In my experience, a good white noise machine can completely drown out moderate but not loud snoring from a partner sleeping next to you.
It tends to work well against snoring coming from a distance (e.g., snoring roommate, snoring neighbor, or snoring dog).
For loud snoring, a white noise machine can still help you to stay asleep because it makes snoring less startling, but you will have to bear with snoring peaks while falling asleep.
In this post I’d like to offer guidance on:
- Determining if you have a good chance against “your snorer” with a white noise machine
- Which machine I would get and how to set it up
- Other people’s experiences
How loud of a snorer can a white noise machine handle?
To drown out snoring noise, your white noise machine needs to be louder than the snorer (at the place where your head comes to rest) and the white noise frequency spectrum (pitch) needs to resemble the snoring noise.
I’d like to make this specific.
Suppose you place the white noise machine on your nightstand and turn away from your snoring partner.
(I know this doesn’t sound very romantic but it beats not being able to sleep.)
If possible at all, you should be closer to the white noise machine than you are to the snorer.
To be able to completely (or almost completely) drown out snoring, the snoring peaks should not be much louder than 65 decibels (dbA) at the place where your head comes to rest.
(I will describe in a minute how you can measure that.)
Even if the white noise pitch closely matches the snoring noise, you will have to set your white noise machine louder than the snoring.
With snoring peaks of 65 dB, you’ll need to play white noise at about 72-75 dB to mask them.
That’s close to the limit of many white noise machines and close to the limit of what I would be able to tolerate.
If I can help it, I don’t want to listen to anything blasting at 72 dB (ear position) while trying to fall asleep, so I wear foam earplugs when I have to play white noise that loud.
I recommend that you and your partner do the same.
I have, however, read that some people sleep with their white noise machine running at full throttle without earplugs just to eliminate snoring.
How do you find out how loud the snoring noise is?
You can measure it with your phone.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, download the NIOSH sound level meter app.
For my Android phone, the app that got closest to the NIOSH app (running on my iPad) was Sound Meter by ABC apps.
Note: Unlike with iPhones, the audio hardware and accuracy among Android phones varies widely. I recommend using an iPhone/iPad for measuring noise if possible.
Put yourself in your usual sleeping position and measure the snoring noise level as follows:
Start the app and observe the Instantaneous Level for a minute or so.
Is it below 65 dB when the snoring is loudest?
If you find it hard to keep track of the instantaneous level, the NIOSH app can also determine the maximum during your measuring period.
- Make sure to hold your phone steady without tapping it or creating noise yourself.
- Press the Start button and let the app measure for perhaps a minute while the snoring is loud.
- Press Pause.
The value Lmax shouldn’t exceed 65 decibels, or at least not by much (Ignore LCpeak for this purpose).
If the snoring is much louder than this, I would look into other snore blocking solutions.
Note: I prefer following the Instantaneous Level as sometimes Lmax gets pushed up by other noises.
Which white noise machine to get and how to set it up?
I use the Lectrofan Classic for masking a large variety of noises and that’s what I would get.
This white noise machine goes loud and offers 10 different pitched white noises.
(Please also read my review comparing the Lectrofan Classic and the EVO for why I like this machine.)
Place it close to the person who needs relief from their snoring spouse, roommate, dog, etc.
I would put it on my nightstand; some people put it on their headboard.
For snoring noise, I have found good success with white noises #3 and #4.
Feel free to experiment. Set the machine to a volume you are comfortable with and cycle through the 10 white noises (starting with the lowest pitched noise) until you feel you have found the one that masks the snoring best.
Next increase the volume so that the white noise covers the snoring noise.
If it gets too loud for you or your partner, consider wearing foam earplugs to reduce the overall noise level.
I know of some people who just get used to a loud white noise volume (even max volume) and liken it to sleeping on a plane, but I would avoid that if you can.
What I learned reading 200 white noise machine reviews that contained “snoring”
Out of the more than 7000 reviews of the popular Lectrofan Classic, 220 contained the keyword “snoring.”
The majority of these 220 reviewers wanted to use the white noise machine to drown out their partner’s snoring and not surprisingly, it was mostly the husband that was being implicated.
Getting relief from their dog’s snoring was the second most popular use case, followed by a snoring neighbor or person in an adjacent room.
What surprised me was that out of 110 with a snoring partner, 100 got relief and only 10 said it didn’t work.
In fact, 11 of the success stories mentioned that their partner snored really loud, “like a bear,” “a freight train,” or “a saw mill.”
Here are the numbers:
How does this fit in with my own results and measurements?
I have come to the conclusion that the majority of people that posted a review likely experienced what I call moderate snoring.
Nevertheless, to them it was loud.
Moreover, some people explicitly stated that they ran the white noise machine at maximum volume, so they might indeed have been able to drown out louder snoring.
I also think it is likely that many people who found the machine helped only somewhat with snoring but liked it in general, didn’t post a review.
Why do the numbers not add up to 220?
I did not include generic reviews where people just said the machine was good against snoring but I couldn’t determine what the person had experienced or what they needed relief against. The vast majority of those reviews were positive anyway.
So in conclusion:
According to the reviews, the white noise machine was effective in most cases where someone wanted relief from a snoring partner, and in all cases when the dog, roommate, or neighbor was doing the snoring.
Where did people place their white noise machine?
- Own nightstand
- On the headboard right above the person who needed relief
- One near the head & one at the bed’s foot end
- Nightstand of the snorer
- Two white noise machines
- Husband’s side of the bed
Which sound did people choose to mask snoring?
- Lower tone that matches the snore sound
- Match the octave of the husband’s snoring
- Lower brown noise best
- White noise #1 (my remark: that is dark brown noise)
- Low hum
- Fan sound
- Low fan sound
- Matched white noise tone the be around the same pitch as the snoring
How loud did they set their machine?
- Some very soft
- Quite loud
- “I just turn up the Lectrofan a bit”
- “I use it on the loudest available volume.”
A good white noise machine like the Lectrofan Classic can completely mask moderate snoring noise with a sound level of up to about 65 decibels.
The Lectrofan could be set even louder than the roughly 72 dB necessary to accomplish this, and you could employ your home audio system to play still louder white noise, but I would have a hard time tolerating the ensuing noise level.
A white noise machine can, however, still be of help against snoring louder than 65 dB because it reduces the difference between background noise (your bedroom without snoring) and startling snoring noise, giving you a much better chance to stay asleep.
In that case, you would hear some snoring while falling asleep or you would have to go to bed earlier than your partner.
The advantage over headphones and sleep headphones playing white noise is that you don’t need to wear anything over your ears.
I still recommend wearing earplugs to reduce the overall noise level in your room.
If you need to block loud snoring noise or are looking for a different solution, please also check my post How to Block Out Snoring Noise, Even Obnoxiously Loud Snoring.