de Finnen een aantal jaar geleden al. Om hun land beter op de kaart te zetten, spraken ze over bijzondere aspecten en thema’s van Finland. Uitzonderlijke leerkrachten, overvloedige bessen en paddenstoelen, vermaard functioneel design passeerden de revue. Maar hun troef was stilte. In een steeds lawaaiiger wereld bleek dat ‘Silence Sells’. Finland wist van niets iets te maken.

De Finse campagne wierp de vraag op wat voor tastbare effecten stilte eigenlijk heeft. Afgelopen jaren hebben heel wat wetenschappers de toch wat eigenaardige kracht van stilte aan het licht gebracht. Zo kalmeert het ons lichaam, verscherpt het onze innerlijke gedachten en verbindt het ons met de wereld om ons heen.

Wat doet geluid met je

Geluid is ‘de door het gehoorwerktuig waargenomen trillende beweging der lucht’. Maar ook ‘sterke geluiden gebezigd, van menschen, dieren, muziekwerktuigen enz. Geschreeuw, geschal en krijgsgeschreeuw. Geluid heeft van oorsprong een negatieve klank. Daar liet Florence Nightingale zich al in 1859 duidelijk over uit: “Unnecessary noise is the most cruel absence of care that can be inflicted on sick or well” (Onnodig lawaai is het meest wrede gebrek aan zorg dat kan worden toegebracht aan zowel zieken als gezonden). Ieder achteloos gekletter kan een bron zijn van alarm, leed en slaapgebrek voor patiënten die moeten herstellen. Ze stelt zelfs dat ‘sudden noises’ de dood van zieke kinderen tot gevolg kunnen hebben.

Lawaai schaadt gezondheid

Uit wetenschappelijke onderzoek jaren later, blijkt ze er met haar uitspraken niet ver naast te zitten. Het onderzoek toont een direct verband tussen hoge bloeddruk en chronische geluidsbronnen als snelwegen en vliegvelden. Ook brengen de onderzoekers geluid (noise) in verband met slaapgebrek, hartkwalen en oorsuizen. Neuropsychologisch onderzoek wijst uit dat lawaai het deel van onze hersenen waar geheugen en emotie zetelen (de amygdala) rechtsreeks activeert. Hierdoor komen direct stresshormonen als cortisol vrij. Het onderzoek uit 2011 van de WHO concludeerde dat de 340 miljoen West-Europeanen jaarlijks een miljoen jaren van gezondheid inleveren vanwege lawaai. Ze maakten zelfs aannemelijk dat drieduizend doden door hartfalen het gevolg zijn van buitensporig lawaai.

Constant geluid verstoort rust van patiënten

Geluid hoeft echt niet luid te zijn om te storen of de gezondheid te schaden. Neem een patiëntenkamer. Ironisch genoeg blijkt dat geluiden afkomstig van de vele medische apparaten en de 24/7 menselijke stemmen, de rust van patiënten danig verstoren. Het gemiddelde aantal decibel overdag zou zo’n 70 bedragen en ’s nachts 60. Terwijl de WHO-richtlijn een maximum voorschrijft van 35 Db. Door een verstoorde slaap en toenemend stressniveau doet dit de gezondheid en de genezing geen goed. Wie weleens een of meerdere nachten in een wat ouder ziekenhuisbed heeft doorgebracht, zal dit niet vreemd in de oren klinken.

Zorg voor stilte

Florence Nightingale omschreef haar weerzin van lawaai als ‘wreed gebrek aan zorg’. Stilte daarentegen, maakte voor haar net zo’n essentieel onderdeel uit van de zorg als medicatie en naleving van hygiëneregels. Het belang van stilte voor onze gezondheid werd pas tien jaar geleden door de wetenschap ontdekt. En eigenlijk ook nog eens per toeval.

Ben je er ook stil van? Hoe krachtig stilte is lees je in mijn volgend blog.

Ook last van geluidshinder thuis, op je werk of elders? Laat het me weten. Wellicht kan ik wat voor je betekenen.

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