Honours Opportunity - Wind Farm Noise

Physiology, Psychology and/or Engineering Honours/PhD Projects

Project Subject Area(s):- Establishing the physiological and sleep disruption characteristics of wind farm versus traffic noise disturbances in sleep


Brief Outline of Project: Good sleep is essential for normal daytime functioning and health and effects of sleep disorders and sensory disturbances such as traffic noise on sleep quality and health outcomes are well known. Expansion of wind farm facilities in Australia has been associated with widespread community complaints regarding sleep disturbance and adverse health effects potentially attributable to wind farms operating in a normally quiet rural environment. Wind farm noise exposure, including audible and potentially inaudible low frequency components, clearly has the potential to adversely affect sleep, health and well-being through two main plausible and inter-related mechanisms; chronic sleep fragmentation from frequent physiological activation responses to sensory disturbances in sleep, and chronic insomnia which could potentially develop more gradually over time in sensitised individuals. However, data from well-designed studies using objective measures of sleep and sound are remarkably lacking and are clearly now needed to definitively establish the sleep disruption characteristics of wind farm noise compared to other noise disturbances in sleep.

The study has three parts that a student could potentially be involved with:

1. A survey of people exposed to wind farm or traffic noise.

One of the aims of the survey is to compare responses about sleep disturbance from people exposed to wind farms and people who live in noisy night-time traffic conditions, which are already known to disturb sleep.

2. An in-home study of sleep and noise in people affected by noise.
Self-reported (subjective) and direct objective measures of sleep quality will be assessed in participants’ natural home and noise environment to investigate relationships between noise, sleep disturbances and other factors.         

3. A laboratory study to investigate noise effects on sleep in a controlled sleep and noise environment.
Gold-standard sleep and physiological activation responses to a range of noises will be used to carefully test noise impacts on sleep macro-structure (sleep stage distribution and wake time during the sleep period), and sleep micro-structure (brief arousal and physiological activation responses).

More information about this study is available at http://www.flinders.edu.au/wind-farm-noise-study


Key researchers:

Dr Gorica Micic

E: gorica.micic@flinders.edu.au

T: 08 7221 2377


Dr Branko Zajamsek

E: branko.zajamsek@flinders.edu.au

T: 08 7221 5081