A less than ideal sleeping environment often causes sleep deprivation. If you are a light sleeper then it is important to sleep in a quiet room. However, not everyone is able to create the ideal sleeping environment and if your home is near the street or highway, then you probably spent countless nights tossing and turning in bed!
Earplugs are handy tools that could block out noise, muffling offending sound that could otherwise disrupt sleep. This product comes in a variety of types so it’s important to make an informed decision when shopping around. To help you with your search, here’s an in-depth guide on earplugs plus our recommendations on the best earplugs to get for sleeping:
Table of Contents
- 1 Earplugs By Types
- 2 Factors to Consider Before Buying Earplugs
- 3 Pros of Wearing Earplugs
- 4 Cons of Wearing Earplugs
- 5 The Best Earplugs for Sleeping
- 6 Tips For Blocking Out Annoying Noise in the Bedroom
Earplugs By Types
Although ear plugs offer the same benefits – which is to block outside noise – they come in different types. If you’re shopping around for a great pair of earplugs, here are the most common types you’ll come across with during your search:
Foam earplugs are the most common and widely used types of earplugs. These products are affordable, comfortable and disposable. Foam earplugs are made from soft foam material. They offer moderate noise blocking abilities and they are fairly comfortable to use. If you’re a light sleeper and absolute silence is a must while sleeping, this earplug type is a great choice. They block out sound effectively… but they can be a little too efficient in what they do. Wearing these earplugs may cause you to miss your alarm!
Noise-cancelling earplugs are a step up from plain earplugs. These earplugs are able to block sound efficiently but you don’t have to remove them when you’re talking to someone. Noise-cancelling earplugs won’t cause you to miss your alarm because they only cancel out dangerously loud sources of noises. Of course, noise-cancelling earplugs are pricier than your average foam earplugs.
These products are designed to cancel excessively loud to potentially dangerous sources of sound. Musician earplugs protect the ears from damage during a musical performance. It’s often used by band members, members of the orchestra or DJs. Unlike foam earplugs, musician earplugs do not have an occluding effect, which means you won’t be able to hear yourself speak or sing while wearing these earplugs.
As the name implies, these earplugs are designed specifically to protect a swimmer’s ears from water. When water gets inside the outer and inner ear canal, it can lead to painful ear infections. Typically used by swimmers, these earplugs are also perfect for those who love surfing, sailing, diving, and kayaking!
Nothing like absolute quietness to achieve a blissful sleep. But if your home is prone to distracting noise, then you need earplugs that are designed specifically to provide uninterrupted sleep. These earplugs are made from ultra-soft material so they can be worn for an extended period of time. They are effective in terms of blocking outside noise, around 30 decibels of sound.
Sleeping earplugs are perfect for people who live near roadways or busy streets, new parents who need to sleep but must wake up as soon as the baby cries, and those who work night shifts and need to stay asleep during the day!
Image used under Creative Commons from David Masters
Factors to Consider Before Buying Earplugs
As you can see, earplugs vary in design and function so it’s important to learn more about your needs before making a purchase. If you’re on the hunt for a great pair of earplugs for sleeping, here are some of the factors you need to keep in mind:
Noise Reduction Abilities
High-quality earplugs are able to block between 21 to 33 decibels of noise. Every pack of earplugs features the product’s noise reduction rating or NRR. Don’t pick a pair of earplugs randomly, learn the level of noise you need to block before you go to the local grocery for earplugs. The last thing you want is to purchase an entire bottle of earplugs that aren’t working for your needs!
How often will you use your earplugs? If say, you live near a busy street and you see yourself wearing earplugs often, then go for earplugs with lower NRR. These earplugs are able to cancel out traffic or construction work noise. On the other hand, if you are a musician or your job exposes you to loud noise or music, consider getting earplugs with higher NRR. Silicone earplugs are best if you’re a swimmer or you love the water while foam earplugs are best used to reduce low volume noise.
The cheapest earplugs are made from foam, a soft, pliable material that can be compressed or expanded slightly when plugged into the near canal. They are affordable, effective, and they are sold by the dozen. On the other hand, silicone earplugs are made from a thin rubbery material that conforms to the unique shape of the ear canal, forming a sort of plug that blocks noise. Other earplugs materials available on the market are cotton and plastic.
If you’re after comfort above anything else, opt for cotton earplugs. But if you need maximum protection, go for silicone earplugs. Foam earplugs are widely available and are perfect for those looking for disposable and budget-friendly alternatives to silicone earplugs.
Some earplugs are also custom-made. These products are typically designed for people who are constantly exposed to loud noises because of their professions. Customized earplugs are more expensive because the material is molded to your ear canal shape. However, they will last you a long, long time and they are the best in terms of blocking dangerous noise.
