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Using earplugs for sleeping is a cheap, easy, and effective way of blocking out loud sounds, such as a snoring partner or noisy neighbors, so you can get a good night’s rest. Made from foam, silicone, or wax, earplugs are designed to fit into your ear to create a barrier against noise. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit virtually any ear canal. Studies have shown that earplugs can help you sleep better.
The earplugs listed below are some of the best earplugs for sleeping available on the market today. They are comfortable and fit a variety of body shapes, although each individual will have their own preferences. All of the earplugs in this list are made in the U.S. and have a noise reduction rating (NRR) of at least 32 decibels (dB).
Our Top Picks
|Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs||Can be worn under headphones, subtle beige color, soft foam, inexpensive||See Best Price|
|Quiet Contour Ear Plugs||Flared tail for easy removal, contoured shape prevents falling out, bright green makes them easy to find||See Best Price|
|Ear Plugs||Can be used for swimming, all-natural ingredients, 30-day return policy, mold to any shape of ear canal||See Best Price|
|Soft Foam Ear Plugs||Latex- and PVC-free, long earplugs — great for larger ear canals, tapered shape that stays in place, soft & light, non-irritating foam||See Best Price|
|Laser Lite Foam Earplugs||Fun bright colors, soft, non-irritating foam, flared base, BPA-free||See Best Price|
Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs
Why we like it:
- Low-key beige color
- Can be worn with headphones
- Soft, comfortable low-pressure foam with smooth finish
- Good value for money
Mack’s has been in the earplug business for over 50 years, with many satisfied customers. Their Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs are made from Comfy Cush™ Comfort Foam, a soft, low-pressure urethane foam that expands to fit the ear canal. These one-size-fits-all earplugs are tapered for a better fit and feature a smooth finish that helps them easily slip into your ears. They work best for small and average-sized ear canals.
Unlike many foam earplugs, Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs are a low-key beige color that is are subtle. They come in a sealed plastic jar for easy storage. These earplugs have an NRR of 32 dB. It’s possible to wear headphones or a helmet over them. In addition to sleeping, they can also be worn for concerts, shooting, using power tools, and even on a plane. These are great for side sleepers, as the foam is soft and doesn’t press uncomfortably against the ear canal.
Flents Quiet Contour Ear Plugs
Why we like it:
- Flared tail for easy removal
- Safe for airplanes
- Easy-to-find bright green color
- Contoured shape fits ear canal well
Flents Quiet Contour Ear Plugs feature a unique curved shape with a narrow waist which mimics the shape of your ear canal for a perfect fit. They stay in place and don’t fall out, although thanks to the flared tail they’re easy to remove. Flents Quiet Contour Ear Plugs can be comfortably used by side sleepers.
The foam is manufactured by Moldex and is slightly less dense than other Flents models.
Flents Quiet Contour Ear Plugs can also be used as noise protection against construction, music, shooting, and on an airplane. They come in a jar that protects against dust but they are not individually wrapped, which eco-conscious customers will appreciate. These earplugs have an NRR of 33 dB.
Mighty Plugs Ear Plugs
Why we like it:
- 100% waterproof; can be used for swimming
- Made from all-natural ingredients
- Excellent longevity
- 30-day return policy
Mighty Plugs Ear Plugs are made from soft beeswax that molds perfectly to your ear, no matter the size or shape. They can be cut in half if they’re too big, or combined to make them bigger.
The wax sticks to your skin and stays in place, although it may leave some blue residue that will come off with warm water. There’s a learning curve for learning how to use these, and side sleepers might experience some pressure the first few times they sleep with them. However, it’s worth it for those people who are unable to find comfortable foam earplugs. Many people swear by their ability to contour perfectly to the ear canal.
These earplugs are made of hypoallergenic natural beeswax, sterile cotton, and purified lanolin, with a vegetable-based food coloring dye. They contain no chemicals, foam, or silicone. As long as they’re kept clean, Mighty Plugs Ear Plugs can be used for an average of 1-2 months and even up to a year in some cases.
