If you happen to live with someone who snores, there is a good chance that you have at least considered the use of earplugs in a desperate attempt to enjoy a peaceful uninterrupted night of rest.
Earplugs come in several different styles including expandable foam, shaped silicone, musician style, custom fitted and even electronic earplugs. Each style is designed to filter out a specified amount of sound measured in decibels. Overall, they are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased just about anywhere.
The use of earplugs to block out snoring
So you have decided to try out a set of earplugs in order to drown out your partner’s loud snoring. What are the best earplugs for snoring?
Generally speaking, your best choice in hearing protection is going to be a soft foam plug with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 30 or greater. There are numerous inexpensive products which meet this requirement. Many of them can be purchased online or at your local drug store such as the one pictured above. Another option is to have your doctor create a pair that is custom fitted to the shape of your ear canals.
When choosing a pair of earplugs, pay close attention to the NRR rating which is the most important factor that should be used to compare one product to another. The NRR is simply indicating the number of reduced decibels of sound. The sound rating of snoring is usually between 50 dB for a light snorer and 80 dB for a heavy snorer. This is equivalent to the sound of an average conversation all the way up to the sound of a running gasoline powered lawnmower! By using a pair of 30 NRR earplugs, you can reduce the sound level of most snoring down to the equivalent of a whisper.
Disposable vs reusable
There is some debate when it comes to disposable vs reusable as far as which is better. As for effectiveness, when installed properly a disposable set of earplugs with an NRR of 30 should block out 30 dB of sound just as effectively as a pair of reusable plugs with an NRR of 30. Reusables, of course, offer a long-term cost savings advantage. Keep in mind that special care should be taken while cleaning reusables to avoid ear infections.
If you are interested a short-term, low-cost solution to muffle your partners snoring then disposables are perfect. If you want to spend a little bit more up front to save in the long run and don’t mind thoroughly cleaning your earplugs, then a reusable set may be a better choice.
Either way, the product should stand up to its NRR claims whether disposable or reusable.
Choosing a pair
The reality of choosing a pair of earplugs comes down to comfort and effectiveness.
In general, both disposable and reusable types are fairly inexpensive, costing just a few dollars for one pair of reusable or a few dollars for several pairs of disposables. This means that comfort and effectiveness are most important. As for comfort, compare the softness of the material used. Some plugs exert less outward pressure on the ear canal, making them more comfortable to wear over a longer period of time.
As discussed above, choose a pair with a 30 or greater noise reduction rating. This will provide the best level of protection against the sound of your partners snoring. Do they sound more like a lawnmower when they snore? You will want to choose some with a higher NRR to ensure a peaceful night’s rest.
Are earplugs really a snoring solution?
Earplugs are often used to block out the sound of a partners snoring but is this really a solid solution? The reality is that it’s much better to address the source of the sound which in this case is your partner. The fact is, your partner’s snoring could be reduced by using a simple device such as a mandibular advancement splint. In some cases, their snoring may be an indicator of a more serious condition such as sleep apnea and should not be ignored by putting earplugs into your ears.
Before resorting to earplugs, have your partner discuss their snoring problem with their doctor. An experienced doctor should be able to evaluate their condition and help to decide whether or not they should consult with a sleep specialist concerning the possibility of a medical issue. In other cases, snoring may be classified as benign snoring meaning that it should not cause damage to their health.
If it turns out that they simply snore, treating the sounds associated with simple snoring can be achieved using a snoring mouthpiece. These devices range in price between $40-$200 and in most areas are only available online. I’ve experimented with nearly 2 dozen different types of mouthpieces and posted a list of recommended devices here.
There are of course professionally fitted mouthguards that can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars and are available from your doctor. Either way, they all work by gently holding the lower jaw in a forward position which helps to create a tight and clear passageway for air to travel.
Using a pair of earplugs is technically not treating the source of the problem. We are talking about your partner’s snoring problem, not yours. Why should you be the one wearing earplugs?
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