Pros of Wearing Earplugs
Promotes Better Sleep
Sleep deprivation can rob you of energy during the day. It can also affect mental performance, focus, and concentration. If getting a restful sleep is a struggle, wearing earplugs is a quick solution for disrupted slumber. These products reduce sensory stimulation while you’re sleeping, helping you stay asleep all night long. Earplugs work well for people who are light sleepers or jetlagged travelers desperate for sleep.
Protection from Ear Damage
Depending on the type of earplugs you use, these products protect the ears from potentially dangerous noises that cause hearing loss. The fact is, exposure to sustained noise levels that are higher than 85 decibels – or equivalent to the noise that a hair dryer produces at close range – can cause tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Exposure to sustained loud noises can lead to irreparable damage to the inner ear, causing permanent hearing loss. Some of the best earplugs are able to block noise levels of up to 33 decibels so check the label just to make sure you’re getting the right level of protection.
Cons of Wearing Earplugs
Did you know that earwax is being drained from the ears every day? And that using the wrong kind of earplugs affect the way the ears drain earwax? Wearing earwax for an extended period may cause the earwax to become impacted and this may lead to tinnitus, hearing loss, and ear infection. If you’re a frequent earplug user, cleaning your ears regularly to remove wax buildup and prevent impacted earwax. It helps if you replace your earplugs regularly to prevent infection too.
Earplugs are meant to block noise so why is it a con? Because not all types of noise are dangerous, some sounds are meant to alert you, remind you of an important event, or serve as a sign of imminent danger. If say, you have an important meeting tomorrow and you’re wearing noise-cancelling earplugs while you sleep, there’s a good chance that you won’t hear your alarm going off in the morning.
Another example would be wearing earplugs when you’re driving, you won’t be able to hear the car honking behind you. Earplugs should only be used according to their intended purpose. There’s no point wearing a musician’s earplugs when you’re trying to block low-level noise, doing so may put your health or well-being at risk. Never wear earplugs while walking, driving, or riding a bike in a busy street. Unless your job exposes you to dangerous levels of noise, do not wear earplugs in the workplace.
Increased Risk of Ear Infections
Wearing earplugs may put you at risk of developing ear infections. The inner ear canal is teeming with bacteria, some are beneficial microbes, others aren’t. Blocking the ears with earplugs – especially those made with soft foam – may increase the proliferation of bad bacteria, causing painful ear infections.
The Best Earplugs for Sleeping
HEAROS Xtreme Protection Noise Cancelling Foam Earplugs
- Soft and comfortable
- Affordable and economical
- Blocks up to 33 decibels of sound
- Material and design have changed
Hearos’ Xtreme Protection earplugs are made from soft polyurethane foam that conforms to the unique shape of your ears, effectively blocking out noise. A pack contains 14 pairs so for the price, Xtreme Protection is quite a bargain. According to the brand, Xtreme Protection earplugs are made from the highest quality material with a rating of NRR 33. This means Xtreme Protection can block up to 33 decibels of sound. This product can be used to cancel out construction noise, loud and dangerous noise as well as low volume noise.
We love how comfortable the Xtreme Protection earplugs are, the closed cell foam is soft and it doesn’t get dirty too quickly. When inserted into the ear, the earplugs expand to provide a customized fit. The product’s noise cancelling ability is quite impressive. However, the shape is a little bulbous so the earplugs won’t be a great fit for some users. It’s worth noting that we got the “new and improved” version of the Xtreme Protection earplugs. The material is softer than the original and the shape has changed into a cone rather than the usual rounded ends so performance isn’t the same as the well-loved original.
Flents Super Sleep Comfort Foam Earplugs
- Blocks up to 29 decibels of sound
- Comes with a carrying case
- Designed for side sleepers
- Comfortable, ideal for extended use
- Super soft material
- Difficult to insert
- Minor sizing issue
Flents Super Sleep comfort foam earplugs promise to cancel out up to 29 decibels of sound. The earplugs, which are made from soft, dense foam, fit the contours of the ear canal, are especially designed for side sleepers. One bottle contains 10 pairs of earplugs, so for the price, it’s quite a steal. The pack is bundled with a carrying case so you can always take your earplugs with you while you travel, ensuring uninterrupted sleep anytime and anywhere!
If you’re big on comfort, you’ll love the Super Sleep earplugs. The foam is indeed soft, the softest we’ve come across with during testing. They are great for extended use and they’ll never irritate the skin. Because the material is ultra-soft, Flents Super Sleep comfort foam earplugs work great for people who have small ear canals. They are a little hard to insert in the ear but roll each as thinly as you could and they’ll slide in and expand to a perfect fit.
Macks Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs
- Blocks up to 22 decibels of sound
- Made from soft, moldable silicone
- Durable than foam earplugs
- Uncomfortable when used for an extended period
Macks Pillow Soft earplugs are made from moldable silicone. The material is so soft that it fits the contours of the ear canals perfectly, blocking outside noise and annoying street traffic effectively. The earplugs have an NRR rating of 22 decibels. A pack of Macks Pillow Soft earplugs contains 6 pairs so it’s a little on the expensive side but the material is much more durable than traditional foam.
