Silence may be golden, but that doesn’t stop noise from existing in your world. If you’ve ever dealt with excessive ambient noise, you’ve probably started to wonder whether it’s possible to block out sound completely.
Unfortunately for those of you who suffer from a noise problem, completely soundproof ear plugs do not exist. Short of removing your hearing entirely, there’s no simple way to stop sound from reaching your eardrum. This is due to the way sound is transmitted, both through the air in your ear canal and through the bones in your head.
Whilst blocking the transmission of sound through the air will block most sound, it will not block all of it. In fact, the balance of air conduction and bone conduction in sound is the reason that your voice sounds different when played back from a recording.
What Can be Done?
Since a completely soundproof option is off the table, what can you do to minimize noise? Well, just because there’s no perfect solution does not mean there are no good solutions on the market at all. In fact, there are many off-the-shelf options that will help nullify even the loudest snorers.
High-NRR Ear Plugs
Thanks to the snug fit offered by ear plugs, they are capable of delivering a NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) higher than many earmuffs (see a comparison of ear plugs and ear defenders here).
The highest attenuation rating you’re likely to be able to get in an ear plug is 39dB. To put that in perspective, that would theoretically reduce the sound of a vacuum cleaner to roughly the volume of somebody whispering loudly (see a noise level chart here).
White Noise Machines
White noise machines produce a sound that is essentially just random static that sounds almost like the wind or a waterfall. Whilst it won’t eliminate annoying sounds, it will mask them and help you to sleep.
Combined with a pair of comfortable ear plugs, you may find that a white noise machine is the best way to block out the loud noises preventing you from getting proper sleep.
White noise machines and other sound-masking technologies are a highly effective way to deal with the kind of sudden noises that will wake you from your sleep. Your brain should easily filter out the sound of white noise, meaning that the volume of the white noise won’t keep you awake. But even though your brain might filter the white noise, it will still mask any sudden noises that might interrupt your sleep.
If noise is an issue in your life, you may find yourself wishing for a way to block out sound completely. Unfortunately, no such product exists at the moment. However, if you’re looking to sleep more soundly, then a combination of noise masking and passive noise reduction offers the best solution.
White noise machines will mask sudden or inconsistent noises that will make it hard to sleep, and ear plugs will attenuate all noise. When combined, they can make sure you get a great night’s sleep. See some of the best ear plugs for noise reduction here.