The Best Earplugs for Sleeping
Block out the noise and get a better night's sleep with earplugs made for sleeping.
Our Top Earplug Picks
We take sleep seriously around here. From finding the best cooling sheets to sleep masks to mattress toppers, we’re obsessed with creating the perfect place to snooze — because sleep is THE most important thing for your body and mind. It’s a basic human need, and sleep deprivation can affect every aspect of your life. Simply put, sleep helps your brain work properly. Plus, it plays a vital role in your physical health. (I’ve mentioned this before.) But getting the perfect sleep setup? It's easier than you think.
There are several steps you can take to improve your sleep habits, from staying on a consistent sleep schedule to avoiding heavy meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. But one of the most important steps that will help you sleep comfortably and stay asleep is to keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet. This will help your body recognize that it’s time to sleep.
Keep your bedroom dark: Help your body’s melatonin production by dimming the lights leading up to bedtime. When you’re ready to sleep, keep light exposure at bay by turning off hallway lights, avoiding electronics and closing blinds or curtains. Basically, make it really, really dark. Exposure to light — especially blue light — can be an invitation for insomnia. Use a sleep mask if you can’t make it dark enough in your bedroom. (Find out which sleep masks we recommend for total darkness.)
Keep your bedroom cool: Getting too warm throughout the night can lead to sweating, tossing and turning, dehydration and more, which can ultimately create a terrible night’s sleep. Stay cool by wearing light, breathable pajamas and using cooling bedding, like sheets, pillows and even your mattress. Turn the fan on (great white noise!) or prop open a window if you’re able to.
Keep your bedroom quiet: Quiet means different things to everyone. Some people find ambient noise soothing, while others prefer complete and total silence. I prefer the latter, and that’s why I swear by earplugs. Earplugs (silicone for me) are my number-one recommendation for light sleepers or those who live in a noisy area — or have trouble sleeping in general. They can significantly improve the quality of your sleep by blocking out sounds, like snoring, trains, street noise and more.
Are Earplugs Safe for Sleeping?
The short answer — yes. But there are some potential side effects to consider. According to Ana Gotter via Healthline, “over time earplugs can push earwax back into your ear, causing a buildup” and “can also cause ear infections.” Keep in mind that “using earplugs correctly can reduce your risk of having any side effects.” So, make sure you clean and/or replace them regularly. And make sure you're only covering the ear opening and not pushing the earplugs into the ear canal. (Read the manufacturer's instructions to make sure you're applying your earplugs correctly.)
How to Choose the Right Earplugs
Choosing the right earplugs all comes down to what’s comfortable for you. There are different types of earplugs, including silicone, wax and foam. Wax earplugs can mold to the size of your ear and are waterproof, so they’re also good for swimming. Silicone earplugs are reusable and can be hard or soft; hard silicone may not be comfortable for side sleepers, and soft may not block out as much noise. Foam earplugs are soft and comfortable but need to be replaced often. You'll also want to consider the earplugs' noise reduction rating (or NRR). Currently, 33 decibels is the highest NRR you can get in an earplug. While it's impossible to block out all noise, you can certainly bring it down to a sleep-worthy level.
For less than $10, you can't beat this 50-pack of ultra-soft foam earplugs that could last almost a month. They're made with low-pressure, slow-release Comfy Cush Comfort Foam® with a noise reduction rating of 33 decibels, the highest on our list, so they're great for not just sleeping but concerts, traveling and more. Plus, the ergonomic shape fits nicely in the ear, making it perfect for side sleepers.
Rave Review: "One of my cats screams outside the door every morning for me to feed him. When I looked up how expensive it would be to send him to college so he could get an education, a 9-to-5 job and contribute to the household, my wife suggested the following: Stop being ridiculous and buy some earplugs. So I bought these. They work great. Now I can't hear my cat screaming in the morning! I get to sleep in while my wife — she doesn't use these — gets fed up by the cat's constant screaming and feeds them."
