The Best Earplugs for Sleeping in 2016 – Complete Guide
We often hear the term‘get your beauty sleep in’, but little do people realize that it’s more than just your looks at stake when you don’t get enough sleep. Not only is it important for cells to rebuild and repair themselves, but a good sleep also makes sure that our minds and bodies are fully rested to take on the day tomorrow.
Unfortunately in this day and age, many of us suffer from poor quality sleep, thanks to environmental noises that keep us awake throughout the night – loud neighbors, dogs barking, snoring spouse – which can wreak havoc on a person’s emotional and physical well-being.
Investing in the best earplugs for sleeping can go a long way for a restful night, and save bills arising from health problems due to lack of sleep.
Earplugs have been evolving over the past 100 years, as the world around us gets noisier. Early earplugs were made of wax-cotton, but today, there are many different types of earplugs in the market. The most commonly found ones are those made from foam, wax, silicone and polyurethane.
There are designs made for keeping water out while swimming or bathing, for bike riding, for concerts, and for sleeping. Some of the latter have sound-dampening enhancements to help reduce noises of a partner’s snoring, but still allow for higher pitched noises such as an alarm clock’s ringing to go through.
Our analysis – Key considerations and features of best earplugs for sleeping
To select the truly best earplugs for sleeping, we analysed the top earplugs in the market, and ranked them by taking into account the following features:
Noise Reduction Rating
Noise reduction rating (NRR) is a lab measurement on the amount of decibels of sound the plugs can reduce. The higher the rating, the greater the ability to block out noise. Generally, an NRR in the 28-33 range is considered excellent for sleep. However, it’s not the only thing to look at, as many users have found ear plugs with lower NRR to be able to absorb sound effectively without compromising on comfort.
The best earplugs for sleeping are usually made from foam or wax, as they are softer and more suitable for longer wear. Foam plugs have a texture similar to memory foam, which expands in the ear canal. Wax plugs are typically made from soft wax and covered in cotton for protection.They react to body temperature and will melt slightly, creating an airtight seal.
There are pros and cons to each: foam plugs are better at blocking sound and are soft, but can expand quickly, causing pain; whilst wax types are pliable and comfy, but can melt and leave a greasy residue on your fingers.
If you dread the moment you have to insert, wear or remove your earplugs, then you’re not wearing the right ones. Wearing earplugs should be a comfortable experience, since they’ll be in your ears for long hours. They should be able to sit snugly in your ears throughout the night without popping out, while still allowing wearers to shift positions in sleep. The best pair should make you forget that you have any plugs in at all.
Plugs that stick out of your ears because they are too large can look comical, but that’s not the only reason why size is important when choosing a pair of suitable ear plugs. Large ear plugs can hurt small ears, or make sleeping on the side uncomfortable. Likewise, small ear plugs might not adequately block sound for large ears, and will be hard to remove.
Durability and Value
Consider if the ear plugs are for single use, or if you’re looking for something that can last you several wears. If you’re looking to wear them for long, it might be prudent to spend more on a quality pair that can last.
In a nutshell, according to analysis and research, the best earplugs for sleeping should be made of material that is comfortable enough for your ears, not cause irritation after long use, or wake you up at night from the pain. They should fit nicely inside without falling out, even when you shift sleeping positions. One way to try them out is to stimulate your sleeping position. Lie down with the ear plugs and go through different poses. Sometimes just tilting the head back or sleeping on the side can change pressure in your ears. If the ear plugs are too large or too small, they might also cause discomfort.
Results (1/10) – 10 best earplugs for sleeping
|1. Moldex Pura Fit Soft Foam Earplugs||Highest independently tested to ANSI S319-1974 with a NRR 33||$$||4.6|
|2. Howard Leight Earplugs||Self-adjusting foam expands to fit virtually any ear canal||$$||4.6|
|3. Flents Quiet Time Soft Comfort Ear Plugs||Noise Reduction Rating: 33 Decibels||$||4.6|
|4. Mack’s Ear Care Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs||Molded with state-of-the-art, super low-pressure foam||$||4.3|
|5. Liberty DuraPlug Uncorded Disposable Foam Earplugs||Noise reduction rating (NRR): 32dB||$$||4.3|
|6. Boules Quies Wax Earplugs||Disposable protective earplugs made of natural wax||$$||4.2|
|7. Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs||NRR 31 The highest rated custom earplug you can buy||$$||4.2|
|8. Sound Blocker Ear Plugs||Highest level noise reduction rating (NRR 33 decibel)||$$||4.2|
|9. Ohropax Wax Ear Plugs||Made from a soft wax compound covered with cotton||$||4.0|
|10. Hush Smart Earplugs by Hush||Alarm sounds only in your ear so you don’t have to wake up others as well||$$||3.9|
Our top pick for best earplugs for sleeping is an all-rounder in terms of comfort, functionality and ease of use.
Made from extra soft and light foam, the Moldex Pura Fit Soft Foam Earplugs are 100% PVC free and provide NRR33 protection; the highest available NRR certification available on the market. Available in a bright, cheerful shade of green, they have a distinct color and can be easily spotted when misplaced.
Their long length and tapered design makes for easy insertion and removal, are suitable for long use, and their smooth outer surface minimises the risk of ear canal irritation. Upon insertion, the memory-foam-like material expands gently within a few seconds, without putting pressure on the ear.
The Pura Fit is portable, rolls up easily and is ideal for travellers looking to mute out the sounds of their commute, or crying children on a plane, to grab some quick shut eye. Each pair comes in a neat, biodegradable paper bag to help you keep organised.
While able to reduce sounds, it does not block them completely so users riding a bike will still be able to hear traffic sounds and get around safely. They can last for four to five days of use. However, they are big and might not fit people with smaller ears.
Howard Leight disposable earplugs are for single use only, but they offer good sound blocking functionswith the highest noise reduction rating at NRR33dB.
Widely considered to be one of the most-used polyutrethane (PE) foam best earplugs for sleeping in the world, their bell-shaped design is unique, easily identifiable and matches the shape of a user’s inner ear for maximum noise reduction, whilst keeping the plugs firmly sitting in the ear canal.
Their smooth and soil resistant closed cell outer layer helps to prevent dirt build-up. The material is also easy to clean. Apart from everyday use, the plugs comply with industry standards and are used for sectors such as construction, welding and more – so they’re definitely able to block noise out effectively for your sleep!
When it comes to style, the Howard Leight Ear Plugs take the cake. Their funky, eye catching colors in swirly yellow and magenta can be easily spotted. The T-shaped tip also makes it easy to remove. Each pair is individually packaged in a polybag.
The only complaint with the plugs is that prolonged usage, especially at night, might initially cause some minor soreness in the ears – but we found that they got better over time after the ears have adjusted.
Flents is a trusted household brand, with years of experience in creating quality earplugs and other health and apothecary products. The Flents Quiet Time Soft Comfort Ear Plugs is primarily aimed at reducing noise for sleep and to help with concentration.
With an NRR of 33, they havethe highest available rating in the market. Their smooth and tapered original design is done for maximum comfort.
The soft foam material is gentle on the ears, whilst being durable and reusable. Our only qualm is that while pliable enough, they are not always easy to insert or remove. Some effort is needed to roll them into shape and get a good seal. We recommend rolling the plug into a thin, crease-free cylinder and while compressed, pull the outer ear up and out to straighten the ear canal before inserting. Do note that the plugs expand rather quickly.
We noted that the foam is denser than some brands, which might be good for blocking out more sound. As the size is quite big and it has a long length, the Flents Quiet Time might not be suitable for people with smaller ears.
However, since the material is soft and acts like a cushion, discomfort should be minimal and users can still give them a try to see if they fit.
