Are you struggling to get a good nights’ sleep? Maybe you have a snoring partner? Or your neighbour’s dog howls throughout the night? Perhaps you live along a noisy traffic-filled road? Whatever the cause, sleep experts have highlighted the negative impact poor sleep quality has on our health and wellbeing. With this in mind, more and more of us are looking to prioritise and improve our sleep. Earplugs are a quick, easy and inexpensive fix.
Below you’ll find our definitive guide to the best earplugs. We’ve outlined the key buying factors you need to consider before purchasing such as comfort, purpose and of course, noise reduction rating.
Keep scrolling to then see our round-up of the best three pairs for sleeping, as well as some specific recommendations based on frequently asked questions. Our recommendations are based on extensive research, saving you the hassle of scrolling while bringing you one step closer to a restful nights’ sleep.
If sleep isn’t your main concern, don’t worry as we also consider the best earplugs for those looking to protect their ears through out the day. Perhaps you work with loud machinery? Maybe you’re even a musician or a frequent concert goer? Whatever the reason, it’s important you ensure the best protection for your ears, and these earplugs are a great answer to the problem. Keep scrolling to find out about the best earplugs for minimum sound distortion with maximum protection.
What do I need to consider when buying earplugs?
Noise reduction rating
Unsurprisingly, the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a key part of our, and users’, criteria – according to reviews. Measured in decibels (dB), the NRR of earplugs can be anywhere between 20 to 34 decibels. Put simply, the higher the NRR, the more effective they are.
The average person’s hearing range is between 0 dB to 180 dB. A normal conversation sits around 60 dB whilst an ambulance siren or fireworks cover the upper end of our hearing range between 120 -130 dB.
With the highest NRR offered by ear plugs being around 34 dB, they are not designed to be completely noise-cancelling. However, for those who simply want loudness reduced, earplugs with a decent NRR are one of the best options available.
Ergonomics and comfort
A consideration for anyone, but particularly sleepers, is how comfortable the product is. Not only must you consider the materials but also the shape and size. With retailers more aware of difference amongst people, there are now varying shapes and fit to cater for varying ear canal sizes. Such ergonomic design means the products below are fit-for-purpose.
Continued or one-time use?
While for some their earplugs are a long-term investment, others simply want them for one-time use. Disposable foam earplugs come in handy as they are usually inexpensive and easy to use. However, reusable silicone earplugs, which are often slightly more expensive, create less waste for the environment which no one can deny is an increasingly important issue to consumers. It’s worth considering that reusable pairs must be thoroughly an regularly cleaned to ensure they’re hygienic.
Either type of these earbuds will help you to tune out noises of your choice, no matter which you pick. You could even have no trouble reading at a party with these products – they’re that good at blocking out noise from other people! So long as their shape will fit your ears in a comfy fit, you can employ them for all sorts of things – from blocking out people to getting a better sleep when your head hits the pillow.
In this article, we mainly consider the benefits of earplugs for sleeping but they are also widely used in noisy work environments, at concerts or even for sensory overload reduction . It is important to consider your individual needs, as different materials, shapes, sizes and types (disposable or reusable) all have different vantage points depending on how the product is used. For example, if you are looking to take a dive into the sea, you need to ensure your pair are waterproof. Equally if you are just looking for single-use, it may be worth compromising on a lower price point.
Best Earplugs for Sleeping
Our first pick is the Hearprotek Earplugs. Designed for sleep, these prioritise comfort alongside purpose. Reviewers praise the hypoallergenic memory-foam ear tips which mold to the individual to sit comfortably in your ear canals. The ultra soft foam alongside the ergonomically-designed ear wings means these are the best earplugs for side sleepers, allowing you to sleep ear against the pillow, without irritation.
With up to 33 decibels of noise reduction, these earplugs pack a punch in noise reduction. However, Hearprotek emphasise that even their earplugs cannot cancel all noise. For example, if you’re looking to cancel out unusually loud noise, these will have more of a ‘muffling’ effect. In this way, they strike the perfect balance in reducing background noise, such as the sound of tv shows or video games, without the risk of sleeping through your alarm clock or, for new parents, the wake-up call of your baby.
The key features of this pair of earplugs are:
- Soft foam ear tips (available in 3 different fits to cater to varying ear canal sizes)
- Ergonomic EarWings
- Up to 33 decibels sound-proofing
- Lightweight build
- Practical carrying case for travel
With ergonomics at the core of their design, Hearprotek Earplugs are certainly one of the best earplugs for sleeping. If you are a side sleeper, these are without doubt the earplugs for you. And with their lightweight travel case, you’ll never be without them.
ANBOW Reusable Silicone Earplugs
If Hearprotek Earplugs aren’t for you, our next choice may be just what you’re looking for. Made from super-soft silicone, the ANBOW Earplugs are washable, reusable and safe for all-day use. Their ultra soft material means they boast comfort as well as allowing the customer to insert them with ease.
