Beer-Sheva, Israel — Sustained exposure to loud workplace noise may affect quality of sleep in workers with occupational-related hearing loss, according to a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers in Israel.

Published in the journal Sleep, the study compared the sleep quality of individuals at the same workplace, some with workplace noise-related hearing loss and some without.

The study involved 298 male volunteers with occupational exposure to harmful noise who were given a hearing test prior to the start of the study; 99 of the participants were judged to have a hearing impairment and 199 had normal hearing.

The researchers explored various elements of sleep including difficulty falling asleep; waking too early or during the night; excessive daytime sleepiness or falling asleep during daytime; snoring; and excessive sleep movement.

Tsafnat Test, a medical student and lead author, explained in the press release, “The homogeneous study population exposed to identical harmful noise at the same workplace allowed us to compare sleep quality between similar groups differing only by hearing status.”

The workers with hearing loss had a higher average age and longer duration of exposure than those without hearing impairments. Also, 51% of those with hearing loss reported tinnitus as opposed to 14% of those without hearing impairments.

The study concluded, “Although tinnitus was reported as the main sleep-disrupting factor, hearing impairment among workers exposed to harmful noise contributed to sleep impairment, especially to insomnia, regardless of age and years of exposure.”

Test’s research was supervised by several physicians and faculty members, including Ilana Shoam-Vardi, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Health Systems Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The full study, “The Influence of Hearing Impairment on Sleep Quality Among Workers Exposed to Harmful Noise,” is available online.

SOURCE: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev