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Clinical Investigations: SLEEP AND BREATHING |

The Snoring Spectrum*: Acoustic Assessment of Snoring Sound Intensity in 1,139 Individuals Undergoing Polysomnography

Kent Wilson, MD, MS; Riccardo A. Stoohs, MD; Thomas F. Mulrooney, MD, FCCP; Linda J. Johnson, PhD; Christian Guilleminault, MD; Zhen Huang, MS
Author and Funding Information

*From the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Minnesota (Dr. Wilson), St. Paul, MN; the Dortmund Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Center (Dr. Stoohs), Dortmund, Germany; the HealthEast St. Joseph’s Hospital, Sleep Diagnostic Center (Dr. Mulrooney), St. Paul, MN; the HealthEast Office of Research and Medical Education (Dr. Johnson and Ms. Huang), St. Paul, MN; and the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Center (Drs. Stoohs and Guilleminault), Palo Alto, CA.



Chest. 1999;115(3):762-770. doi:10.1378/chest.115.3.762
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Study objectives: To quantify the snoring sound intensity levels generated by individuals during polysomnographic testing and to examine the relationships between acoustic, polysomnographic, and clinical variables.

Design: The prospective acquisition of acoustic and polysomnographic data with a retrospective medical chart review.

Setting: A sleep laboratory at a primary care hospital.

Participants: All 1,139 of the patients referred to the sleep laboratory for polysomnographic testing from 1980 to 1994.

Interventions: The acoustic measurement of snoring sound intensity during sleep concurrent with polysomnographic testing.

Measurements and results: Four decibel levels were derived from snoring sound intensity recordings. L1, L5, and L10 are measures of the sound pressure measurement in decibels employing the A-weighting network that yields the response of the human ear exceeded, respectively, for 1, 5, and 10% of the test period. The Leq is a measure of the A-weighted average intensity of a fluctuating acoustic signal over the total test period. L10 levels above 55 dBA were exceeded by 12.3% of the patients. The average levels of snoring sound intensity were significantly higher for men than for women. The levels of snoring sound intensity were associated significantly with the following: polysomnographic testing results, including the respiratory disturbance index (RDI), sleep latency, and the percentage of slow-wave sleep; demographic factors, including gender and body mass; and clinical factors, including snoring history, hypersomnolence, and breathing stoppage. Men with a body mass index of > 30 and an average snoring sound intensity of > 38 dBA were 4.1 times more likely to have an RDI of > 10.

Conclusions: Snoring sound intensity levels are related to a number of demographic, clinical, and polysomnographic test results. Snoring sound intensity is closely related to apnea/hypopnea during sleep. The noise generated by snoring can disturb or disrupt a snorer’s sleep, as well as the sleep of a bed partner.

Abbreviations: BMI = body mass index; CI = confidence interval; dB = decibel; dBA = sound pressure measurement in decibels employing the A-weighting network that yields the response of the human ear; L1 = measure of the dBA level exceeded for 1% of the test period; L5 = measure of the dBA level exceeded for 5% of the test period; L10 = measure of the dBA level exceeded for 10% of the test period; Leq = a measurement of the A-weighted average energy of a fluctuating acoustic signal over a specific measurement period; LS = light sleep; MPCA = Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; OSHA = Occupational Safety and Health Administration; RDI = respiratory disturbance index; SWS = slow wave sleep

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