Amidst the static and noise of daily life, the healthiest habit we can adopt involves keeping quiet.

Not to take anything away from the soothing effects of spa music, but in some cases silence may be the most powerful therapy you can provide for your clients. This is especially true in urban centers, where the underlying hum of the big city is particularly pronounced.

But regardless of where it comes from, noise pollution is proving to have some seriously negative effects. Among them: disrupted sleep; damaged hearing; compromised cognition in children; compromised heart function; reduced productivity; and even an increase in accidents. Moreover, its impact on the natural soundscapes by which land and sea animals communicate is affecting their ability to thrive.

“It’s like this unrecognized tsunami of potential impacts; we are growing louder and louder and no one is noticing,” says Dr. Mike Webster, director of Cornell University’s archive of biodiversity audio and video recordings, Macaulay Library.

Although it’s unlikely that we can put the noise genie back in the bottle, it is still possible to reduce its effect on our lives and the lives of the people around us by minimizing our own unnecessary hums and beeps—turn off electronics when they aren’t in use, for example. Affected individuals can wear earplugs or sound-blocking headphones for an occasional break from the racket (not while driving, cycling or walking near traffic, though!). And visit quiet places, like unpopulated beaches, libraries and, of course, spas.

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