We all know that sleeping with a snorer isn’t a vacation, but if it were work, you might be cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for a safety violation. The volume of snoring can exceed OSHA guidelines for workplace noise requiring ear protection. Unfortunately, even if you tried to use ear protection, you’d find that it’s not as effective as you think.
The Loudest and Average Snorers
Snorers produce sounds over a wide range of volumes. Some are barely audible, while others are damaging. According to several studies, the average snorer produces sound at a volume of about 50 decibels (dB). At this volume, snoring can be disruptive to sleep, but it is not damaging.
However, some snorers exceed this level significantly. The loudest recorded snoring measures in at 111 dB. At this level, workers would be required by OSHA to wear ear protection if they were exposed to the sound for about half an hour a day.
Even the much lower volume of 90 dB would require ear protection for 8 hours of exposure, according to OSHA.
Ear Protection Won’t Work as Well as You Think
You might think that the solution to protect your ears (and your sleep!) from the devastating effects of snoring is to get earplugs or another form of ear protection. However, you need to know that because of the way these devices are rated, they may seem much more effective against snoring than they really are.
Ear protection is typically listed with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that is rated in decibels. Common earplugs, for example, might be rated in the region of 20-25 dB NRR. You might think, “Great, that’ll cut down the volume of my spouse’s snoring by half!” But it’s not the case.
Although the NRR is in decibels, it doesn’t represent the actual noise reduction in decibels. Instead, the actual noise reduction can be approximated by taking the NRR, subtractive 7, and dividing by 2. Thus, the 25 dB NRR earplugs will reduce sound by (25-7)/2=9. Just a 9 dB reduction in sound, less than a 20% reduction! And combining ear protection only adds 5 to the actual noise reduction of the best-rated protection.
How to Protect Your Ears
Although OSHA isn’t likely to break into your bedroom and write you a ticket, you really should do something about your partner’s snoring. We can recommend an effective treatment for your partner’s snoring. We may also recommend a sleep apnea screening to determine whether your partner’s life is in danger.
To learn more about snoring solutions, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.