Mighty Plugs Ear Plugs have an NRR of 34 dB, making them one of the best earplugs for sleeping with a snorer or in other noisy environments. As they form a complete seal, they have the added advantage of being 100% waterproof and can also be used for swimming.
Moldex Soft Foam Ear Plugs
Why we like it:
- Ideal for larger ear canals
- Latex- and PVC-free
- Soft, light foam that won’t irritate skin
- Stay in place without falling out
Moldex Soft Foam Ear Plugs are a joint venture from Drift to Sleep and Moldex. They feature a tapered shape and a soft, light foam with a non-irritating surface. These earplugs are fairly long, making them optimal for users with larger ear canals. Side sleepers have used them successfully without experiencing undue pressure on the ears.
For people who manage to get them in properly, Moldex Soft Foam Ear Plugs fit excellently and don’t fall out. Many people who suffer from itchy ears with other earplugs will find this brand to be superior. Moldex Soft Foam Ear Plugs are sold with a carrying case and are latex- and PVC-free. They have an NRR of 33 dB and are suitable to be used for sleeping, travel, shooting, concerts, and other places where you risk harmful sound exposure.
Howard Leight Laser Lite Foam Earplugs
Why we like it:
- Bright colors, easy to find
- Made of non-irritating polyurethane foam
- Soft and comfortable; expand to fit most ear canals
- Flared base for easy removal
Howard Leight Laser Lite Foam Earplugs are psychedelic earplugs in bright magenta and yellow, which is not exactly subtle but sure does make them easy to find! Thanks to their contoured T-shape with the flared base, they are simple to put in and take out. Although they’re relatively small, the low-pressure polyurethane foam does a good job of expanding to fit various sizes of ear canals. This closed-cell foam is also smooth and dirt-resistant, and won’t irritate your ears.
Howard Leight Laser Lite Foam Earplugs work well for side sleepers. Aside from sleeping, they can also be used while riding motorcycles, mowing the lawn, or in other noisy environments. Howard Leight Laser Lite Foam Earplugs are BPA-free and FDA-approved and come conveniently packaged in a plastic jar. They have an NRR of 32 dB.
Earplug Buyer’s Guide
Choosing earplugs that block sound effectively is only the beginning. Earplugs work by physically blocking sound waves from entering through your ear canal. Ill-fitting earplugs won’t provide an effective barrier against sound, and they may be uncomfortable.
In this section, we’ll run through materials, size, portability, durability, and other factors to take into account when buying earplugs. Lastly, we’ll cover the benefits and risks of using earplugs.
The best earplugs for sleeping will be comfortable and block noise effectively. Side sleepers especially will prefer earplugs that don’t put pressure on the pillow. Everyone’s ears are shaped differently, so it’s worth trying out several types to find exactly the right kind of earplugs for your ears. Here are some things to consider when buying earplugs for sleeping.
- Effectiveness: Earplugs are classed according to their noise reduction rating (NRR), which indicates how many decibels of sound they block out when used perfectly. Generally, the highest NRR you’ll see on noise-canceling earplugs for sleeping is 34 dB. The higher the NRR, the better job the earplugs do of blocking out noise.
- Comfort: Be on the lookout for materials you might be allergic to, as these can cause irritated ears. It also helps to keep in mind that many people don’t put foam earplugs in correctly, leading to frustration and thinking the earplug doesn’t fit your ear. Ease of use may be a factor in choosing earplugs.
- Size: While you want a snug fit, earplugs that are too big or don’t conform well to the curves of your ear canal can fall out overnight or cause pain. Likewise, earplugs that are too small won’t do a good job of blocking out sound. There are a variety of earplugs available for small, large, short, deep, wide, and narrow ear canals, so hunt around for one that fits you perfectly. Foam earplugs are usually one-size-fits-all. In contrast, wax and soft silicone earplugs can be molded to specific shapes and sizes.
