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New Study: The Case for Peace and Quiet

Baby with headphones.
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

We've all been there: You've had more than one sleepless night in a row (in fact, you lost count) and your baby is up again ... crying. You decide to take a drive with the radio on or turn the TV on to hum them to sleep. It does the trick generally, but could this constant exposure to noise and stimulation actually hurt your child's development later in life?

Sometimes we all just need some peace and quiet to relax, refresh and get back to our center. As it turns out, that might also be the case for babies, who are often overstimulated with colorful toys, loud noises and tons of attention.

A study performed by researchers at Yale University played varying levels of noises to mice for extended periods of time and found that the constant stimulation led to a significant drop in blood vessels being formed—in other words, not as much oxygen was reaching the brain. Bad news when it comes to development in children.

But what are the long-term effects of this type of overstimulation? For one, there can be an increased susceptibility to diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure as well as the possibility for accelerated aging.

Neurologist Dr. Jaime Grutzendler commented, "Mild stimulation—what you would call normal or healthy stimulation—does not cause any effect on blood vessels. But what is not perfectly fine is to have these repetitive noises, which are persistent. That is a stressful situation for the brain when it is vulnerable because it is developing these new connections and new blood vessels."

Ways to work around using noises all day? Have quiet times at home—it could lead to a lot more peace and quiet and happiness in the long run.

The study was recently published in Nature.

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