How to Study in Extreme Noisy Environment (+ Math of Decibel System)

[S$54.90][3M][STOCK IN SG] 3M Peltor H10A Optime 105 Earmuff Ear Muff Ear Protection Head Set. Noise Reduction Rating of 30dB


The exams are coming, but your neighbor decides to do a major renovation? Neighbor has loud music blasting/ very noisy children? An urgent and drastic measure must be taken, as scientific research has shown that loud background noises reduce children’s test scores!  Recent research in London (UK) has shown that high levels of environmental noise outside schools reduce children’s scores in standardised nationwide academic tests.

This is hardly surprising, as it is very hard to do any studying in the presence of very loud noises. The source of noises, in Singapore context, may come from the following:

  • Neighbor’s heavy renovation (Drilling, Hammering, etc.) Singaporeans are big fans of renovation and like to renovate their houses every couple of years! Unfortunately, as long as the neighbors stay within the guidelines, there is nothing the neighbors, NEA,  or even the police can do anything about it, even if they renovate their house for over a year.
  • Construction Work from building MRT / roads
  • Neighbor’s dog barking
  • Seventh month Getai / Funeral / Wedding
  • Neighbor’s Karaoke / Disco Music
  • Heavy Traffic from Expressway
  • Frequent Airplane Noises (for those living near airport)
  • Noisy children

Since Singapore is an urban and densely populated country, it would be quite common to have one of the above situations which causes noise pollution.

How to Study in Noisy Places

  1. Sun Tzu’s 36th Strategy says, “If all else fails, retreat.” One obvious way is to avoid the source of noise, by studying in the library. However, if one visits the library after 3pm, one will soon realize it is hard to find a study table due to many students also utilizing the library.
  2. A Chinese Proverb says,  “Fight poison with poison”. Blasting loud music in headphones may help in the short term to distract from the noise, but in the long term may obviously cause ear damage since one is adding more noise to the existing noise.
  3. Note that “getting used to noise” is a terrible myth, there is no such thing as getting used to noise. The only reason people seem to “get used to noise” is because they are becoming deaf! (Source: Medscape: It is important to remember to counsel patients that ears do not get used to loud noise. As the League for the Hard of Hearing notes-they get deaf.)
  4. Use Earmuffs / Earplugs to minimize the noise.

Buy 3M Peltor Earmuffs

Peltor Earmuffs are available on Qoo10 for people who live in Singapore, and also Amazon, for people who live in the USA / worldwide.
Qoo10 (Singapore):

[S$54.90][3M][STOCK IN SG] 3M Peltor H10A Optime 105 Earmuff Ear Muff Ear Protection Head Set. Noise Reduction Rating of 30dB


[S$39.90][3M][STOCK IN SG] 3M Peltor Optime 98 Earmuff Ear muff Ear Plug. Noise Reduction Rating of 25 dB.


[S$17.90][3M][STOCK IN SG] 3M Peltor Tri-Flange Safety Ear Plugs Earplugs – Pack of 3 Ear Plugs with Storage Case. Noise Reduction Rating 26dB


Amazon (Worldwide):

3M Peltor H10A Optime 105 Earmuff

Whether the situation calls for a earmuff / earplug would be up to a case by case basis. However, if one is desperately looking for a earmuff / earplug (not easy to find in Singapore shops), the above 3M Peltor earmuffs would do a good job. Do choose a earmuff / earplug with at least 20dB NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). Any lower wouldn’t be of any help at all.

I personally bought the 3M Peltor 98 earmuffs as my neighbor is doing a very prolonged renovation which is estimated to last till the end of this year. Drilling and even a crane was involved. It managed to cut down the noise to a more manageable level.

Amazon Peltor Earmuff Review:

Pretty Practical Earmuffs
By Nino Brown on January 20, 2008
Verified Purchase

I got them so that I could better focus on work at home – there can be many distracting noises that obstruct serious thought. While they do not cancel everything out – they drastically reduce noise. If someone directly in front of me starts talking to me, I will hear what they are saying, albeit at a reduced noise level. However, when I went into a connected room, and asked my mom and my sister to have a conversation in the room I was initially in, I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

The really bring me a sense of inner peace and centeredness – I can focus on my work without worrying about becoming distracted with random noises in the house. It allows you to get into your own world. I would advise people, however, to notify their house mates when they are going to use them to tune out – it would be horrible if something happened at the other end of the house and one remained unaware because one could not hear the noise.

The Math of Decibel

The decibel is one excellent application of the logarithm.  The formula of the intensity of noise (I) in decibels is:

\boxed{I (dB) = 10\log_{10}\frac{I}{I_0}}, where I_0 is the threshold of hearing, which is the smallest sound a human can hear.


Author: mathtuition88

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