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April 24th, 2017 | Ask an Audiologist | by Andreas Seelisch

Ask an Audiologist: Is White Noise Causing Me to Fall Asleep at the Wheel?

The questions we receive for Hearing Solutions’ Ask an Audiologist series is quite diverse. However, the effects of white noise on your driving skills is definitely a new one.

Your questions in our Ask an Audiologist series will always be answered by a registered Audiologist that works and advises patients in our hearing loss clinics.

Ask an Audiologist

Hi, I’m often falling asleep while driving on the highway. Mostly when I go faster and also when I am on a section that is concrete vs pavement; it has a much higher pitched noise. Could the white noise be what is causing me to fall asleep while driving?

Audiologist Response

Hi there,

Thank you for your submission to Ask an Audiologist.

Most importantly, I recommend that you talk to your family doctor about this for your safety while driving. Your doctor may want to refer you to a sleep specialist for neurological testing to determine what is causing you to fall asleep behind the wheel. It could be that the white noise is having a masking effect on other sounds, drowning them out and making you less alert. Many people like to sleep with white noise in the background for just this reason. However, falling asleep repeatedly while driving is unusual and dangerous, so I definitely recommend you investigate this further with your family doctor.

If you have any concerns about your hearing, we would be happy to schedule you an appointment for your free hearing test at one of our many locations across Ontario.

All the best and good luck!

Stephanie Loder, B.Sc., M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO Audiologist, Aud(C)

Stephanie is a registered Audiologist with the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario. Stephanie currently sees patients at Hearing Solutions’ Carlingwood Shopping Centre location in Ottawa.

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