Episode 131: May it Breeze the Court

Episode 131

16th October 2013

Our litigant Adrienne has always used fan noise to fall asleep. Her husband says the noise drives him crazy, and that it masks night sounds too well – he worries that they won’t hear a burglar alarm or their daughter crying in the middle of the night. Should Adrienne keep her sleep aid, or is Patrick entitled to peace and quiet?

Episode notes

Our litigant Adrienne has always used fan noise to fall asleep. Her husband says the noise drives him crazy, and that it masks night sounds too well – he worries that they won’t hear a burglar alarm or their daughter crying in the middle of the night. Should Adrienne keep her sleep aid, or is Patrick entitled to peace and quiet?

Thanks to Bob Canty for suggesting a variation of this week’s case name! To suggest a title for a future episode, like us on Facebook at Judge John Hodgman! We regularly put a call for submissions.

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Evidence

Submitted by Patrick
Exhibit P1:
Most damning is the screengrab from my phone using the app “Decibel 10th” showing the decibel level of the fan Adrienne likes as 89dB, or similar to an “Average Motorcycle”.

Exhibit P2:
Public health agencies have been studying and attempting to quantify the adverse effects of ambient noise for some time. I’d like to direct the court’s attention to a particular threshold determined by a World Health Organization study (Night noise guidelines for Europe. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2009 ( http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43316/E92845.pdf), to wit:

Above 55 dB The situation is considered increasingly dangerous for public health. Adverse health effects occur frequently, a sizeable proportion of the population is highly annoyed and sleep-disturbed. There is evidence that the risk of cardiovascular disease increases.

In essence, my wife is subjecting me to a condition “highly dangerous for public health”.

Submitted by Adrienne

Exhibit A1:

A short recording of my particular fan, which I think the Judge will agree is hardly noxious.

Exhibit A2:

Sleep arousal threshold is improved by fan noise (from “The influence of white noise on sleep in subjects exposed to ICU noise.”). This is important I think for me as I believe my arousal threshold is on the lower end of the spectrum. I awaken easily, and this has probably worsened with age, carrying a pager, working at night, and having a young child. The fan has always helped me in situations where I had less control over my sleep environment, such as sharing a bedroom with a sibling, living in a dorm, having roommates, and now living in my in-laws’ home. The fan greatly decreases my anxiety regarding ability to fall asleep.

From the study’s conclusion: “Mixed frequency white noise increases arousal thresholds in normal individuals exposed to recorded ICU noise by reducing the difference between background noise and peak noise.”

Exhibit A2:

Healthy sleep environment. Using white noise is recommended by The Sleep Foundation.

“Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep – cool, quiet, dark, comfortable and free of interruptions. Also make your bedroom reflective of the value you place on sleep. Check your room for noise or other distractions, including a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring, light, and a dry or hot environment. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise,” humidifiers, fans and other devices.”

Exhibit A3:
Pregnancy sleep tips: emphasizes importance of good sleep during pregnancy. Now, when I am pregnant, would be an especially poor time to change my sleep routine.

“Poor sleep can also have an effect on labor and delivery. Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco recently found that women who slept fewer than 6 hours per night had longer labors and were 4.5 times more likely to have cesarean deliveries. Based on these findings, the researchers recommend that doctors discuss both sleep quantity and sleep quality with their pregnant patients as part of basic prenatal care and stress the importance of “sleeping for 2”.”

Exhibit A4:
Infant sleep: there is some proven benefit to using fan for infants’ health. – from the study “Use of a fan during sleep and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.” This is why we’ve kept a fan in our daughter’s room.
Conclusion was “Fan use may be an effective intervention for further decreasing SIDS risk in infants in adverse sleep environments.”

 

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