We also loved how versatile these earplugs are. You can use them as sleeping earplugs but they also work as swimmer’s earplugs. Each pack comes with a hard case so you can take your earplugs with you while traveling. Overall, the quality of the earplugs is impressive and they are comfortable. The only drawback is that the material can turn sticky and warm on the ears because it’s silicon. Definitely not a great choice for those who are not used to silicone earplugs.
Flents Quiet Please Foam Ear Plugs
- Blocks up to 29 decibels of noise
- Latex-free foam material
- Non-tapered cylinder design
- Stiff material
Flents Quiet Please earplugs are made from latex-free foam. Because it’s latex-free, these earplugs are perfect for anyone with sensitivity to latex material. Each earplug is dense and a non-tapered design. The texture of the earplugs is soft, almost spongy. Inserting these into the ears is easy and once worn, they can block up to 29 decibels of sound.
Although the Flents Quiet Please earplugs are pricier at more than 12 bucks, a bottle contains 50 pairs so it’s actually cheaper than some of the earplugs on this list. In terms of effectiveness, these earplugs do a great job of blocking unwanted noise, guaranteeing a restful sleep. Our only gripe is the texture of the material, which can be on the stiffer side. We didn’t have any problem inserting the ear plugs in the ears but some may not like the denseness of the foam.
The Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Ear Plugs
- Blocks up to 32 decibels of noise
- High-quality foam material
- Money-back guarantee
- Soft material, ideal for extended use
- Inconsistent performance
Rounding up our list of the best earplugs for sleeping is The Ear Buddy brand of premium soft earplugs. These earplugs are made from foam; they are soft, dense, light and comfortable. The premium soft earplugs promise to block up to 32 decibels of sound and yes, these are quite efficient in terms of protecting the hearing from annoying noises. These work great as sleeping earplugs but they can be used to protect the ears from concert, shooting range, or construction noises.
The material is high in quality and the shape of the earplugs makes insertion easy and painless. Is it worth the 16 bucks price tag? Yes if you’re a light sleeper and you’re committed to getting some sleep and quiet in a noisy neighborhood. The earplugs work great in terms of muffling annoying sounds but some users say that performance on print is inconsistent with their experience. The brand is offering a 60-day money back guarantee so if you’re not satisfied with these babies, you can always get a refund, with no questions asked.
Tips For Blocking Out Annoying Noise in the Bedroom
Trouble sleeping? Did a snoring partner or noisy street traffic leave you tossing and turning in bed all night long? Random and incessant nighttime noises can disrupt sleep and if you’re having trouble getting some shuteye, you need to find ways to block the noise – or at the very least, drown the sound and get some peace and quiet. Here are simple and practical ways to block out annoying nighttime noises:
Rearrange Your Furniture
Did you know that rearranging your furniture helps reduce outside noise? For instance, placing a bookcase against the wall helps minimize noise because it absorbs the sound rather than giving sound waves room to amplify. If your neighbor is too loud, try moving your bedroom away from the wall that separates your room to their room.
Use Acoustic Tiles
Acoustic tiles are made with meant to diffuse sound in certain spots of the home. They come in many sizes, shapes, and colors and we’re sure you’ll find the right design that suits your décor. Simply stick the acoustic tiles on the wall above your bed so any annoying sound will bounce off. You can use double sided tape or wallpaper paste to stick the tiles to place.
Drown Out Noise
White noise helps drown low-level sounds. Your box fan, air conditioner, space heater or electric fan generate a low hum that blocks noise, helping you fall asleep in a jiffy. But if you dislike the hum of an air conditioner or space heater, opt for sound machines to drown out noise. From white noise to the sound of ocean waves, sound machines generate pleasing sounds that will lull you to sleep and block honking horns or sirens.
You can use rugs and carpets to reduce sound in the home. Thick area rugs and carpets help muff sounds that come from below. You can also insert insulation below the baseboards to block out noise from the neighbors below. Of course, installing insulation isn’t as simple as it seems so leave the installation to the professionals.
Drapes and Curtains
Drapes and curtains are so versatile; they improve the aesthetic of a space while also improving the insulation and diffuse annoying neighborhood sounds. Use thick curtains and drapes because they work well in terms of buffering noise.
Seal All Gaps
Hidden gaps in the window and doors let annoying neighborhood sounds in so get a sealant and start filling out these gaps. If you cannot find a great sealant from your local hardware store, foam makes a great alternative. Just compress the foam and insert it in every gap to soundproof the bedroom!
Wearing earplugs could be the key to eliminating annoying nighttime sounds that disrupt sleep. Of course, wearing earplugs have its fair share of advantages and disadvantages so make sure you’re making an informed decision before you get a pair for yourself. Our advice is to compare different products side by side, determine your needs, and look for the right materials that work for you.