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Home / Best Earplugs for Sleep

Best Earplugs for Sleep

Lauren Fountain

Written by

Lauren Fountain, Certified Sleep Coach

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We’ve recently updated our list to include the Swanwick Earplugs as our best value pick. The ZQuiet Earplugs remain our best overall pick.

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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.

Top Picks Overview

Swanwick Earplugs

Best Value

Swanwick Earplugs

SHOP NOW
Eargasm Squishies

Best Design

Eargasm Squishies

SHOP NOW
SoundOff Noise Masking Earbuds

Most Comfortable

SoundOff Noise Masking Earbuds

SHOP NOW

Product Details

ZQuiet Earplugs

Best Overall

ZQuiet Earplugs

ZQuiet Earplugs
Price: $35
Noise Reduction Rate: 27 dB
Who it's best for:
  • Side, back, and stomach sleepers
  • Shoppers who want a low-profile option
  • Those needing reusable earplugs
Highlights:
  • Flexible silicone minimizes pressure
  • Includes two ear tip sizes
  • Discreet design with release tab
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on ZQuiet products

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.

Swanwick Earplugs

Best Value

Swanwick Earplugs

Swanwick Earplugs
Price: $20
Noise Reduction Rate: N/A
Who it's best for:
  • Value seekers
  • Sleepers seeking highly comfortable earplugs
  • People who need reusable earplugs
Highlights:
  • Soft silicone design molds to your ear
  • Includes three sets of earbuds
  • 30-night sleep trial
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Swanwick products

Sleepers looking for an earplug multi-pack at an approachable price-point should look no further than the Swanwick Earplugs. These reusable earplugs are made from a flexible silicone design to mold to your ear for optimal comfort.

Thanks to the oversized design, the earplugs fit snugly in the ear without falling out. The silicone is exceptionally soft, so they should not hurt your ears even with nightly use. You can also use them in other environments like concerts to reduce any uncomfortable noise. The silicone is non-porous, making them extremely easy to clean.

Purchases come with a carrying case that comes with a total of six earplugs. Swanwick offers a 30-night trial to test the earplugs and return them for a refund, and they’ll even include a prepaid return label.

Eargasm Squishies

Best Design

Eargasm Squishies

Eargasm Squishies
Price: $20
Noise Reduction Rate: 22 dB
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who want earplugs designed for comfort
  • People with large ear canals
  • Value seekers
Highlights:
  • Silicone material is highly moldable
  • Multi-use with an airtight seal
  • Designed to fit children and adults
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Eargasm products

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.

QuietOn 3 sleep earbuds

Best Active Noise Canceling

QuietOn 3 sleep earbuds

QuietOn 3 sleep earbuds
Price: $269
Noise Reduction Rate: 25-40 dB
Who it's best for:
  • Shoppers looking for multi-use earbuds
  • Sleepers who want a high-performance design
  • Back, stomach, and side sleepers
Highlights:
  • Actively cancels noise
  • Lasts up to 28 hours per charge
  • Users can switch between modes
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on QuietOn products

Though they have a higher price-point than many traditional earplugs, some sleepers may find the QuietOn 3lseep earbuds worth the added cost. The 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 earbuds comfortable thanks to their sleek design. Each set comes with four 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 28 hours on one charge. No smartphone connection is necessary. QuietOn backs its earbuds with a 1-year warranty and 30-day money-back guarantee. International shipping is available.

SoundOff Noise Masking Earbuds

Most Comfortable

SoundOff Noise Masking Earbuds

SoundOff Noise Masking Earbuds
Price: $180
Noise Reduction Rate: N/A
Who it's best for:
  • People who reside in noisy neighborhoods
  • Sleepers who don’t like the sound of white noise
  • Those who are easily distracted while working in an office
Highlights:
  • High-frequency pink noise can mask other sounds and help you sleep
  • Eight volume levels
  • Up to 16 hours of battery life
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on SoundOff products

The SoundOff Noise Masking Earbuds play non-looping pink noise intended to help you sleep. Many equate the term “white noise” with any static-heavy ambient sound, but there are actually several “colors” of noise. White noise is simply a combination of sounds with different frequencies at the same intensity level. Those who find white noise jarring or unpleasant should consider pink noise, which features all the elements of white noise minus the high-frequency signals. The result is a more soothing ambient sound many people liken to steady rainfall or lapping waves.

Both earbuds are lightweight and shaped to fit over your ears, so even side sleepers should feel comfortable. You can choose from eight volume levels depending on your personal preferences and the amount of noise outside your home at night. Each purchase includes a handy carrying case, making the earbuds travel-friendly. When fully charged, the battery lasts between 10 and 16 hours – though you should charge the earbuds each morning to ensure full usage throughout the night.

The SoundOff Noise Masking Earbuds are practical for daily use as well, especially if you need to work or study in a loud environment. All orders include a 30-day trial with full refunds for dissatisfied customers. Those who keep their earbuds beyond the trial period also receive a 1-year warranty against structural defects.

How to Choose Earplugs for Sleeping


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.

What to Consider When Purchasing Earplugs for Sleep

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.

Price
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.

Materials
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.

Noise Reduction
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.

Comfort
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.

Is it Safe to Sleep with Earplugs?

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sleeping with Earplugs

Is it bad to sleep with earplugs every night?

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.

What is “noise reduction rating,” or NRR?

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.

Do earplugs block the sound of snoring?

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.

What else can I do to reduce nighttime noise?

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.

Still have questions?

Our product experts have extensive experience testing just about every sleep product on the market. Send an email to [email protected] or call us at (877) 672-8966 with your questions and we’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

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About Our Editorial Team

author
Lauren Fountain

Certified Sleep Coach

Lauren is a Certified Sleep Science Coach with extensive experience researching and testing a wide variety of sleep products.