At a very low price for 50 pairs, Mack’s Ear Care Ultra Soft Foam best earplugs for sleeping are definitely on the affordable scale. With an NRR level of 32dB, they are versatile and can be used to block out simple sound disturbances, such as the sounds of children playing, up to more hazardous noise levels such as that of construction work or rock concerts.
Fully skinned and tapered, Mack’s ear plugs are molded with state-of-the-art, super low pressure foam, which provides a slow release for comfort and hygiene.
Some brands in the market produce larger-sized plugs, and when not worn properly, leave the ears feeling sore and painful, especially after leaving them in for the night. Macks, meanwhile, is more suitable for those with small to medium-sized ear canals. The soft material makes it gentle on the ears and are non-itchy when removed the next morning.
Available in a plain beige tone, users can expect to get about four to five uses out of each pair. They are effective at blocking background noises, but still allow for certain sounds to filter through, such as phone alarms set to high-pitch.
The plugs are easy to insert as they hold their shape longer, allowing the user more time to position it correctly. If you’re looking for something that does the job without breaking the bank, then Mack’s is a solid choice.
Boasting an NRR of 32dB, the Liberty Dura Plugs are super soft and offer long lasting comfort, making them a good choice for sleepers. If you’re the kind that goes through a lot of best earplugs for sleeping, this is a recommended pair as it has high reuse value.
The plugs are able to regain their shape within a few minutes of removal, so you can pop them in and out many times before tossing. Made from foam, they have a tapered shape that is long enough not to vanish inside the ear canal, but short enough not to stick out of the ears, making it comfy for people who like to sleep on their side.
Unlike some plugs which immediately pop back to their full size, the Liberty Dura Plug has a slow expansion, which can take up to 30 seconds. The wait is worth it, as it allows the foam to gradually mold into the ear canal, effectively shutting it off from noise. This self-adjusting foam also ensures there is minimal pressure when inserting and removing.
The plugs are packaged individually to protect them from exposure to the elements, and are handy when it comes to travelling as users can simply toss a few packs into their bags. Their bright orange colour has high visibility and will be easy to find in any room.
Another wax entry to this list, the Boules Quies wax earplugs are comfy, fit easily and have decent sound blocking capabilities.
Made from natural wax and covered in cotton, they have an NRR of 27dB, and are able to block most environmental noises well. The plugs are easy to prepare and use. Simply remove the protective layer of cotton, warm the wax in the hand, and mold for the perfect fit to suit your needs.
Users can conveniently make adjustments without having to take the plugs out: just squeeze and shape them from the outside by pressing into the ear. Lightweight and comfortable, they are the best for long sleep as it does not feel as if you have anything inside the ear at all. Minimal picking is required to remove the wax from the ear canal. The drawback is that they give only a small amount, which makes it difficult to seal completely for those with large ears.
The plugs are not recommended for multiple re-use as they get dirty quickly, but should be good for a few days if handled properly. The wax provided with each best earplugs for sleeping has a harder texture than most brands, so it does not melt easily and get stuck in the ear canal.
The Boules Quies best earplugs are effective if there are not too many loud noises in your environment, and are still considered a good choice for sleeping. Pick this if you prefer wax over foam, but with a lower NRR rating, expect more sound to come through.
No more searching high and low for the best fit: the Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs are designed to provide not just good sound blocking, but a customized experience which allows you to shape, mold, and remold your own earplugs.
Made in the USA, they claim to be the first fully re-moldable custom earplugs, with an NRR of 31dB – the highest rating for its class. Preparing the molds are easy and can be done with just hot water. Since they’re made to fit, they will not fall out easily or become uncomfortable.
If done properly, the earplugs will follow the exact shape of the ear, giving great noise isolation and a perfect seal. To make the mold, the material is heated with boiling water in thermoplastic bowls, and once cooled down, will become soft and pliable. Users can then proceed to shape them to their ears.
Do not worry if you don’t get them on your first try. However, we noted that sometimes, the earplugs did not turn out well if it underwent too many re-molds.
