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Earplugs are an easy, affordable, and effective way to block out sounds that could otherwise interfere with your sleep, like traffic noise or your partner’s snoring. Common designs fit inside the ear canal by compressing for insertion and then expanding once in place. Others rest in the outer ear canal.
While there are a variety of different earplugs on the market, shoppers should be aware that not all are designed for sleep. Other earplugs are often intended for situations in which the user is awake, like noisy work environments, concerts, or travel. The level of sound that the earplugs are able to protect against is known as the noise reduction rate (NRR).
Among sleep earplugs, shoppers will have a wide selection of different materials, shapes, price-points, and more. We’ll share our favorite options, explain who they may be best for, and detail other factors you should consider to find the right pair for you.
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Made from flexible silicone, The ZQuiet Earplugs have a three-tier shape that should be both comfortable and functional for many sleepers. The set’s compact design is discreet, low-profile, and easy to use. A small pull-tab attaches to the side of the plug to ensure simple removal.
Wearing the ZQuiet Earplugs can reduce ambient sound, snoring, and other noise by up to 27 dB. In addition to their sonic reduction capsule, the earplugs also feature a chamber that’s designed to equalize pressure.
Two different ear tip sizes are included to help users get the right fit. The pliable silicone and streamlined design should allow stomach, back, and side sleepers to wear them without discomfort. These earplugs can also be used to reduce noise in concert venues, while traveling, or in other loud environments.
ZQuiet’s Earplugs are intended to be hypoallergenic and reusable. Each pair includes a protective storage case as well as a cleaning brush. Customers receive free shipping and a 60-day return window.
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For most sleepers, the Keenhealth Reusable Earplugs’ Tri-Flange design should be flexible enough to fit comfortably and stay put throughout the night.
This umbrella-like shape has three distinct tiers that fit into the ear canal. An attenuating sound filter extends from the base, protecting against sounds over 85 dB while serving as a convenient place to grip. With an NRR of 29 dB, they should also help block out many common bedroom noises, like snoring, and significantly reduce louder noises.
The Keenhealth Reusable Earplugs use hypoallergenic, BPA-free silicone. These earplugs are durable and reusable so that you don’t have to replace them night after night. Simply clean them between uses to help prevent the buildup of bacteria.
Each set comes with two pairs, two cases, and a storage pouch.
Best Active Noise Canceling
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Though they have a higher price-point than many traditional earplugs, some sleepers may find the QuietOn Sleep Earbuds worth the added cost. These earbuds have an active noise-canceling feature that reduces both ambient and snoring sounds.
Background noise is sampled by a microphone, then canceled by a speaker using phase-shifted sound. The earbuds are most effective at canceling low-frequency sounds like snoring and airplane noise. A switch lets users choose between silencing and hearing modes. This feature allows you to activate noise canceling when you need it or turn it off to hear your partner.
They’re small enough to fit in your ears without causing discomfort and the foam tips are moldable. Side, back, and stomach sleepers are all likely to find the QuietOn Earbuds comfortable, thanks to their sleek design. Each set comes with three ear tip sizes and you can purchase additional tips as needed.
The earbuds come with a charging case and cable and are designed to last up to 20 hours on one charge. No smartphone connection is necessary. QuietOn backs its earbuds with a 1-year warranty and 14-day money-back guarantee. International shipping is available.
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Sleepers who want a comfortable and adjustable earplug may find the Eargasm Squishies a suitable option. These earplugs are made from a proprietary silicone material that’s engineered to mold easily to your ear’s shape. These earplugs have an noise reduction rating (NRR) of 22 dB and should help you stay asleep through ambient noise and snoring.
These earplugs are available in one size that can be adjusted. The manufacturer designed them to be larger than the average earplug in order to fit snugly into your ear. Children and those with smaller ear canals can break their Squishies into pieces to get a better fit. Once they’ve conformed to your ears, these earplugs should have an airtight seal.
The Squishies are waterproof, so you can also use them while swimming to ensure water doesn’t enter your ear. Each package includes eight pairs of reusable earplugs and a sealed storage case. Eargasm ships its Squishies to over 50 countries. Shoppers in the U.S. who spend over $65 qualify for free shipping. You can return your items for a refund minus a 20% restocking fee.
Best for Side Sleepers
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Side sleepers often have pressure that builds up around their ears, which can make for an uncomfortable night’s sleep. Wearing earplugs can add to this discomfort for some sleepers. The Hearprotek Interchangeable Tip Earplugs are designed with side sleepers in mind and should offer noise reduction and comfort to those in need.
These earplugs have a unique shape that is engineered to prevent pressure points. Bullet-shaped ear tips connect to the plug’s wing, which fits snugly within your ear’s upper ridge. Each pack has ear wings in small, medium, and large sizes to ensure most sleepers find a good fit. The earplugs come with two different tip materials: memory foam and silicone. The memory foam tips are intended to mold with your body heat while the silicone tips are washable.