I swear by these silicone earplugs. They’re made of a high-grade silicone material that’s BPA-free, washable, reusable and safe to use. The ultra-soft material and ergonomic shape fit in your ear perfectly — just spin the earplugs and insert. They also have an NRR of 32 decibels, so they’re great beyond the bedroom. For less than $10, you’ll get three pairs of earplugs and a travel pouch, so they’re easy to take on the road. Typically, silicone earplugs can be uncomfortable for side sleepers, but as a sleeper who moves between my side and back all night, I can attest to the fact that these are comfortable and stay in place through the night. Since these are reusable, you’ll want to keep them clean. Simply wash in mild soap and warm water and allow to air dry. You can even use a bristled straw brush or toothbrush to get into the crevices for a more thorough clean.
Rave Review: "After a recent bout of insomnia due to our neighbors' odd collection of midnight charging, nuclear-sounding generators and 4 a.m. monster truck revvings, I was desperate. I set out, once again, to see about finding earplugs for ultra-sensitive dilettantes like myself. Anyway, I tried these and they worked. They're the most — nay, the ONLY — non-invasive, comfortable earplugs I've tried. They come with several pairs, a little case, cool instructions. A great buy. Bravo, hallelujah."
Like our other picks, these waterproof wax earplugs have an NRR of 32 decibels. For less than $15, you’ll get 15 wax pillows, each pillow offering up to 10 uses. You can even break each pillow in half to extend its usability. Each earplug is moldable and fits every ear shape, so they will feel like they are custom-made for your ears. Not only are they safe and comfortable for sleeping, but their waterproof material makes them great for swimming and showers, too. Plus, reviewers claim they stay in place through the night. One downside is that everything sticks to them, so you may not get a full 10 uses out of each wax pillow if they get dirty.
Rave Review: "My wife bought these to use while sleeping. I snore like a grizzly bear and may or may not have night terrors (time will tell). These earplugs work awesome; I can't hear her yell at me at all during the night. All jokes aside, she likes the way they fit, they don't hurt her ear canal from extended use, and they block out almost all noises."
These soft silicone putty earplugs have the lowest NRR on our list at just 22 decibels, but we like them because they're moldable to your ear. Suited for quieter environments, these will block out ambient noise if you're a light sleeper and take loud environments to a more comfortable — and safe — noise level. The ultra-soft, high-grade silicone material is comfortable for side sleepers and can be worn several times before replacing. (Just keep them clean!)
Rave Review: "After inserting the earplugs and allowing them to adjust, silence befell my bedroom. I was able to sleep free from the obnoxious noises that surround my apartment. My only complaint is perhaps these earplugs work a little too well. I missed my alarm — by an hour and a half. For a full 90 minutes, my phone alarm was ringing away, and the earplugs blocked every bit of noise."
While many of our other picks are technically reusable, too, these Loop Quiet Earplugs (with an NRR of 27 decibels) can last for years with proper care and maintenance. They're made of an extra-soft silicone material and come with ear tips in four sizes for a more custom fit. Plus, the rounded shape of the Loop fits naturally in your ear, even with tossing and turning (which, hopefully, you will be doing less of). And while aesthetics likely doesn't matter when it comes to earplugs, these come in six trendy hues, like blush pink, mint green and crisp white, so they look cool if you're rocking them out in public.
Rave Review: "I wear these at night to drown out my fiancé’s snoring. I’ve slept so much better since using them! We went from me laying up at night wondering how such terrible sounds could be coming from a human being and "accidentally" kicking or elbowing him to hopefully get a brief reprieve from the ear-splitting sounds, to me snuggling up to him every night and sleeping soundly. I can still hear him breathing, but it is so much quieter. They are comfortable and I’m super glad that they came with adjustable earpieces because the smallest ones fit perfectly in my ears and cause no discomfort during eight hours of sleeping or afterward when I wake up in the morning."