- Number of Uses: Most foam earplugs are meant for one use only, although many people use them several times. In contrast, certain types of wax and silicone earplugs can be used for over a month if they’re properly cleaned and stored. Reusable earplugs come at a higher price point. If your ears produce a lot of wax, you may prefer disposable earplugs.
- Travel-friendly: Some considerations when choosing earplugs for travel include the carrying case (for keeping them clean), color (so you don’t lose them), and whether the earplugs are suitable for use on an airplane.
Types of Earplugs
Earplugs can be made of foam, silicone, or wax. Each of these materials offers different advantages depending on what you’re looking for.
Foam earplugs are the most common. They are usually meant for a single use (although some people use them several times), and usually cost less than a dollar per pair. Foam earplugs are usually soft and cylindrical, sometimes with one end slightly narrower. When rolled up and inserted in the ear, they expand to fill the space. Types of foam earplugs include high-density (HD) foam and memory foam.
Silicone earplugs come in two shapes. Soft silicone putty earplugs can be molded to the entrance of the ear canal. In general, they don’t block out as much noise as foam earplugs, but they can be used for swimming as well as sleeping. In contrast, flared and cone-shaped hard silicone earplugs often have an NRR equal to foam earplugs. They are more expensive and made to last a few months. Side sleepers may find that the stem pokes into the pillow and causes pressure on the ear while sleeping.
Wax earplugs mold to ear canals of every shape and size, making it virtually impossible to have pressure points. They are significantly more expensive than foam earplugs, but they last much longer and do a great job of blocking out sound. The wax can be synthetic or natural, as with beeswax. Wax earplugs are also waterproof and suitable for swimming.
Benefits of Using Earplugs
The perfect pair of earplugs can help you wake up feeling refreshed and revitalized instead of tired and grumpy. Here are some of the reasons earplugs are such a great option for blocking out sound.
- Cheap and convenient: Good-quality sleep has been associated with a host of benefits. Whether it’s your partner’s snoring, the construction on the house next door, your neighbor’s piano, or a barking dog, earplugs are one of the easiest and most affordable ways to help protect against noise so you can get a good night’s sleep.
- Sleep anytime, anywhere: Since earplugs are small and portable, they can help not only for sleeping in bed, but also for sleeping on the go – in trains, planes, buses, hotels with thin walls, or any other noisy places. Shift workers who need to sleep during the day can also benefit from using earplugs.
- Few, if any, side effects: Unlike habit forming sleeping pills, earplugs usually have zero side effects.
- Protect your hearing: Exposure to dangerous noise levels can cause permanent damage to your hearing. Earplugs can be worn in loud environments to help protect against long-term hearing loss or tinnitus.
- Prevent swimmer’s ear: Waterproof earplugs can be a lifesaver for people who get water trapped in their ears.
Drawbacks and Risks of Using Earplugs
Despite the benefits, earplugs have certain risks that you should consider before using them. It’s generally recommended to use them only when necessary.
- Earwax Impaction: Your ears produce earwax to protect against dirt and bacteria. Normally, earwax drains out of your ear canal on an ongoing basis. But earplugs block the entrance to your ears, which can cause the earwax to build up inside your ear. Side effects of earwax impaction can include hearing loss, tinnitus, and even ear infections. Minimize your chances of earwax impaction by cleaning your ears and earplugs well, and replacing your earplugs as instructed by the manufacturer.
- Ear infections: You’re most likely to suffer ear infections from earplugs if you don’t keep your earplugs clean. Since you’re inserting them into your ear, you want to make sure they’re devoid of bacteria. This problem is most common with foam earplugs, which is why manufacturers recommend against reusing them.
- Allergic reactions: It goes without saying that you shouldn’t use earplugs if you know you’re allergic to the materials in them! If your skin gets irritated from using earplugs, discontinue use immediately.