The Hearprotek InterchangeableTip Earplugs have an NRR of 33 dB and should help to reduce noise from snoring, flying, or other background sounds. The set is available in white or purple and includes a zippered carrying case. Shoppers are subject to Amazon’s delivery and return policies.
Selecting the right earplugs for sleeping can help improve your rest. However, there is a wide range of options available, so you’ll need to consider a variety of factors to decide which earplugs are best for you. Quality and comfort are particularly important, but other criteria may come into play in your purchasing decision.
We’ll break down the top things shoppers look for when purchasing earplugs for sleeping. On the surface, earplug options may seem quite similar, but focusing more closely on the aspects that set them apart can help you hone in on a pair that suits your needs.
The price-point for a pair of earplugs usually depends on its materials and reusability. If you buy disposable earplugs in bulk, prices start at under 25 cents per pair. Reusable pairs often cost closer to $10 each, though some technologically-advanced, noise-cancelling devices cost over $100.
The best value will depend on your intended usage. If you plan to use earplugs every night and don’t mind cleaning them regularly, reusable earplugs will most likely save you money in the long run. The ongoing monthly cost of disposable earplugs can add up. However, if you plan to only use earplugs occasionally or you don’t want to clean them between uses, disposable options may be a better value.
Reusable vs. Single Use
Some earplugs are intended for single use, while others are built for reusability. Disposable, single-use earplugs usually are composed of less durable materials to make them more affordable. They can be highly convenient, since you throw them away after use rather than cleaning them.
Reusable earplugs use more durable materials engineered to stand up to nightly use. They should be cleaned regularly, which some owners may find inconvenient. However, they produce less waste and may save you money over time.
Earplugs may use a variety of materials, including foam, silicone, wax, and latex. Foam is usually the most common and affordable option. Silicone models generally rest at the entrance of the ear and do not penetrate the ear canal much, if at all. Many people consider wax earplugs among the most effective, but they usually carry a higher price despite the fact that they are intended for single use.
Some earplugs may also contain latex. For most individuals, this shouldn’t be a problem, but those with latex allergies should look at product descriptions carefully to ensure they select a latex-free model.
The level of noise reduction is measured by NRR, or noise reduction rating, which indicates how many decibels (dB) the earplugs are capable of blocking out. Higher numbers indicate more significant potential noise reduction. Earplugs typically have an NRR between 22 dB to 33 dB. Depending on your needs and how loud the noises in your bedroom are, options on either end of this range may be appropriate.
If you plan to wear earplugs while you sleep, comfort is critical. Several factors can contribute to how comfortable earplugs feel to you, including their materials, size, and shape. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to anticipate which earplugs will be most comfortable for you, so finding your ideal pair may be a matter of trial and error.
Experts typically view earplugs as safe when used as directed, but there are some potential risks. Regular use of earplugs could contribute to earwax buildup, which can cause dizziness, tinnitus, itchy ears, and hearing difficulties. Additionally, putting an earplug in too deeply and/or removing it too quickly could also risk damage to the ear canal.
While muffling noise is the goal of wearing earplugs, this can have drawbacks. You may be less likely to awaken to important sounds, like an alarm or a child crying.
To reduce some of the potential risks associated with earplugs, sleepers should follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Maintaining clean hands and ears, carefully inserting and removing the earplugs, and cleaning or disposing of them according to the provided guidelines should help make them safer and more comfortable. However, if you are concerned, have an underlying condition, or experience pain or discomfort, it’s always best to talk to your doctor.
Most experts consider sleeping with earplugs safe, but it does carry potential risks, like earwax buildup, damage to the ear canal, and blocking out important sounds. To minimize risks, follow the instructions that come with the earplugs. Inserting or removing them incorrectly or not following hygiene procedures could lead to issues.
The noise reduction rating (NRR) is a unit of measurement that indicates how many decibels (dB) earplugs and other hearing protection devices can block out when used correctly. A higher NRR indicates a greater potential for noise reduction. Ratings typically range from 22 dB to 33 dB for earplugs.
Correctly worn earplugs should block or significantly reduce the sound of snoring. However, if your partner snores loudly and/or your earplugs have a lower NRR, you may still hear some sounds.
While earplugs are an affordable and effective way to reduce nighttime noise, there are several other options, including headphones, sound apps, white noise machines, fans, and room modifications.
Several sleep headphone designs are available, some of which rest in the ear and others outside. Some sleep masks and pillows have built-in speakers to give sleepers listening options without the use of conventional headphones. Sound apps can be used on your favorite device and/or in conjunction with headphones. They may include music, meditations, nature sounds, sleep stories, and more.
White noise machines produce a consistent background sound that some liken to rushing water or radio static, and this can help drown out other sounds. A fan can have a similar effect.
Finally, room modifications may be useful. Soft materials, like curtains and carpet, can help absorb sound to keep the room quieter. If the noises are coming from outside, soundproof curtains are worth considering.
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