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84.1 million hours of sleep a week are lost due to noisy neighbours

UK adults lose 84.1 million hours of sleep every week as a direct result of noisy neighbours, reveals new research from Churchill Home Insurance. A quarter (25 per cent) of adults lose sleep due to noise from neighbours, and are deprived of an average of 6.5 hours every week, the equivalent of almost one night’s sleep. Men lose more sleep each week than women due to noisy neighbours (7 hours, 6 minutes compared to 6 hours).

A comprehensive sound test revealed the most annoying noise from a neighbour is bass driven music, with 43 per cent of Brits reporting this as the most irritating sound, followed by couples arguing (34 per cent).

Women find DIY activities more annoying than men, such as drilling (34 per cent vs 23 per cent) and hammering (25 per cent vs 22 per cent). Men are more affected by human noise including babies crying (25 per cent vs 19 per cent) and children arguing (24 per cent vs 17 per cent) than women.

Table one: Most annoying noises generated by neighbours

Rank Type of noise complaint Percentage of people who find this noise annoying
1 Bass driven music 43 per cent
2 Couple arguing 34 per cent
3 DIY – drilling 29 per cent
4 DIY – hammering 24 per cent
5 Baby crying 22 per cent
6 Children arguing 20 per cent
7 Phone alarm 5 per cent
8 Lawn mowing 4 per cent
9 Foot steps 2 per cent

Source: Churchill Home Insurance 2018

Despite loud neighbours having such an enormous impact on sleep and health, just a fifth (19 per cent) of those affected have spoken to the culprit about their noise levels. One in eight (13 per cent) have reported their neighbour to the local council, while one in 12 (eight per cent) have taken it a step further and involved the police.

Sadly, noise disputers often result in retaliatory behaviour, with almost one in ten (eight per cent) of those affected causing their own noise to disturb a neighbour and one in 20 (five per cent) deliberately interrupting neighbours’ sleep.

Table two: Action taken to deal with noisy neighbours

Action taken to deal with noisy neighbour Percentage of people who have taken this action
Report the problem to the neighbour 19 per cent
Report the problem to the council 13 per cent
Retaliate by causing more noise 8 per cent
Involve the police 8 per cent
Move home 6 per cent
Deliberately disrupt the neighbours sleep 5 per cent
See a doctor / counsellor / other professional 4 per cent

Source: Churchill Home Insurance 2018

Local councils have legal powers to help those involved in a neighbour dispute if it involves a statutory nuisance; an activity that is damaging to health and wellbeing. Councils have a duty to investigate any such nuisance and can issue a noise abatement order if they decide someone is causing a statutory noise nuisance. Noise abatement orders tell the person causing the noise what they must do to stop making a noise nuisance or else face further legal action. Breaking a noise abatement order can result in a fine of up to £5,0004.

Martin Scott, head of Churchill home insurance, said: “Noise can have such a debilitating effect on us, due to the lost sleep, increased stress and sometimes even conflict with neighbours. It is often the case that those causing the noise do not realise how loud they are being.  They may have hardwood floors or a high-end sound system and not realise how this sounds in the flat below, for example.”

“The first step for resolving noise complaints should be to speak to the neighbour in question and try to resolve it amicably. If this does not work and the noise continues, make a record of it and speak to the council as they will be able to advise on next steps.”

Regional findings

Two fifths (41 per cent) of Londoners lose sleep because of their noisy neighbours, by far the highest proportion of people in any region across the UK. Those living in the capital estimate losing eight hours, 55 minutes each week because of their neighbours, the equivalent of a good night’s sleep every week. Those living in Scotland are also negatively affected by neighbours; losing eight hours, 11 minutes sleep each week.

The regions which are least affected by neighbour noise are the West Midlands, whose residents lose just four and a quarter hours each week and Northern Ireland, who lose just four and a half hours.

Table three: Regional differences in number of hours of lost sleep each week

Region Percentage of people who lose sleep due to noisy neighbours Average number of lost hours sleep each week
London 41 per cent 8 hours, 55 minutes
Scotland 21 per cent 8 hours, 11 minutes
South West 24 per cent 7 hours, 31 minutes
North East 29 per cent 7 hours, 16 minutes
Yorkshire & Humberside 23 per cent 7 hours, 13 minutes
East Midlands 22 per cent 6 hours, 39 minutes
East of England 25 per cent 5 hours, 27 minutes
South East 22 per cent 5 hours, 23 minutes
North West 24 per cent 4 hours, 57 minutes
Wales 26 per cent 4 hours, 36 minutes
Northern Ireland 18 per cent 4 hours, 30 minutes
West Midlands 20 per cent 4 hours, 15 minutes

Source: Churchill Home Insurance 2018

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