With a noise reduction level of NRR 32, these earplugs are ideal for those needing to cancel a variety of loud noises – be it a rock concert or music from a noisy neighbors’ street party, these earplugs provide peace and quiet. With their silicone material and clever design, these earplugs create a tight-fit in your ear canal, allowing for better noise cancellation. Reviewers say these are the best earplugs for sleeping and that even on a loud flight you’ll be having a nap before you know it. Even better, they are also waterproof, so are ideal for those wishing to take a dip in the pool.
Available on Amazon Prime and sold in sets of 3, ANBOW Earplugs are affordable and great value for money, perfect for those on a budget.
The key features of these earplugs are:
- Made from BPA free silicones
- Washable and Reusable
- Safe and comfortable for all day use
- Safe for use in water
ANBOW Earplugs are focused on providing customers with a comfortable fit, consistency of quality and flexibility of usage to ensure the best experience possible. These are a great fit for a variety of activities and lifestyles- from swimming to sleeping, for musicians to mechanics.
Mack’s Soft Foam Earplugs
Mack’s Slim Fit Earplugs are designed for those whose ear canal is on the smaller size, or who suffer from sensitivity in their ears. While not reusable, Mack’s provide 50 pairs, meaning these foam plugs will last you a while. Providing up to 29 dB of noise , Mack’s earplugs are multi-purpose; perfect for sleeping, travelling or even using some noisy machinery. Although purposed for travelling, this product does not provide protection against airplane ear pressure. So if you struggle with pain from the buildup of pressure during flights, this purchase would not be the answer to your issues.
- Slim Fit for Small Ear Canals – 20% smaller than the standard size
- up to 29 dB NRR
- Foam style for sleepers comfort
Mack’s are a great disposable option which still come out strong on design and comfortability. As discussed further in our FAQ’s below, non-reusable soft foam earplugs are well suited to those wanting to avoid the hassle of regularly cleaning their earplugs whilst avoiding any risk of infection. Sleep Doctor-rated in the United States, these can be easily bought on major retailer sites.
We’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to earplugs, to give you a quick round-up of what you need to know.
Are there ear plugs that block all noise?
Unfortunately there are no earplugs that will block out all noise. Due to bone conduction it simply is not possible to block all sound vibrations and so some sound will still enter your ears. Nevertheless, loud sounds, which are often disturbing and even damaging to your ears, will become muffled and far less intrusive. If you’re looking for maximum noise cancellation be sure to get earplugs that boast a snug fit in the ear canals as this will reduce the vibrations entering your ears. Consider earplugs that come in more than one size as this should allow you to find a better fit.
What are the most effective ear plugs?
The most effective earplugs for those looking for hearing protection are Brison’s Earplugs. These high fidelity earplugs cancel 20-25 decibels of sound with no noise distortion, allowing you to hear perfectly yet protecting your ears from damaging sounds. These are perfect for those who work in loud environments, such as construction workers, or for frequent concert goers. Made from soft, high quality silicone and with a triple-flange membrane design these earplugs are comfortable and safe for all-day, long term use. Although comfortable enough to be used as sleep earplugs, their lower noise reduction level means you will still be able to hear the snores of your partner or a busy road. These high fidelity earplugs are better suited to those wishing to hear everything but still protect their ears. Unlike foam earplugs, these cause no noise distortion by reducing noise at an even level, allowing you to maintain a full sound range .
Which earplugs are best to block out snoring?
For those wishing to get a better nights sleep and block out snoring, these Hearprotek Noise Reduction and Protection earplugs are undoubtedly the best option. Suitable for side sleepers, these pillow soft earplugs are made from lightweight silicone to ensure a snug fit in the ear canal, whilst also minimising discomfort. Ergonomically designed, these earplugs boast maximum noise blockage, cancelling up to 32 decibels of sound. Although unable to completely cancel out all noises, loud noises and disturbances will appear muffled, allowing for a more peaceful sleep yet still allowing you to hear important noises, such as alarms or your children . The key to ensuring maximum noise cancellation is getting the right fit from your earplugs, which is why HearProtek earplugs come in two sizes to accommodate big and small ear canals.
What are the best alternative to earplugs for sleeping?
Despite their benefits, earplugs are not the right choice for everyone. Some of their cons are the risk of ear infections, caused by bacteria, as a result of improper use and/or cleaning. Similarly, they can cause ear wax buildup by preventing proper draining. For those suffering from ear wax impaction, the solution is regularly cleaning of the ears with earbuds and replacing of your earplugs. For people with health factors such as this, disposable earplugs are the best choice.
Luckily, there are also some alternative options available. Common technology is a white noise machine, such as this one. White noise works by masking sounds, like traffic, which can be disruptive. Instead, it offers high fidelity soothing sounds, usually nature inspired. Reviews praise its effectiveness for providing relief and relaxation, be that for those with insomnia , whilst you’re having some alone-time reading or even for babies who resist the soothing effects of bedtime stories.
However, sleep experts are now praising the effects of ‘pink noise’. The science is complicated but essentially pink noise is white noise with a lower frequency, meaning its less intense. This makes it perfect for those who are extra sensitive, such as people with tinnitus. Nevertheless, it is said to improve deep sleep and memory amongst most adults.