Halloween this year was crazy. I’ve recently moved into an actual house that I share with roommates, and the three of us volunteered to host Halloween at our place.
For those that don’t know, I live for these kind of events. Anything to celebrate the season with corny music and fun games does a lot to make me happy, so wanting this party to be perfect, I volunteered to assemble the music and organize the games.
On the night of the party, we had close to 40 people invade my home, and I was busy the whole night getting everyone organized for the various games I had planned and making sure the music was playing. It was quite the event with people filtering in and out the whole night, and I almost had to wonder whether people would still be there by the time I decided to go to bed.
At the end of the evening, I was left with strewn balloons and the realization that I might not have even needed the music, since most of the time it couldn’t even be heard over the sound of everyone mingling and having a good time. As I sat in my easy chair recovering from the thrill of the evening, with my roommates already in bed, I basked in the silence around me.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but this silence was essential for my recovery after such an event. I’m an extrovert and I get a certain high after being around so many people, but my brain needed some peace and quiet. I was subconsciously giving it what it needed.
I realized this the other day while I was listening to the radio. There was a segment discussing the benefits of silence and how it can literally expand our minds, and the consequences of having white noise constantly around us.
Intrigued, I looked into this further.
I found a 2013 study using mice published in the journal “Brain, Structure and Function,” which found that after exposing them to two hours of silence, the mice were able to generate new brain cells. These new cells appeared to become functioning neurons.
On the other side of this, a 2002 study published in “Psychological Science” found that children who are exposed to constant noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore not only the white noise, but important sounds such as human speech. This can result in increased stress and tension.
In our society, many people leave the TV on just for white noise. Children now have noise machines to help them sleep. Our phones allow us to carry music and sounds with us wherever we go.
I don’t watch TV or have a noise machine, but my ceiling fan makes noise. And isn’t it a requirement in Texas homes to have the fans running in the bedrooms?
These studies made me think about how much time I have set aside in my day for silence. Just like anything else, silence has to be scheduled. Maybe it’s especially important after a big event, like my Halloween party, but even in the morning or before bed, I typically try to schedule some time for quiet. Life is busy, and whether we realize it or not we’re constantly surrounded by noise. Taking some time to sit, in an easy chair or not, and bask in the silence we’ve created could do us a world of good.
On that note, if anyone wants to buy me noise-canceling headphones I’m all ears.