Pilot Study on Aircraft Noise and Sleep Disturbance

Project Number: 017  COMPLETE
Category: Noise

The long-term goal of this project is to understand the relationship between aircraft noise and sleep disturbance in the United States. Studies will have to investigate samples around multiple airports, so it will not be possible to use polysomnography (i.e., simultaneous recording of brain waves, eye movements and muscle tone) to monitor sleep, as this method requires trained personnel at the measurement site in the evening and in the morning and is thus too costly. Instead, this project’s researchers are investigating the use of actigraphy and electrocardiography (ECG) as a cost-effective tool for studying large cohorts of people. In order to identify awakenings using this approach, the researchers have developed an automatic algorithm that identifies awakenings based on both increases in movement and heart rate. They implemented this methodology in a pilot study near Philadelphia International Airport.   The feasibility of using the developed ECG and actigraphy methodology in a field setting was established in this study. Based on lessons learned, further refinements to the study protocol were made in order to increase the response rate and further reduce the methodological expense.  In a second pilot study equipment for measuring acoustical and physiological signals is mailed directly to study participants.  Results of this second study will be used to determine the design of a multi-airport field study on the effects of aircraft noise on sleep.

Last Updated 1/26/2021


  • Recommendations on the methodology for a multi-airport study examining the effects of aircraft noise on sleep
  • A methodology for automatically detecting aircraft noise events in recorded sound files
  • An automatic algorithm for identifying awakenings based on ECG and actigraphy data

Annual Reports

Final Report

Lead Investigators

Program Managers