The impact of psychological factors on self-reported sleep disturbance among people living in the vicinity of wind turbines

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Canada's wind energy capacity has grown from approximately 137 MW (MW) in 2000 to over 9700 MW in 2014, and this progressive development has made Canada the fifth-largest market in the world for the installation of new wind turbines (WTs). Although wind energy is now one of the fastest growing sources of power in Canada and many other countries, the growth in both number and size of WTs has raised questions regarding potential health impacts on individuals who live close to such turbines.

This study is the first published research using a prospective cohort design, with noise and sleep measurements obtained before and after installation of WTs to investigate effect of such turbines on self-reported sleep disturbances of nearby residents. Subjective assessment of sleep disturbance was conducted in Ontario, Canada through standard sleep and sleepiness scales, including the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), and Epworth daytime Sleepiness Scale (ESS). Both audible and infra-sound noises were also measured inside the bedroom. Descriptive and comparison analyses were performed to investigate the effect of WT exposure on sleep data.

Results of the analysis show that participants reported poorer sleep quality if they had a negative attitude to WTs, if they had concerns related to property devaluation, and if they could see turbines from their properties. This study provides evidence for the role of individual differences and psychological factors in reports of sleep disturbance by people living in the vicinity of WTs.

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