Adding insulation to your home has long been known to benefit your quality of life by helping to regulate the home's temperature, thus resulting in lower utility bills and fewer complaints about heaters and air conditioners. However, adding insulation also increases the soundproofing in the home. This not only makes the home more pleasant to live in, but it also has beneficial effects on your health.
What Sound Is and How It Travels
To understand how insulation reduces noise, you have to understand how sound works. Sound is really your brain's interpretation of molecules banging together in a wave formation. You know how the audience in a stadium stands up row after row to do “the wave,” creating a ripple effect that travels around the audience? That's similar to how sound functions.
Something, like a book dropping and hitting the floor, sets a bunch of molecules moving in one general direction. The force of the initial event determines the strength and formation in which the molecules move. As the molecules (most often air, but they can be any molecules) move forward, they hit other molecules, knocking them forward to continue the pattern.
When that pattern of moving molecules finally reaches your ears, the air molecules entering your ear canals carry that pattern down to the eardrum, actually called the tympanic membrane. At this point, the membrane moves, pushing against a chain of small bones that connect on the other side to another membrane.
That second membrane pushes against fluid in the cochlea, an inner ear structure, and that fluid moves in waves across rows of tiny hair cells. As each hair cell moves in response to the fluid, it emits neurotransmitter chemicals that travel into your cochlear (auditory) nerve and into your brain. At this point, your brain interprets the neurotransmitter chemicals into the sound you heard: the book hitting the floor.
It is also possible for sound to travel through your bones up to your auditory system. This is why you sometimes can tell that your neighbor is listening to a stereo because you feel vibrations through your feet, rather than hearing a lot of noise through your ears. Those vibrations are still enough for your brain to recognize them as sound.
How Insulation Reduces Noise
Because sound travels so well, you have to set up barriers that won't allow those waves of molecules to continue moving. If you have two pieces of drywall separated by air (as is common in many cheaply built homes), you're not going to stop much sound. The air and drywall both function as great transmitters.
But if you add something between the drywall pieces that can tear up the sound wave, you reduce or eliminate the sound. Insulation material does this very well. It's designed in a way that forces the sound wave to partially disintegrate, and it also slows the remaining portion of the wave to slow down and lose a lot of power. As a result, you hear much less sound, if any.
Home and Health Benefits of Soundproofing
The immediate benefit of not hearing so much noise, either between the exterior and interior or between two interior rooms, is that you aren't bothered as much. You aren't interrupted by people talking or moving around.
In your room, you have more privacy. You can make phone calls without everyone in the house hearing what you say. You can listen to music at a reasonable level without others telling you to turn it down. (However, if you have children, remind them that not all buildings are soundproofed well, so in other situations, they will have to be careful with stereo and TV volume.)
You also cut out noise from the outdoors, like traffic. Reducing traffic and internal house noise means your sleep is less interrupted, too, so you have better sleep quality and feel more rested when you wake up.
Avoiding unwanted noise, even if it isn't "loud," can have beneficial effects on your blood pressure and stress response. Unwanted noise, or noise pollution, is a widespread problem, and its adverse effects on the mental health and cardiovascular health of people is becoming more and more documented. Reduce those issues by soundproofing your house well.
Note that home soundproofing isn't perfect; placing a speaker against a wall, for example, increases the chances of the vibrations from the speaker making it through the wall and into the other room. Listening to bass-heavy music is more problematic than listening to music with a lot of treble frequencies because bass frequencies are stronger and better able to penetrate soundproofing.
Having soundproofing, though, is still much better than not having soundproofing. Insulation contractors can show you what they do to make your home more soundproof, so contact companies now to get started on making your home much, much quieter.