Earplugs can be the ultimate sleep tool, even though many people don’t think of them that way. Many associate earplugs with something you wear when you’re using power tools, going to a concert, or when your neighbors are throwing a party when you’re trying to study. However, they can help you sleep, too.

Why Sleep in Earplugs?

Sleep hygiene is the practice of making yourself and your environment ready to sleep. When you clean up your sleep hygiene, you get rid of things that keep you awake or help you procrastinate your sleep, and instead you implement practices that are more conducive to rest. Part of practicing good sleep hygiene is to have your room as silent as possible.

There are many ways to achieve a quieter room. You can turn off things that might keep you awake, like the television. You can ask your neighbors to abide by curfew laws and keep it down later in the evening. You can even install curtains designed to block noise and white noise machines designed to balance it out.

One of the best, and easiest, ways to get the quiet sleep you need is to sleep with earplugs. They are most useful when there’s not another good way to make your room quiet. Maybe your partner needs the TV on to rest, your neighbors refuse to be quiet, or you stir at the slightest noise. In these cases, earplugs can be the only way to get the rest you need.

Earplugs can also help you deal with a partner’s snoring. While it’s important that they see a doctor to eliminate any medical issues, it may just be something you have to deal with. Since you probably don’t want to kick your partner to the curb just because their snoring wakes you and keeps you up, earplugs offer a great way to keep the peace in your relationship.

What to Consider When Buying Earplugs

There are several important considerations to keep in mind when you’re choosing your earplugs. We’ve taken all of these into account during our evaluation process, and you’ll need to understand them to make your choice, too.

Material

Earplugs are made out of different kinds of foam, latex, plastic, and silicone. Some are even made out of wax. It’s important to choose a material that you’re not allergic to, so you don’t have a reaction when you put them in your ears. You may want to experiment to find the material that you like best.

Fit

Different earplugs expand to different sizes. While most of them can be used in most ear canals, you’ll need to make sure that the ones you choose aren’t too big or too small for you. If they’re too big in comparison to your ear canals, they can cause pain and even damage. If they’re too small, they won’t sufficiently block noise as they should.

You also need to check the length of the earplug against your ear canal. If they stick out too far, they will be uncomfortable for sleep. If they are too short, they won’t block noise well and you may have a tendency to stick them too far down your ear canal.

Noise Blocking Capacity

Most earplugs will note their noise blocking capacity or protection level on the outside of the container. This is known as the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). The best earplugs for sleep will have a rating of at least 30 NRR. Any lower than this and they won’t block all of the sounds that you require to get a good night’s sleep.

Comfort

This is hard category to judge, simply because what’s comfortable for one person may not be comfortable for another. You want your earplugs to not only feel good when you put them in, but to continue to feel good when you wake up, too. You also don’t want them to cause you wake up. Finally, they need to be comfortable when you lay on your side with them in. Some people find that earplugs feel fine until they lie on their ear, and suddenly they’re no longer pleasant.

Ease of Use

Many earplugs simply require you to roll them between your fingers, then insert them into your ear. Wax ones usually require more rolling, as the wax needs to soften significantly to be the right shape to wear. Some need to be cleaned after use, while you can simply throw others away.

Reusability

Some earplugs are designed to be worn once, then thrown away. Others will last for a few nights, while others are designed to be reused long-term. If sustainability is important for your, find earplugs that can be reused. If you’re grossed out by the thought of washing your ear wax off your earplugs, get some that you throw away more often.

Types of Earplugs

There are several different types of earplugs commonly used for sleep. Below is a rundown on each type, including their benefits and drawbacks.

These are the most common type of disposable earplugs on the market today. They are made of a soft, shaped, moldable foam. To wear them, you simply roll the foam between your fingers, then insert the plug into your ear. The foam expands relatively rapidly, filling your ear canal.