The set comes with two thermoplastic custom molds, three sets of triple flange tips in sizes S, M and L, one set of max protect foam tips and a pouch for carrying.
As with many wax-based best earplugs for sleeping, the Decibullz does not completely block sounds, but rather turns the volume down enough for users to relax. Although more stylish compared to regular foam plugs, people sleeping on their side might feel discomfort especially if they are not on a pillow.
Like its name, the Sound Blocker Ear Plugs help to block out noises that disturb our beauty sleep, be it that neighbour who likes throwing loud parties or the dorm mate who snores up a storm.
Carrying the highest NRR of 33 dB, the Sound Blocker gives good hearing protection: it is especially useful for decreases snoring sounds to a more tolerable level, and can even be used for activities such as shooting or riding.
Too often than not, foam ear plugs expand too quickly, causing pain while inserting, during usage, and when removing. Since the Sound Blocker uses soft PU foam material with ultra slow rebound, it minimises discomfort and is suitable for longer use. The plugs come in a yellow plastic container which users can repurpose for storage.
Each pack of two is sealed in a mini poly bag for hygiene and individually wrapped so that they are easy to carry around. Travelers can take a few along on a commute and use them on the go. The plugs use high quality material that is durable and offers adequate noise protection. Their rounded end ensures no sharp corners are poking against the sensitive ear canal wall.
The downside is that they are not very easy to put into the ears, and requires a certain amount of getting used to. There are instructions to follow for proper insertion, by rolling the plug between thumb and finger, forming a thin and smooth cylinder, pull back the external ear and let the plugs do their magic.
For those with smaller ear canals, who find most market-ready ear plugs to be too large and painful for extended wear, the Ohropax Wax Ear Plugs solves the problem. While wax earplugs may not be everyone’s cup of tea, they can be very comfortable when molded well as they offer a custom fit to your ears, creating a perfect seal with complete noise protection. They are comfy enough for side sleepers.
The wax compound is covered with cotton for protection, and softens to form the shape of the wearer’s ear canal, making it ideal not just for sleep, but also for swimming, bathing, as well as study and travel. The plugs are effective at blocking out most neighbourhood noises like loud neighbours and barking dogs.
With Ohropax, users have to go a little extra mile with aftercare due to the product’s waxy nature. Whereas one can simply pop foam or silicone best earplugs for sleeping in and out, wax ear plug wearers should remember to unblock their ears after a few hours to avoid pressure building up. The wax can also leave a greasy residue, which some might find unpleasant, but for the most part, the cotton around them keeps the plugs cool and dry.
They are reusable and good for nine to 10 days. The items should be discarded once the pink colour turns whitish pink, or when the seals begin to break and they are prone to falling out.
Dubbed the world’s first ‘smart earplugs’, Hush combines the best of conventional sleep wearables with new technology.
Using Passive Noise Reduction and Noise Masking technology with foam material, the plugs are able to reduce noise by up to 30dB. Beyond just blocking noise, Hush creates soothing sounds to help users get better sleep. Its built-in sound machine plays from a list of 15 tracks, from white noise to the sounds of nature, such as crickets chirping and raindrops. Users are able to connect wirelessly via a smartphone app, and adjust notification filters to control what wakes them up, be it a personal alarm or emergency calls.
The personal alarm function is handy as it only rings in the user’s ear, so as not to disturb the rest of the household. Its thin, wireless profile is ergonomic and follows the shape of the wearer’s ears to maximize comfort.
The Hush also comes with a compact charging case, which doubles as a charger to provide three on-the-go full charges. There are nine different sizes of foam and silicone eartip pairs to suit different ear sizes.
Its few drawbacks are that the plugs might not fit comfortably for people with smaller ears or side sleepers. Being a new product, the iOS can be buggy, disconnecting from the best earplugs for sleeping in the night. Batteries tend not to last a full eight hours as claimed, especially if the volume is set to higher.