frustrated woman covering her ears from her partner snoring too loud in bedIf you sleep with a regular snorer, you might find it impossible to sleep because of the sound of their snoring. But is their snoring really that loud?

Could be. Some recorded snoring is incredibly loud. If your partner’s snoring is so loud that it keeps you awake, it might not just be snoring that’s the problem. It might be obstructive sleep apnea, which can have deadly consequences–and lead to numerous expensive medical bills.

Fortunately, sleep apnea–and the snoring that comes with it–can be highly treatable. You and your partner don’t have to suffer from snoring and sleep apnea. Instead, at the Michigan Head & Neck Institute in the Detroit area, we can help you and your partner get quiet, restful, and healthy sleep.

The Scale of Sounds

Scientists use a scale of sounds called “decibels” (dB) to measure sounds. The decibel scale is designed to measure sounds along the entire range of human hearing, from the faintest sounds a person with perfect hearing could hear (a 0 on the decibel scale) on up.

Since human beings actually have a wide range of hearing, the scale is logarithmic. That means that each time a decibel value goes up by 10, the sound volume actually increases 10 times. This means that a 10 dB sound is ten times as loud as a 0 dB sound, and a 30 dB sound is actually 1000 times as loud as a 0 dB sound.

How Loud Can Snoring Be?

Given the context of the decibel scale, it might shock you just how loud snoring can be. According to Guinness World Records, the loudest snoring measured 93 dB. That’s louder than a gas-powered lawnmower or a diesel truck driving down a Detroit street. It’s also more than a billion times as loud as the quietest sound possible. It’s so high that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) would require an employer to provide ear protection. If a person experiences an average of 85 dB or above for eight hours, OSHA says that employers have to provide employees with ear protection. Unfortunately, OSHA doesn’t cover most of our sleeping situations. Anyway, there are good reasons you don’t want to rely on earplugs while sleeping.

However, there is an even louder snorer reported and recorded in a reasonably reliable fashion. A British woman had her snoring recorded at 111.6 dB, or nearly 100 times as loud as the supposed record-holder and about as loud as a low-flying jet. People move to Warren to be far from the Detroit Metro Airport, so nobody wants that in their bedroom!

Loud Snoring Increases Sleep Apnea Risk

Obviously, snoring doesn’t have to be nearly that loud to disrupt your sleep. Nor does it have to be that loud to be a sign of a problem. Snoring at a much lower level is likely to be linked to sleep apnea risk.

One of the leading studies on this subject studied snorers and analyzed the snoring of more than 1600 snorers referred to a clinic for sleep apnea testing. Researchers found that the louder the snoring, the more severe the sleep apnea. For their study, they used a modified sleep apnea scale that depends on the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), which represents the number of times each hour that your breathing stops long enough for you to wake up partially. The scale they used divided up like this:

  • No sleep apnea: AHI less than 5
  • Mild: AHI 5 to 15
  • Moderate: AHI 15 to  30
  • Severe: AHI 30 to 50
  • Very severe: AHI over 50

In each category, the average volume of snoring was louder than the category before it. For example, the average volume of snoring among people with no sleep apnea was 46 dB. That’s between the sound of a whisper and the average background noise of a house in Detroit. However, the snoring of people with very severe sleep apnea (which they defined as having an AHI of 50 or more) was 60 dB, about the sound of a normal conversation.

So, if a person has a snore that’s as quiet as a whisper, they are less likely to have sleep apnea than someone who snores as loud as people talking normally.

Characteristics That Show Sleep Apnea Risk

Other studies show that it’s the intensity of sound, not the duration, that’s likely linked to sleep apnea. One study found that the more intense the jump in vibrations–a sudden increase in snoring volume–the more likely the risk of sleep apnea. On the other hand, just looking at the amount of time a person snores doesn’t indicate sleep apnea risk. In other words, a person who snores all night quietly is less likely to have sleep apnea than someone who snores intensely and loudly for a short period of time.

Treatment for Snoring and Sleep Apnea in Detroit

If you share a bed or a house in Detroit with someone who snores loudly, it’s not just you who is suffering. The truth is that the person who snores loudly is likely having their sleep interrupted as often as you–if not more. They might not fully wake up, but their sleep patterns are fragmented, and they likely aren’t getting healthy restorative sleep.

You don’t have to keep suffering because of snoring. You can get help for the snorer in your life so that both of you can sleep deeply and peacefully every night. Let the Detroit sleep dentists at the Michigan Head & Neck Institute help. Please call (586) 573-0438 or use our online form to request an appointment at our office in Warren, MI.