Pros:

  • Comfortable for almost everyone
  • Inexpensive
  • Can be reused for quite a while before losing their shape and noise-blocking ability
  • Tend to have higher noise-cancelling ratings (NRR)
  • Easy to clean
  • Great for small ear canals
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Must eventually be thrown away
  • Can exert too much pressure on some ear canals causing pain and discomfort
  • Not always the best for longer ear canals
  • You may need to try multiple types to find the right width and length for your ear canal
  • The foam can rip, making it harder to get out of your ear

Regular foam earplugs are usually cylindrical in shape. To insert them, you roll the earplug down to about half its normal size, then insert it into your ear. The foam in these is more porous and less adaptable than a molded foam earplug. As well, most users find them stiffer than other types of earplugs.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • The foam reshapes itself slowly, giving you plenty of time to get it in your ear the way you like it
  • Very soft feel in the ear
  • Foam protects against humidity and moisture buildup inside the ear
  • Easily fits all the way inside most ear canals

Cons:

  • Must be thrown away after 1-2 nights
  • Can be difficult to insert into the ear due to cylindrical shape
  • Fall out easily if not inserted properly
  • You must hold them in your ear while they reshape, or they will move and/or fall out
  • Do not block as much noise as other types of earplugs

These are similar to the earplugs traditionally used for swimmers ear. They come as lumps of wax and you hold them in your hand to warm them, then shape them so they will fit into your ear. When they go in, they create a seal, keeping out sound, moisture, and anything else that might end up in your ear.

Pros:

  • Most people find them extremely comfortable
  • Almost invisible when they're in your ear
  • Ready for use immediately – you don't have to wait for them to expand or reshape
  • Inexpensive
  • Allergy-free

Cons:

  • Can only be used once, since there is no way to clean wax earplugs
  • Removing the earplug too fast can damage the eardrum
  • Wax isn't suitable for dirty environments (like camping) or overly warm places
  • Can leave grease on your pillow overnight
  • Stick to your fingers, making insertion difficult

These earplugs are designed for longer-term use, and they cost more, too. They are generally easy to insert, though you may have to follow the manufacturer's process to shape them to your ear canal before they will reach maximum effectiveness. You usually have to clean plastic or silicone earplugs every day.

Pros:

  • Long-lasting
  • Can often be molded specifically to your ear canals
  • Ultimate noise blockage
  • Can ensure they are hypoallergenic before you buy them

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Molding process takes time and intentionality
  • More difficult to replace if one gets lost
  • Not always as comfortable as other types of earplugs
  • Often stick out of the ear, making it uncomfortable for some side sleepers

Our Top Earplugs for Sleeping

Without further ado, here are our top choices for earplugs to sleep in:

Amazker Anti-Noise Earplugs

These amazing foam earplugs block noise up to 35 NRR, making them some of the best noise-blockers on the market. They are non-toxic, slow to reshape, and can last up to 15 days. They even come with their own aluminum carrying case for your keychain, so you’re never without a pair.

Wearers laud these as some of the most comfortable earplugs around. With them in, the only danger is that you won’t hear your alarm!

The Amazker earplugs are comfortable, too. Made of premium non-toxic foam, they won’t contribute to pollution when you’re ready to throw them away. They’re also a bright yellow-green, making them easy to find in your purse, in your bed, or when they fall on the floor. People with different size, shape, and length ear canals all agree that these are some of the best sleeping earplugs they’ve tried.

Where to Buy: Amazon

Amazon Customer Ratings: 4.4 out of 5 stars, from 233 verified buyers

Price: $19.59


3M Classic Earplugs

Why change what works? When most people think of earplugs, these are what come to mind first. While they don’t block as much noise as other types, wearers say that they block plenty to make sleep easy without the risk of missing your alarm in the morning.

These recover slowly in your ear, offering plenty of time to situate them. They exert a lower amount of pressure on the ear than some other types, making them more tolerable to people whose ear canals are sensitive.

The 3M classic earplugs will protect your hearing, protect your sleep, and won’t annoy you while they’re at it. If you don’t wear earplugs every night, these may be perfect for you. Consumers like that these are an inexpensive solution for one-off usage.

Where to Buy: Amazon

Amazon Customer Ratings: 4.7 out of 5 stars, from 371 verified buyers

Price: $29.17


High Fidelity Reusable Earplugs

These silicone earplugs cancel out the noise around you. While they aren’t as highly rated for sound-reduction as some other brands, they sufficiently block noise, while consumers sleep better knowing they will definitely hear their alarm clock in the morning.

The High Fidelity Reusable earplugs are hypoallergenic, so most people won’t find them irritating at all. They are soft in the are, yet easy to get out, so there’s no worrying they will get stuck. Most wearers find them comfortable all night – or all day – long, even when worn every day.

These offer a newer take on noise reduction, offering several layers of acoustic filters rather than blocking the ear canal with foam or another substance. If the other types of plugs don’t work for you, try these on for size.

Where to Buy: Amazon

Amazon Customer Ratings: 5.0 out of 5 stars, from 23 verified buyers

Price: $23.99

High Fidelity Earplug