December 2015: The Acoustics of Sleeping Beauty

As the great comedienne Betty White said, “Get at least eight hours of beauty sleep. Nine if you’re ugly.” Sleep quality and sleep quantity are vital indicators of overall health and well-being. Sleep needs vary and are related to age, lifestyle, work, schedules, stress, eating habits and overall physical condition. A rarely recognized architectural design feature of quality residences is bedroom sound isolation.  Read on to learn the importance of incorporating proper interior assemblies and how noise can be detrimental to a Healthy Sleeping Family.

The importance of sleep quality and sleep quantity for all is widely recognized. When sleep is disrupted and fragmented, the result often translates into daytime dysfunction with tiredness and reduced concentration, and can contribute to elevated stress and heart disease. sleeping deskFragmented sleep has also been shown to cause memory impairment and negative mood characteristics leaving people feeling less friendly, depressed, and tense. A common cause of sleep fragmentation is noise from a snoring family member. Snoring is a problem among all ages and genders, and affects approximately 90 million American adults. When awoken by someone who snores, it is often a struggle to get back to a deep sleep. 

Bedrooms can be viewed as perhaps the most critical space in terms of sound isolation in the home when considering how detrimental fragmented sleep can be. Typical bedroom demising walls provide only modest sound isolation from snoring sounds, which can be rhythmic, intermittent, and resonant with low frequencies which carry efficiently from room to room. snoring-manAt night, bedrooms are normally very quiet, thus even a mildly audible sound from the next room may disturb or awaken the slumbering neighbor.

The key feature in quality sound isolation is in allowing interior walls, ceilings and floors in each bedroom to be free of direct contact with the adjoining room. Elastomeric isolation clips can be installed on the studs to decouple the partitions. Alternatively, interior partitions can be built on separate sets of studs, referred to as double stud construction. To further reduce low frequency sound transmission, additional layers of gypsum board can be used on the walls to increase mass.

The subfloor for an entire level in a home may be continuous, but the hardwood floors of each room can stop at each wall. Elastomeric pads can be included between the subfloor and the finish floor to further decouple the system. The ceiling can be hung with elastomeric hangers and also stop short of each wall utilizing a perimeter isolation material. Doors can be gasketed around the perimeter to reduce sound transmission through the gaps. These design features will isolate the majority of sound between rooms and prevent most disturbances from traveling to adjacent rooms.

Of course, this is intended as a brief summary (if we made it too long – you might fall asleep reading it!), so additional details are required to properly complete the isolation. Sleeping-Beauty-disney-classics-24452975-800-600

January 2016: Let’s Get Weird Volume III
November 2015: Beyond Acoustics