Background: Access to a quiet side in one's dwelling is thought to compensate for higher noise levels at the most exposed façade. It has also been indicated that noise from combined traffic sources causes more noise annoyance than equal average levels from either road traffic or railway noise separately.
Methods: 2612 persons in Malmö, Sweden, answered to a residential environment survey including questions on outdoor environment, noise sensitivity, noise annoyance, sleep quality and concentration problems. Road traffic and railway noise was modeled using Geographic Information System.
Results: Access to a quiet side, i.e., at least one window facing yard, water or green space, was associated with reduced risk of annoyance OR (95%CI) 0.47 (0.38-0.59), and concentration problems 0.76 (0.61-0.95). Bedroom window facing the same environment was associated to reduced risk of reporting of poor sleep quality 0.78 (0.64-1.00). Railway noise was associated with reduced risk of annoyance below 55 dB(A) but not at higher levels of exposure.
Conclusions: Having a window facing a yard, water or green space was associated to a substantially reduced risk of noise annoyance and concentration problems. If this window was the bedroom window, sleeping problems were less likely.