The Sound And The Fury (yours)Here is a tremendously elegant explanation of my sensitivity to sounds, courtesy of Tateru Nino:
Those are symptoms common to introversion and parts of the autism spectrum, often characterised by increased dopamine sensitivity and a heightened blood flow to Broca's region, and longer, more active neural pathways and raised levels of cortical activity.
...So yes, sounds (particularly patterned ones) can be irritating, painful, maddening at the wrong times and in the wrong ways - they extend up into the higher brain functions in the cortex and keep your consciousness going when you're trying to shove it aside for sleep. That ticking clock or dripping tap is almost like a pacemaker for cognition - one that you wish you could turn off.
By contrast, vision and smell can be interestingly modified. Less relevant parts of the visual field are often simply discarded, but that's often okay, because your brain is too busy with other stuff to track all of the fluff anyway.